Early settlers were aware of the significance of their arrival on a new continent so they kept journals and made paintings and sketches of what they saw. Many of these works of art remain, stored in the National Library, without any record of their creators.
John White, Surgeon with the First Fleet published an illustrated Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales in 1790 containing 65 plates of natural history specimens, including plants, the book being translated into French, German, and Swedish. Of the English illustrated magazines there was …. (see later) Drawings returned to London were worked on by various artists including Frederick Nodder, artist to Queen Charlotte (wife of George III).[George, p. 1]
John Lewin (1770-1819) was the first professional artist to arrive in New Holland as a free man , his illustrations though of a high botanical standard, were derived from the broader painting tradition. Among his better known works are several studies of the Gymea Lily. [Jones-O’Neillpp.60,64] Painter John Lewin (1770-1819) was commissioned for paintings of Gymia Lily, c. 1810, for Palmer in India. One of the Waratah c. 1806 was commissioned for Elizabeth Macarthur and Allan Cunningham noted that it was Lewin’s paintings that adorned the walls of the more impressive rooms in Government House.
William Gould (1803-1853) was a later arrival and a convict who arrived in 1827. Though a difficult person moved around to different assignments and supervisors his botanical illustrations were high standard.
Banks and the Linnean Society.
References in Cultivated Flora.
Sydney Parkinson, a Scottish Quaker who had previously worked for Banks, was chosen as the natural history painter. Banks had included Parkinson on the team of naturalists on the Endeavour on the recommendation of James Lee of Hammersmith, on an annual salary of £80. Like other artists before him Parkinson made colour-coded sketches of his Australian plants subjects but he tragically died at sea aged 25 after the ship’s crew contracted dysentery and malaria in the port of Batavia (Jakarta) on the way back to England. Altogether he completed 269 plant paintings, with 673 incomplete and 268 drawings of animals. Despite Banks’ intention to produce a florilegium with descriptions by Solander his work was published much later and in black ink only in 1900–1905 and an exquisite set of coloured impressions in 1981–1988, completed March 1989. During the fortnight in Botany Bay Parkinson was able to complete 94 botanical sketches.
The great Florilegium of his work, some completed by himself and others by artists contracted later, was finally published in 1988 as Banks’s Florilegium by Alecto Historical Editions in 35 volumes and has since been digitized by the Natural History Museum in London.
Between 1793 and 1795 Publication of Englishman James Smith’s A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland illustrated by James Sowerby: the first book devoted to New Holland flora.
[Australia’s pioneer as Ferdinand Bauer was for botanical art. Bauer returned to England in 1805, working for the Admiralty until about 1811 completing more than 200 drawings of plants and animals from more than 2000 of his meticulously accurate field pencil sketches, many carefully annotated with his colour coding. He published his completed work as Illustrationes florae Novae-Hollandiae (1813–1816). He is commemorated in names like Freycinetia baueriana, Rhopalostylis baueri and, with his brother Franz, in the genus Bauera.
Thomas Watling was a settlement painter (see Cavanagh).
Over the period of scientific voyages of exploration natural history illustrators changed from being informed amateur artists to being fully trained professionals with a high premium on scientific accuracy.
[The artistic output of convicts and colonial administrators under governors and John White was huge – George Raper, John hunter, John Doody and Thomas Watling. White shipped back to Enhgland for Naturalists Miscellany and Specimen of the Botany Bay of New Holland and Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae from 1790s to 1800s glutting the market. This tradition was to carry on through John Lewin and Fer Bauer until its culmination in the mid 19th century with John Cotton, Elizabeth and John Gould and George French Angas. Finney p.7]
A number of early settlers left examples of their work to posterity, among them Governor John Hunter (1737-1821) whose sketchbook, published as an illustrated book A Steady Hand in 2012, records scenes and wildlife of New South Wales (Jan.-Oct. & May 1789-Mar. 1790) 1788), Norfolk Island (from Mar. 1790) and Lord Howe Island. Aboard First Fleet flagship HMS Sirius with Captain Hunter (Arthur Phillip’s second in command) were several men who left illustrations of their experience for posterity including Watling and the talented 18-year-old midshipman George Raper, some of whose paintings were copied by Hunter. The largest collections of Raper’s work are held in the First Fleet Art Collection of the Natural History Museum in London (the world’s largest collection of First Fleet art) and the Ducie Collection of the National Library of Australia. But the first professional artist was animal artist John Lewin who also tackled the local flora, some of his work being included in the Hunter sketchbook.
