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Art Collections Harry Ardell Allard Collection
Fannie Elisabeth Waugh Davis Collection
Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden Collection
Georg Dionys Ehret Collection

Andreas Friedrich Happe Collection
Hitchcock-Chase Collection of Grass Drawings

Margaret Mee Collection
Gilbert M. Smith Collection
Isaac Sprague Collection
Torner Collection of Sessé and Mociño Biological Illustrations
U.S.D.A. Forest Service Collection
Wall Chart Collection
Frederick Andrews Walpole Collection



 Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden Collection



Artist Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden (1907–2007) of Boulder, Colorado, has bequeathed to the Hunt Institute her remaining drawings, designs and layouts, numerous awards for books, and correspondence. Aside from her exceptional talent, the artist is remarkable in that she has collected the plants, made the illustrations, written the text, designed the books, and presented them as packages to her publishers. Her ideas and books seemed limitless. Hunt Institute Curator of Art James White refers to Mrs. Dowden as "America's leading botanical artist" and is proud of the extensive collection of her works now at the Institute.

Mrs. Dowden, May 1999.
Photo by Lugene Bruno. HI Archives portrait no. 8.

The Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden Collection contains almost 456 drawings, mostly watercolor, (including dummies, mechanicals and tracings) for Jessica Kerr's Shakespeare's Flowers (1969), Louis Untermeyer's Roses (1970), Phyllis Busch's Wildflowers and the Stories Behind Their Names (1977), Robert Crowell's The Lore & Legends of Flowers (1982), J. Paterson and K. Paterson's Consider the Lilies: Plants of the Bible (1986), and Dowden's own The Secret Life of the Flowers (1964), Roses (1965), The Blossom on the Bough (1975), State Flowers (1978), The Clover and the Bee: A Book of Pollination (1990), and Poisons in Our Path: Plants That Harm and Heal (1994); also for Life and Audubon. Items in the collection are listed in the Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute database under the artist's name. For quick access to the images in this collection, see the Art Collections page, which features search results for each of the Art Department collections for which images have been added to the database. The Hunt Institute now holds the copyright to these works, and images will be added to the database in the future. To inquire about publishing these images, please contact the Art Department.

Mrs. Dowden was educated at the University of Colorado, Carnegie Institute of Technology, and Beaux Arts Institute of Design and Art Students League, both in New York. Formerly drawing instructor at the Pratt Institute; Chairman, Art Department, Manhattanville College, New York; and free-lance textile designer in New York, she has been a free-lance botanical artist and writer since 1950. For a number of years the Dowdens lived in New York; Ray Dowden (died 1982), also an artist, taught at Cooper Union. Mrs. Dowden ceased painting and made gifts of her brushes after her Poisons in Our Path: Plants That Harm and Heal in 1994. Recently Mrs. Dowden talked to a group of young students about her career, but she says everything now requires so much effort that she has curtailed many activities, including travel.

White ash, Black cherry, Shadbrush, Red maple, Ohio buckeye, American elm, watercolor by Anne Ophelia Dowden for her book The Blossom on the Bough: A Book of Trees (New York, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1975, p. 14). © 2008 Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. All rights reserved. HI Art accession no. 7410.02.

Eastern white pine, Pinus strobus, watercolor by Anne Ophelia Dowden for "The best U.S. evergreens," Life, 39(23): 121–125, 1955. © 2008 Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. All rights reserved. HI Art accession no. 7464.07.

Her mother was from Uniontown, Pennsylvania; her father from Wooster, Ohio. The family moved west because of her father's tuberculosis. Even at age five, Anne Ophelia knew that she would become an artist. Her first illustrations were for a book by her father, who was a pathologist at the University of Colorado. She began her botanical career in illustrating for magazines such as Life, Audubon, House Beautiful, and Natural History. (Four of the Life illustrations were included in the Hunt Institute's first International Exhibition in 1964.) Her books were a result of a friend's introducing her to Crowell Publishers of New York. The first one was intended for seventh graders, and all were for young adults. Mrs. Dowden remarked, "Art teaches young people. I wanted to present ideas myself pictorially and in words. We're lucky to be artists. I always found it a very satisfying field." She refers to the pleasure, fun and joy of being an artist and learning about "the most beautiful world of intricate relationships" explained in her books, The Clover and the Bee: A Book of Pollination (1990) and From Flower to Fruit (1984).

Red Prairie Sunflower, Helianthus annuus, watercolor by Anne Ophelia Dowden for J. McCormick's "The red prairie sunflower," Natural History, 68(7): 420–423, 1959, [opposite p. 422]. © 2008 Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. All rights reserved. HI Art accession no. 1588.

