Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art


22 July - 30 August 2020
Print Gallery | Free entry

Drawn from Nature celebrated three centuries of Irish botanical art. The exhibition included drawings, watercolours, prints, and illustrated publications dating from the 1700s to the modern day. The backgrounds, motivations, and methods of the artists exhibited were diverse. Yet all are connected by a shared desire to observe, record, and advance our knowledge of the natural world.

While some of these artists ventured far across the world, others barely travelled beyond their townlands. Many were celebrated during their lifetimes; others (mainly women) worked diligently, anonymously, and with little recognition. In their work, art and science become one.

The artworks depict a wide variety of plants - common and rare; native to Ireland and exotic; growing wild and carefully cultivated. Included were Botanical Portraits, Illustrated Flora, and the work of Botanical Illustrators. The exhibition also featured work by ten contemporary artists who follow in this rich artistic tradition and forge the way ahead.

Curator | Patricia Butler (guest curator), assisted by Janet McLean (National Gallery of Ireland)

This exhibition closed on 30 August 2020. But, you can scroll down to explore a selection of watercolours, drawings and illustrations from the exhibition.

Watch an illustrated talk about orchid paintings in the collection of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin.

Botanical illustration

Phycologia Britannica, or, A History of British Sea-Weeds (London: 1871, Vol IV)

William Henry Harvey (1811-1866)

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The Botanical Portraitist

The aim of the botanical portraitist is to convey information in as highly scientific and accurate a way as possible. The plant, together with aspects of the individual parts, is drawn in minute detail. The artist’s aim is to determine how the specimen is constructed in order to gain an understanding of its form, character, tone and colour.

Contemporary Artists

Explore a selection of work by contemporary botanical artists.

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