Flinders’s botanical artist on the Investigator in 1801 was Ferdinand Bauer. There is no doubt that his paintings were among the best of all time but sadly only 15 of them were printed in the 19th century. Bauer also made botanical collections along with Brown – even some on Norfolk Island that were made without Brown’s company. He also collected herbarium specimens. In 1805 The Investigator had arrived back in England with over 2,000 of Bauer’s field drawings.
Apart from Redouté it seems that the only painter to rival Bauer was James Sowerby who painted some illustrations for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine and James Smith’s A specimen … But many of the early illustrations were based on sketches and herbarium specimens, not the living plants. His brother Franz was similarly talented.
Bauer met John Sibthorpe, Sherardian Professor of Botany at Oxford, at the University of Vienna Botanic Garden and was invited to join a botanical trip to Greece returning in 1781 with over 1,500 sketches as a basis for Flora Graeca published between 1806 and 1840 and considered by Joseph Hooker ‘the greatest botanical work that has ever appeared’.
TITLE PUB’N PLATES
Jardin de la Malmaison
(text by Ventenat) 1803-4 120 (20 6-plate instalments) in 2 bound volumes. 200 copies printed
(text for vols 1-4 by A DeCandolle 3 by La Roche, last Raffeneau-Delile) 1802-1816 486 (80 instalments in 8 volumes
Description des Plantes Rares Cultivées á Malmaison et á Navarre
(text Bonpland) 1812-1817 64 (11 instalments)
(text Clause Thory) 1817-1824
The most prolific and celebrated botanical artist of the early nineteenth century, and probably all-time, was Pierre Redouté whose best paintings were produced while he worked at the Jardin des Plantes and Malmaison (?working for both Marie Antoinette and Josephine). Four of his most famous works were funded by Josephine: Jardin de la Malmaison, Les Liliacées, Description des Plantes Rares Cultivées á Malmaison et á Navarre, and Les Roses. Over a period of about 50 years and with the assistance of Louis XVI and Empress Josephine he produced at least 2,600 colour plates of more than 1800 different species. Though he is lauded as the greatest ever painter of roses, over 100 of his paintings were the highest quality representations of Australian plants. His first pen and wash picture of a eucalypt was of the type species Eucalyptus obliqua (collected by David Nelson and William Anderson) from Cooks third voyage. The illustration was made in 1787 on a visit to London at the age of 28 and is the earliest image of a plant in the genus Eucalyptus and published in 1789 in L’Heritier’s Sertum Anglicum (selection of English plants) which was based on rare plants “cultivated in the gardens around London, especially in the Royal Gardens at Kew”. Josephine recognized his talent by conferring on him the title “Painter to Josephine, Empress of the French” together with a salary of 18,000 francs p.a. Jardin de Malmaison was printed in 20 parts between 1803 and 1805.
His most accomplished painting of garden plants was five folio-volumes for the gardens at Petit-Montrouge and Empress Josephine’s château Malmaison with descriptions in the first three volumes by Etienne-Pierre Ventenat and in the last volume by Aimé Bonpland.
Petit-Montrouge was a garden established by Jaques-Martin Cels that was to become Paris’s most celebrated Enlightenment acclimatization nursery with hothouses to display newly introduced exotic plants which were his speciality (with a network of plant exchange), many sent to him from North America by André Michaux …. but others coming from New Holland possibly from collections made by Labillardiere and his gardener-botanist assistant Félix Delahaye. The second folio written by Ventenat, Choix des Plantes, don’t la plupart son cultivées dans le jardin de Cels, was published in 10 parts between 1803 and 1808 contained 60 plates by Redouté. Jaques-Martin’s son François.
