Flora of North America
The Art department holdings include over 29,270 original paintings (mostly 20th-century watercolors), drawings and original prints dating from the Renaissance to the present. These holdings constitute one of the world's largest collections of botanical art and illustration. The department serves as an international center for the study of botanical art and illustration, acting as a repository for botanical artworks, providing access to information on artists working with plant themes and worldwide holdings of botanical art, and organizing and staging exhibitions.
Cypripedium, Orchidaceae, watercolor on vellum by Pancrace Bessa (1772-1835)
HI Art accession no. 0057.
Unlike many scientific institutions with holdings in the art of natural history, the Hunt Institute actively seeks to assemble a broad representation of contemporary works, from the strictly scientific to the more intentionally decorative. In many cases these works have been reproduced in some published medium. The Institute encourages accomplished artists working in this field, and their publishers, to deposit representative works in its collection for documentation, preservation, reference, study and, as appropriate, display in a program of major exhibitions and travel shows. Complementing the art collection are the Institute's Library and Archives departments. The Library's holdings are rich in the great illustrated works of the 17th to the 19th centuries. The Archives maintains extensive biographical records and a large iconographic collection that include data on and portraits of botanical artists past and present. The art collection serves as a reference and source of inspiration for botanists, natural historians, artists and art historians; as a storehouse of subjects for reproduction by writers and publishers; and as a major resource for research on botanical art and on related subjects such as the histories of printing and book illustration.
The nucleus of the collection was assembled by Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt (18821963), who aspired to own an original work by every artist represented in her rich botanical library. After Mrs. Hunt and her husband, Roy A. Hunt, founded the Institute (first known as the Hunt Botanical Library) in 1961, the care and growth of the art collection became the responsibility of John V. Brindle (19111991). Brindle was recognized around the world as an authority on botanical art and illustration from the 20th century. During Brindle's 20-year tenure as curator of art, he inaugurated the International Exhibition of Botanical Art and Illustration, organizing the first four Internationals. James J. White joined the Institute in 1978 as the assistant curator of art, becoming the curator in 1981. During his 32 years at the Institute, White refined the standard of excellence set by Brindle, overseeing eight Internationals, dozens of exhibitions and numerous catalogues.
The art collection contains varied holdings by the following:
Elfriede Abbe (1919)
James Bolton (17351799)
Andrew P. Brown (1948)
Richard Crist (19091985)
Edward Donovan (17681837)
E. Duncombe (early 19th century)
Walter Hood Fitch (18171892)
Laura Louise Foster (19181988)
Magdalena Rosina Funck (after, late 18th century)
Josiah Galleymore (18011868)
Janice Glimn-Lacy (1935)
James Goddard (late 18th century)
Damodar Lal Gurjar (1958)
John Hutchinson (18841972)
Johann Knapp (17781833)
Job Kuijt (1930)
Paul Landacre (18931963)
John Lindley (17991865)
Warren B. Mack (18691952)
Yoshikawa Matsumura (19061967)
Roderick (Rory) McEwen (19321982)
Seifuku Okada (19th century)
Marilena Pistoia (1933)
Jean Louis Marie Poiret (17551834)
Caroline M. Preston (active 19181920)
Pierre-Joseph Redouté (17591840)
Hendrik R. Rypkema (1940)
Christian Schkuhr (17411811)
Eugeni Sierra-Rafols (19191999)
Lilian Snelling (18791972)
James Sowerby (17571822)
Johann Friedrich Starke (18021872)
Henry Stempen (19242001)
E. Margaret Stones (1920)
Geraldine King Tam (1920)
Alice R. Tangerini (1949)
John Tyley (early 19th century)
John Wilkinson (1934)
Augusta Innes Withers (ca.17931860)
Kokei or Kodo Yoshikawa (19th century)
The collection also includes decorative, horticultural and non-botanical artworks as well as several individual artist and special botanical collections:
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 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Collection Wall Chart Collection Frederick Andrews Walpole Collection
The art collection is fully catalogued and is available on the Web site as the Catalogue of the Botanical Art Collection at the Hunt Institute database, to which images are being added for uncolored, pre-1900, out-of-copyright and public domain artworks.
