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16 JUNE 2013

Marianne North: pioneering botanical artist

"Victorian artist Marianne North, one of the only women of her time to travel to places like the Seychelles Islands, Australia, and Chile, and who left behind a trail of impressive art and writing about her botanical discoveries, is not a household name. ...

In 1871, when a 40–year–old North set out after the death of her father to travel around the world and to paint as many of world's flora in oils as possible, she unwittingly found herself both ahead of and behind her times. In the art world, she was definitely not part of the avant–garde; in France, Claude Monet and Pierre–Auguste Renoir had already started their Impressionist paintings, creating works that were worlds away from the status quo of a polished depiction of nature.

North went around the world twice, in fifteen years, traveling by train, boat, mule, and on foot, to every continent, except for Antarctica. In Brazil, where she spent 13 months, North painted lush landscapes and tropical flowers with tight brushstrokes and clean lines – a style that would soon be left behind with the revolutionary style of the Impressionists. North didn't perceive or paint her subjects in a particularly unique way, but she relayed every minute detail of a plant, flower, or landscape with breathtaking precision. Her paintings give you a straight, dispassionate look at an unfamiliar world."

(Alexia Nader, Garden Design)

Fig.1 Marianne North, New Zealand Flowers and Fruit, Date painted: early 1880s, Oil on board, 50.9 x 35.4 cm, Collection: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.



187119th centuryaccuracyAotearoa New ZealandartistAustraliabiodiversity • botanical artist • botanical record • BrazilCaliforniaCharles DarwinChiledepiction • dispassionate look • Edward Lear • fidelityfloragarden design • George Eliot • IndiaJapanKew Gardens • Marianne North • natural history • natural landscape • nature • non-European species • Origin of Speciespainting • painting nature • phytotomypioneering womenplant anatomyplantsscientific illustrationscientific illustrator • Seychelles • Seychelles Islands • travel • travel writing • travelogue • tropical plants • UK • unfamiliar world • Victorian art


Simon Perkins
29 MAY 2011

Scientific illustrations depict scientifically important features

"As a scientific illustrator, one must be able to convey a detailed, clear and accurate depiction of a specimen. Scientific illustrations are an important part of the documentation that makes a specimen museum–quality – along with field and research notes, accession records, photographs, and correspondence about the specimen. A scientific illustration captures information about a plant or animal, information that is often missing from the museum specimen. Scientific illustrations depict the scientifically important features of the organism being studied. They often also describe that organism's natural environment."

(National Museum of American History)

Fig.1 George Venable (1992). Drawing of a Carabid beetle from South America, created for the research of Dr. Terry L. Erwin of the Department of Entomology, courtesy of the Entomology Illustration Archive, NMNH



accession records • accuracy • animal information • biomedical illustrationdetailed drawingdocumentationentomology • Entomology Illustration Archive • fidelity • field notes • George Venable • illustrationillustration to visually communicate informationinterpretation • museum specimen • National Museum of American Historynatural environmentorganismplant information • research notes • sciencescientific illustrationscientific illustratorscientific visualisation • scientifically important features • scientistsSmithsonian Institutespecimenvisual depictionvisual fidelityvisual representationvisual representations of scientific conceptsvisualisation


Simon Perkins

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