Château Malmaison was purchased by Joséphine Bonaparte in 1798. She had a passion for roses and inherited from the previous owner a garden in the fashionable English style. Further surrounding land was purchased and an eminent architect engaged to create further gardens á l’anglaise. An orangery to rival the best in the world (at Kew and Schönbrunn) was constructed after 1800. At a time when professorial salaries at the Jardin de Plantes were 2,500 francs p.a., Redoute was paid 18,000 for his illustrations for the 2 volumes published in 20 installments between 1803-1805. Jardin de Malmaison in two folio volumes was dedicated to Joséphine Bonaparte; it included 120 coloured plates and is one of the world’s all-time greatest flower books and among the finest botanical art of the Enlightenment, the plants described with binomials and classified using the systems of both Jussiaeu and Linnaeus, many new to science. Plate 67, Josephinia imperatricis, was dedicated by Ventenat to the Empress “May this modest homage recall the enlightened protection that Her Majesty accorded science and the brilliance with which she beautified science”. It had been grown from seed collected in western Nouvelle Hollande by Hamelin on his voyage with Baudin to the South Seas (1800-1803).
Plate 73 was a new genus dedicated to Napolean, Calomeria (in French bon partie). The Calomeria amaranthoides (Qld, NSW, SA) was also grown from seed collected in Nouvelle Hollande donated by Dumont de Courset. Ventenat dies in 1808 and on the recommendation of Alexander von Humboldt the Empress appointed Aimé Bonpland as botanist to complete the work with Redoute which was published as Description des plantes rares cultivees a Malmaison at a Navarre in 1813 (as 11 installments between 1812 and 1817). Among new species described was, for example, Hovea celsii (now H. elliptica), grown from seed obtained on the Baudin expedition, in a genus which had been named by Robert Brown. Most of the 64 plates in this volume were also by Redoute.
By the mid 19th century Belgium, well placed to market plants across Western Europe, was a major horticultural player with names that still echo through the industry – van Houtte, Lemaire, Verschaffelt and Morren.
Eugene von Guérard was the pre-eminent artist from the 1850s to the 1870s his work featuring in inter-colonial and world expositions while he was master of the Victorian Painting School and curator of the Victorian National Gallery. When he returned to Europe in 1881 his work was soon eclipsed by interest in the Australian Impressionists, Edwardian artists and moderns, and it is only in recent times that a reappraisal would rank him as Australia’s foremost colonial artist. His book Australian Landscapes consisting of 24 lithographic plates was published in 1865 and the most important collection of his works held in the National Gallery of Victoria.
Whatever else his virtues Ferdinand Mueller was not renowned for his use of botanical illustrators.
The Director of Sydney Botanic Garden Joseph Maiden (1896-1924) had his own illustrator, Margaret Flockton, trained at the South Kensington Art School in London who produced the lithographs for his 8-volume Forest Flora of New South Wales and A Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus through which she is commemorated in Eucalyptus flocktoniae. In South Australia John Black the author of the ?first flora of South Australia produced his own illustrations.
Actual travelling artists Austrian Ferdinand Bauer with Flinders was possibly one of the best botanical draughtsmen the world has known and his work together with the landscapes of William Westall, George Angas and Samuel Gill have left us impressions of pristine landscapes that no longer exist.
Ferdinand Mueller & his artists and connections
Mueller at first found it difficult to find illustrators for his copious descriptions of new plant discoveries but eventually enlisted the assistance of a German resident Ludwig Becker and later the Swiss Frederick Schoenfeld. Among Mueller’s collectors and illustrators were, from NSW, Caroline Louisa Atkinson and in Victoria Ellis Rowan.Clarke. Over a period of 40 years Mueller was to oversee the production of some 589 plates by artists that included Emil Todt, Robert Austin and Robert Graff.[Durragh pp. 160-161] Eventually producing well illustrated educational material for schools.