This preliminary Register of Original Botanical Art throughout the world attempts to record the location of works from any time period done in traditional media such as watercolor, pastel, ink or pencil mostly in public collections. The main interest is in scientific illustrations of plants or any artworks that accurately depict botanical subjects as their main subjects and may be of taxonomic importance. We hope this guide will be valuable to those seeking to know the whereabouts of illustrations by particular artists or of specific plants and the contents of collections in particular cities or museums.
A supplement/revision of Plant, Animal & Anatomical Illustration in Art & Science: A Bibliographical Guide from the 16th Century to the Present Day, co-authored with bibliographer Gavin Bridson, is in preparation. In addition to the ever-growing body of secondary historical, critical, bibliographical, and biographical scholarship on natural-history and human anatomical illustration, this publication includes a comprehensive listing of primary instructional or "how-to-draw" books as well as of non-scientific iconographical or "pattern" books published for artists and designers.
The Institute established the International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration series in 1964 with the hope of supporting and encouraging contemporary botanical artists. Every three years, the International series attracts talented botanical artists from around the world, proving that in the world of art the infinite variety of plant forms and colors still holds special fascination and offers undiminished challenge and delight. Collectively, the catalogues from the International exhibitions contain the most comprehensive record available of 20th-century botanical artists and illustrators.
Producing art exhibitions and accompanying catalogues. For current and upcoming see: Exhibitions Providing information about botanical artists and illustrators Offering ready-to-hang traveling exhibitions to museums, schools, botanical gardens and other institutions
Please note that we do not provide appraisals and recommend your consulting an art appraiser or art gallery. Please see the appraisals section in your local yellow pages for the appraiser nearest you. With a slide or photocopy we may be able to tell you the publication source, but it is not always possible to determine the technique. Please contact us before sending images as email attachments. We are not prepared to make authentications.
Donating to Art
Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt's botanical collections of books, art, manuscripts, and portraits are known for their depth and fine quality, reflecting her enthusiasm and expertise in plants, gardens, books, and history. She was determined that her collections be "living" resourcesnot only preserved but also curated actively and used productively in the service of science and scholarship. To those ends, we continue to develop and enhance the collections at Hunt Institute, working to make them accessible and to preserve them for the future. We have an international audience and a small but growing group of interested donors. You can help to strengthen our collections and programs through material and/or monetary gifts.
In addition to acknowledging donations by letter, we mention them in our Bulletin and on our Web site, and in pertinent exhibition catalogues. Of course, donors who wish to remain anonymous could be listed as such or may decline any official mention.
The Art Department collects excellent quality botanical watercolors, drawings (pastel, ink, graphite, and pencil) and prints, preferably in good condition, from all time periods. We receive artworks from galleries, collectors, artists and publishers. We are particularly desirous to acquire artworks accepted to our triennial International Exhibitions of Botanical Art & Illustration and subsequent travel shows. Some authors and illustrators are surprised that we welcome and catalogue all of the artworks produced for a publication, such as the 121 ink drawings for Janice Glimn-Lacy and Peter B. Kaufman’s Botany Illustrated: Introduction to Plants, Major Groups, Flowering Plant Families (New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984).
Be assured your gift will be preserved in a museum environment with proper temperature, humidity, lighting and security controls. Also, your gift will be included in exhibitions and travel shows as appropriate and available in our world-renown collection for study by artists and scholars in perpetuity. Artists need not be concerned about our releasing their images for outside publication since the Hunt Institute never assumes copyright.
Photomechanical reproductions, laserprints or other facsimiles are not catalogued but deposited in an ancillary collection. If you are considering a specific gift, please describe it to us and mail a photograph before sending the original so that we can consider it for inclusion in our collection.