Mrs. Dowden's illustrations were included in a series of reproductions for the Frame House Gallery, covers for Garden Journal (1970, vol. 20, issue 3) and House Beautiful (May 1960), and the following publications:

Anderson, F. 1974. Celebrants of nature: Wild-flower painters of America. Garden Journal 24(2): 48–53 and cover. [April.]

Anonymous. 1952. Free meals from woods and field. Life 32(21): 60–62. [26 May.]

Anonymous. 1955. Beautiful blooming bushes. Life 38(15): 95–103. [11 April.]

Anonymous. 1955. The best U.S. evergreens. Life 39(23): 121–125. [5 December.]

Anonymous. 1957. Wildflowers for gardens. Life 42(21): 92–100. [27 May.]

Anonymous. 1961. Speak to the Earth. Natural History 70(6): 30–39 and cover. [June–July.]

Anonymous. 1972. Weed hunting in Manhattan. Garden Journal 22(5): 134–139 and cover.

Anonymous. 1999. Autobiographical sketch of Anne Ophelia Dowden. Herbarist 65: 46–49.

Borland, Hal. 1969. Plants of Christmas. New York: Golden Press. (Revised, T. Crowell, 1987)

Borland, Hal. 1970. Flowers of the 50. Audubon 72(4): 18–27.

Borland, Hal. 1977. The Golden Circle: A Book of Months. New York: T. Crowell.

Busch, Phyllis. 1977. Wildflowers and the Stories Behind Their Names. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Crowell, Robert. 1982. The Lore and Legends of Flowers. New York: T. Crowell.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1963. Look at a Flower. New York: T. Crowell.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1964. The Secret Life of the Flowers. New York: Odyssey.

Dowden, A. O. T. with R. Thomson. 1965. Roses. New York: Odyssey.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1972. Green against gray. Audubon 74(3): 6–13.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1972. Wild Green Things in the City: A Book of Weeds. New York: T. Crowell.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1973. Pageant in the treetops. Audubon 75(3): 20–30. [May.]

Dowden, A. O. T. 1975. The Blossom on the Bough: A Book of Trees. New York: T. Crowell.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1975. To pollinate an orchid. Audubon 77(5): 40–47. [September.]

Dowden, A. O. T. 1978. State Flowers. New York: T. Crowell.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1979. This Noble Harvest: A Chronicle of Herbs. New York: T. Collins.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1984. From Flower to Fruit. New York: T. Collins.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1990. The Clover and the Bee: A Book of Pollination. New York: T. Collins.

Dowden, A. O. T. 1994. Poisons in Our Path: Plants That Harm and Heal. New York: HarperCollins.

Kerr, Jessica. 1969. Shakespeare's Flowers. New York: T. Crowell.

Ligon, Linda. 1993. Botanical art of Anne Ophelia Dowden. The Herb Companion April/May: 64–69.

McCormick. J. 1959. The red prairie sunflower. Natural History 68(7): 420–423 and inside back cover. [August–September.]

Paterson, J. and K. Paterson. 1986. Consider the Lilies: Plants of the Bible. New York: T. Crowell.

Rickett, H. W. 1974. Wild Flowers of the United States. New York: New York Botanical Garden. [Reproductions of watercolor paintings by Dowden for six title pages of the series.]

Todd, A. O. 1961. The Little Hill: A Chronicle of the Flora on a Half Acre at the Green Camp, Ringwood, New Jersey, CUAS 8, Cooper Union Art School.

Untermeyer, Louis. 1970. Plants of the Bible. New York, Golden Press.

Untermeyer, Louis, ed. 1970. Roses. New York: Golden Press.

Other resources
The Institute has organized and circulated travel shows of "Shakespeare's Flowers" and "State Flowers," and "Poisons in Our Path" is currently available. Works by Mrs. Dowden have been included in the Hunt Institute exhibitions Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden: Botanical Illustrations (1965), Flora Portrayed (1985), Gifts of Winter (2000), the 1st (1964), 2nd (1968), 3rd (1972), and 4th (1977) Internationals and Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden: A Blossom on the Bough (2002) and in the catalogues accompanying these exhibitions.

Individual portraits of Mrs. Dowden are available from the Hunt Institute portrait collection in Archives. Thumbnails of the individual portrait holdings are available as a PDF for research purposes. For publication-quality images, contact the Archivist to place an order.

Biographical citations for Mrs. Dowden are available from the Hunt Institute biographical collection in Archives as a PDF.

Eglantine (sweet-briar), Rosa rubiginosa L., Musk-rose (trailing rose), Rosa arvensis Huds., Woodbine (honeysuckle), Lonicera periclymenum L., watercolor by Anne Ophelia Dowden for Jessica Kerr's, Shakespeare's Flowers (New York, T. Crowell, 1969, pp. 68–69). © 2008 Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. All rights reserved. HI Art accession no. 5447.

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