Ellis Rowan achieved international fame. Rosa Fiveash was a botanical illustrator for ?botansts J.E. Brown and R.S. Rogers. and Sydney Parkinson.
JOURNAL ARTIST(S) DATE
The Botanical Magazine; or Flower-Garden Displayed – (becoming Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in ?1995) – William Curtis Sydenham Edwards 1787- today
Botanical Repository – Henry Andrews 1797
Herbier Général de l’Amateur 1814-1827
The Botanical Register Sydenham Edwards 1815-1847
Botanical Cabinet – Loddiges 1817-1833
The British Flower Garden – Robert Sweet 1823-1837
The Botanist – Benjamin Mound 1825-1830
Gartenflora – Regel 1852-1940
Illustration Horticole 1854-1896
Annale de Botanique et d’Horticulture, La Belgique Horticole 1858-1862
Paxton’s Magazine of Botany 1849-
Edward’s Botanical Register 1829-1847
Le Jardin Fleuriste … 1851-
Flores des Serres at des Jardines de L’Europe
Sweet’s Flora Australasica
The Magazine of horticulture, botany … 1837-
La Belgique Horticole 1851-
Icones et Descriptiones Plantes Cult et …
Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelle 1816-1830
Some European magazines illustrating Australian plants
Flower painters & botanical illustrators
With the Enlightenment a clear distinction was made between ’ flower painters’ whose work captured the beauty and appeal of plants while the ‘botanical illustrators’ worked closely with the botanists to indicate those features that distinguished a particular plant, its diagnostic characters. Most outstanding of WAs early illustrators was Ferdinand Bauer whose paintings are now housed in the London Natural History Museum. After settlement prominent artists included Margaret (Lady) Forrest, wife of the first Premier, Emily Pelloe who illustrated books on WA wildflowers (1921)and orchids (1930), Edgar Dell who worked with Gardner on West Australian Wildflowers (1935) with80 colour plates. In the 1950s there was the work of Rica Erickson and in more recent times Margaret Wilson and Margaret Pieroni, both dedicated conservationists who produce still produce work of the highest possible standard.
The social hierarchy of nineteenth century Britain gave upper and middle class young ladies an education that included drawing and painting as a feminine occupation that was “moral and innocent” – there was an accepted formula as set out in instruction books of the day and this meant a similarity of form and composition in the earlier work. It was a creative diversion and hand-illustrated cards were sent to friends in Australia and family back in England. Many sketchbooks and paintings by colonial artists are held in the Pictures Collection of the National Library of Australia which includes more than 900 of the paintings of Ellis Rowan completed as she travelled alone round the world.
Arrival of photography
By the 1850s photographers were working in Melbourne but transporting the equipment on expeditions would have been extremely troublesome. Three photographs record the start of the Burke and Wills expedition and 42 plates were made in Central Australia taken by the Alfred Howitt’s relief expedition but these were accidentally exposed on their return. At this date the main means of pictorial recording were paintings and sketches.
By the end of the 19th century as photography became more widely used and two World Wars commanded peoples attention botanical art passed into a period of stagnation before its revival in the 1960s and 70s.
Landscape painters – the Heidelberg school of Australian impressionism
To this list must be added those landscape artists who have communicated a strong sense of the character of Australia’s vegetation, its unique textures, colours and moods. Of those not fully freed from their European conventions are ‘colonial’ artists John Glover, Conrad Martens, Eugen von Guerard and Abram-Louis Buvelot.
Of the Australian impressionist school Frederick McCubbin stands out as an artist who cleverly captured the light, colours and atmosphere of the Australian bush. ?Albert Tucker.
It is easy to forget that in books we do not see the artist’s actual work but a copy of it that has been accurately replicated in some way on the printed page. Achieving a true simulation of the artist’s work using coloured inks has proved a major technological challenge.