Our letter of acknowledgment will include a list of the material received. Any artworks deemed of insufficient quality will, of course, be returned to the donor.
We are not permitted by the IRS, nor are we sufficiently knowledgeable, to make appraisals on items donated to us; however, if we are aware of a prior comparable sale, we will be pleased to share that information.
Monetary donations to Hunt Institute’s Art Department are tax deductible. Two special funds include monies independent of fiscal year restrictions:
Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden Art Acquisition Fund
This fund is named in honor of the late artist Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden (19072007). A 1930 graduate of Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), Anne Ophelia is considered America’s leading botanical artist of the past century. After working as a teacher and a textile designer, Anne Ophelia turned her attention to botanical illustration in the 1950s, embarking on another career. She worked from specimens to achieve correct and exacting details in her artworks and with botanists to ensure accuracy. Fascinated by the natural world and its connections, especially pollination, she wanted to educate, interest and engage the public about plants. To this end, she illustrated nine books and wrote and illustrated eleven for which she also did the design, layout and the publication preparation herself decades before desktop publishing. Her passion for botanical art, science and education made her so special and inspired a generation of artists. She also maintained numerous contacts with botanists, artists, and botanical gardens, and whenever she spotted new artistic talent, she made recommendations to the Hunt Institute.
The naming of this acquisition fund after Anne Ophelia is a fitting tribute to her legacy. Our restricted budget hampers the acquisition of works by artists, particularly those new to our series of International Exhibitions. Unlike funds in our regular budget, which are contingent on the fiscal year, monies in the Anne Ophelia Todd Dowden Art Acquisition Fund will remain available until needed. The purchase of artworks from this fund will enable us to support and recognize artists working in the genre of botanical art.
Our collection includes Anne Ophelia’s bequest of over 450 artworks from which we have organized several exhibitions and travel shows. In donating her artworks to the Institute, Anne Ophelia wanted them to be preserved, but she also wanted them to be accessible for study by botanical artists. This fund will allow us to preserve artworks by the current generation of botanical artists and make them available for study by the next.
Individuals, as well as botanical art societies and other organizations, may find this fund an attractive way to support the Hunt Institute. We are very pleased to thank Lotte H. Blaustein and the American Society of Botanical Artists for the first donations to this fund. For further information write Lugene Bruno Curator of Art, Hunt Institute.
The General Art Department Fund provides for exhibition materials, conservation, and catalogues. An immediate need is to replace the ultraviolet-filtered Plexiglas on each of our travel exhibitions. Mat board and Plexiglas are required for each in-house exhibition. Some other examples include rehousing our USDA Forest Service Collection, Hitchcock-Chase Collection of Grasses, and various collections, such as those by 19th-century artists Edward Donovan (England) and Isaac Sprague (United States). Estimates on materials for each of these are about $1500. Still other collections are our North American exploring expedition annotated proof plates in need of cleaning and repairing; also our 18th-century French botanist Michel Adanson collection containing thousands of woodcuts requiring extensive treatment. An important use of gifts to this fund is toward exhibition catalogues, which may cost $20,00025,000. Contributions can be assigned to special projects, such as digitization and databasing projects, equipment or software, technical consultants, or additional project staff to do scanning, indexing, data input, transcription, or translation.
Memorial gifts are also welcome. Your specified credit line can follow the title of the artwork on our exhibition label and in our catalogue and be included in the Web database of the collection of artworks in the Hunt Institute.
Other Types of Contributions
There are other ways that you can help. If you see botanical artists’ biographies and obituaries, drop a note to our Curator or Archivist about them. A splendid contribution is your informing others of the Hunt Institute’s role in botanical art and encouraging them to visit. Customized tours, including the current exhibition or emphasizing various aspects of the collections, can be arranged.
Please don't hesitate to confer with us about any proposed gift, including its use and acknowledgment. We appreciate your involvement, and we thank you for your interest.
Lugene B. Bruno
Curator of Art
& Senior Research Scholar