Techniques used to do this were so elaborate, and the audience so small, that until the mid 19th century the work of Australian artists was sent back to Europe for printing. However, by the end of the 19th century Australian printing was as accomplished as anywhere in the world.[Darragh, T.A. 2012. ‘The Desert Shall Rejoice and Bloom’: Botanical Prints in Colonial Australia in Capturing Flora: 300 years of Botanical Art. Art Gallery of Ballarat.p.141] although the people doing this work in Australia were mostly from Europe, this situation changing at the end of the 19th century.
At first it was colonial governments that accepted the role of publisher, the techniques available being: wood engraving, metal plate engraving, and lithography.
In the earliest days of printing plant illustrations, like those in the old Herbals, were mostly produced using woodcuts. Blocks of wood were carved along the grain using tools called gouges so that the image stood out in relief: the block could then be roller-inked so that only the relief was inked and the image then ‘stamped’ onto the paper. The artist’s general design would be outlined in some way on the woodblock and then the detailed carving was completed by a specialist craftsman, the block-cutter. Wood engraving used the end grain of a block of wood and carving tools like those used for metal engraving. This enabled much more detailed work and because the wood blocks could be inserted with the metal print, entire pages could be pre-set for the printing press. Wood engraving was used from the late 16th century through to the late 19th century but from its earliest days was challenged by metal plate engraving techniques.
With metal plate engraving lines were etched using a sharp tool, the burin, in a process known as intaglio. Copperplates allowed much more detail than wood engraving but the metal was rather soft and later replaced by hardened steel. However, in Australia the preferred method of producing botanical plates was by lithography.
Lithography uses a metal plate with a surface that has not been engraved in any way but treated chemically so that the differential acceptance of inks allows the creation of ink impressions using a special press. Images are printed either directly from the plate or after transfer to a more amenable printing surface (offset printing).
Botanical prints were generally produced by lithography and at first colouring was done by laborious hand-colouring but by the mid 19th century in Europe this had been replaced by chromolithography using individual plates for each colour addition.
Occasionally ‘nature printing’ was used, the plants themselves being inked on the plates. This was the technique used by Ludwig Becker (1808-1861) for one of the first three illustrations produced for Mueller which appeared in the Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria in 1857.[Darragh p.152] Becker worked with Mueller until 1859 producing six octavo plates, 14 quarto plates and three preparatory drawings. [Darragh p.154] Thiswwork was continued by Swiss Frederick Schoenfeld (1810-1868)who completed Becker’s work and through to 1868 completed 80 octavo plates,90 quarto plates before leaving as Victoria fell on hard economic times. Schoenfeld tragically committed suicide the same year.
Mueller did not return to illustrated publications until 1873 when a paper on fossils from the Ballarat goldfields was illustrated by the lithographs of Richard Shepherd (1825-1885), then for his own taxonomic work Eucalyptographia three artists were employed: Emil Todt (1809-1900), Robert A.austen (1850-1900) and Johann Rummel (1835-1906) who had formerly been employed by Mueller in his chemical laboratory. Austen died in 1879 and was replaced by Robert Graff in 1883 (c.1836-?) who remained at the Gardens working on the lithography of Mueller’s work until 1892. For popular educational books commenced in the late 1870s Muller had used wood engravings.
Meanwhile in Queensland Colonial botanist Frederick Bailey employed lithographic artists Henry Eaton and Margaret Hope for publications illustrating the Queensland flora.
At the end of the 19th century technology changed again as photographic coloured illustrations could now be produced directly from the artwork .
Gender and botanical art in the Victorian era
For middle and upper class women of the Victorian era employment in the workforce was considered demeaning. Women were regarded as fragile physically and intellectually and were encouraged to remain delicate, lovely, and shielded from the world. A woman’s place was in the home and it was for the man to provide for the family. If the wife had to work then the man was not fulfilling his role. It would take two world wars to make a serious impression on this perception.
Apart from home-keeping and social activities there were few options for females wishing to broaden their horizons. Socially acceptable activities included music, dancing, drawing and decorative arts like needlework and painting.
The natural world in general, and plants in particular (collecting insects involved cruelty), were regarded as a suitable amusement and diversion, especially as it involved fresh air and brought people closer to God’s beautiful creation – so women would be found in large numbers on nature rambles, learning how to identify, press and paint flowers, taking an interest in horticulture, and attending botany classes. Linnaeus had written that his system was easy to master ‘Yes, even for Women themselves’.[Wulf p. 224]
Photographs in the library of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne show us Directors Ferdinand Mueller and William Guilfoyle surrounded by coteries of crinolined ladies, their notebooks at the ready. An general introduction to the historical and social context of female artists in nineteenth century Australia is given in Picturesque Pursuits (2005) by Caroline Jordan while detailed accounts of some of Mueller’s female collectors is told in Penny Olsen’s Collecting Ladies: Ferdinand Mueller and Women Botanical Artists.
If the woman was from a wealthy or influential background then these activities would be fittingly magnificent in scale. While their husbands were off managing affairs of state, women like Josephine of France, Catherine of Russia and assorted duchesses and countesses in Britain would compete with one-another by accumulating plant collections, managing the landscapes of their large country estates, and taking an interest in the latest botanical literature and art. The spouse of George III, Queen Charlotte, was patroness of botany and the fine arts. Napoleon’s wife Josephine would create one of the world’s most famous Enlightenment gardens at Malmaison in Paris containing a vast collection of roses, lilies, and introductions from scientific voyages of exploration, the landscape set out in the fashionable style of Le Jardin Anglais.
The obverse of this situation was that men taking an interest in botany were regarded as rather ‘effeminate’: much better if they were occupied with manly activities getting bloody fighting for King and country on a battlefield somewhere. It was without doubt an era contributing to prejudicial assumptions about ‘hard’ male academic subjects like maths, physics and chemistry and ‘soft’ female subjects like botany and biology. To the more muscular and heroically minded men of the age Banks and Solander must have appeared a very strange pair – and, for that matter, biology altogether a rather namby-pamby business. Who’s for flower power chaps?
To assist English women with their botanical pursuits there was a small library of titles like James Sowerby’s A Botanical Drawing Book: or, An Easy Introduction to Drawing Flowers According to Nature (1807), John Lindley’s Ladies’ Botany: or, A Familiar Introduction to the Study of the Natural System of Botany (1834, 1837), and from Jane Loudon, wife of garden chronicler John Loudon, there was The Ladies’ Flower Garden of Ornamental Annuals (1844). Botanical chatter was found in The New Lady’s Magazine, or Polite and Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex and Jean-Jaques Rousseau had written an extremely popular book Letters on the Elements of Botany: Addressed to a Lady (1787) noting that studying nature ‘prevents the tumults of passion’.[see Wulf p.224]
Horticultural historian Andrea Wulf notes that a poem Loves of the Plants (1789) by physician Erasmus Darwin (grandfather to Charles Darwin) had captured the imagination of the British public and inadvertently promoted both botany and the Linnaean system of plant classification, making them seem not only accessible but ‘effervescent and delightful’. His witty and erudite verses based on the Linnaean classification system turned plants into people, allowed for risqué allusions that included much blushing, rudeness, fondness, modesty, flushed cheeks, tears, jealousy, trembling, butterflies, nymphs, glow-worms, haughty maids, and so on. Erasmus was a promoter of science schools for girls and he described his verses as ‘little pictures suspended over the chimney of a Lady’s dressing-room’. He was one of many cashing in on the massive boom in botanical and horticultural literature at the end of the 18th century. [Wulf pp. 225–227]
Louisa Meredith (1812-1895)
Books like these would have been sold in Australia where among early 19th century female artists can be listed Louisa Meredith and her illustrated book of poems The Romance of Nature (1836), Our Wildflowers Familiarly Described and Illustrated (1839) and An Autumn Ramble on the Wye (1839) which she produced in England before moving to Australia in 1839 where she spent most of her time in Tasmania. Here she produced several unillustrated accounts of Australian flora for an overseas market: Notes and Sketches of New South Wales (1844), My Home in Tasmania (1852) and Over the Straits: A Visit to Victoria (1861). Later she produced two illustrated books of nature poetry printed in England using the new technique of chromolithography: Some of My Bush Friends in Tasmania … (1860) and Bush Friends in Tasmania Last Series (1891) as she became more adventurous in the flower painting tradition. Meredith regarded Jane Loudon as a friend and acknowledged the influence of John Sowerby on her work.[Neale, A. OCAG p. 407 who cites Ellis, V.R. 1979. Louise Anne Meredith: A Tigress in Exile. Sandy Bay, Tasmania.]
Fanny de Mole (1835-1866) & Fanny Charsley (1828-1915)
Arrived in Adelaide in 1856, more or less an invalid, fleeing a background of poor health in London. Convalescing here she improved gradually, publishing her work as Wild Flowers of South Australia (1861) with 20 hand coloured lithographs (painted by her family) depicting 38 species of plants.
Fanny Charsley had come to Melbourne in 1857 from Buckinghamshire and corresponded with Mueller at the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (she was one of about 200 female correspondents who sought advice from Mueller) before returning to England in 1867 where she published The Wild Flowers Around Melbourne in the same year thanking Mueller for his botanical assistance in the Preface. It contained 13 engraved lithographic plates which she had individually hand coloured herself.
Among other flower painters communicating with Mueller and who published their work were: Anna Walker (1830-1913) Flowers in New South Wales (1875) while in Tasmania Eliza Blyth (1820-1894) offered classes in flower painting at a school in Hobart producing a folio of Tasmanian Flowers for the Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne in 1866-7.
Ellis Rowan (1848-1922)
Born in Melbourne and living on the Derriweit estate at Mount Macedon, Victoria, Ellis Rowan grew up with a love of the wildflowers and family connections to the Gardens in Melbourne. Though self-taught she had visited England and probably received some training in basic drawing, her watercolours and paintings soon catching public attention.
A meeting with English flower painter Marianne North in 1880 galvanized her determination to travel in search of challenging plant subjects which took her to N Qld (1887, 1891-92), WA (1889), NZ (1893-94), London (1895-96), USA and West Indies (1897-1903), also SA, NSW and back to Qld and WA. In New Guinea in 1916 she contracted malaria which eventually lead to her death.
She asked Mueller to assist her with plant identification, Mueller encouraging her to travel to Germany where she could hone her skills in botanical illustration, a suggestion that she did not take up. She produced more than 3,000 paintings winning many medals and awards both in Australia and overseas. A collection of 947 of her paintings was purchased by the National Library of Australia in 1923. Her work combines the beauty and individuality of floral art with extraordinary botanical detail. [McKay, J. OCAG p.520] [Aitken Capturing Flora]
Rosa Fiveash (1854-1938)
Rosa Fiveash lived in North Adelaide with her sister receiving art lessons from a governess and, hoping to take up a position as art teacher she attended the Adelaide School of Art and Design. Being single she could teach in a school rather than being forced to teach privately. As her work became known she was appointed as botanical illustrator for J. E. Brown’s The Forest Flora of South Australia (1883-1890) the paintings prepared for lithography by Harcourt Barrett. Her work was also sought by botanists including E. Stirling and J. Black and a collection of her work was acquired by the South Australian Art Gallery in 1900. Some of her illustrations were republished in Australian Orchids (1974). [Collett, J. 2012][Jones, D. OCAG p.221]
Margaret Flockton (1861-1953)
Sussex-born Maragaret Flockton was born into an artistic family, her father being an artist. She trained at the South Kensington Art School where she learned lithography, moving to Sydney in 1881 working for several years as a commercial artist, then offering art lessons at her studio in Castlereagh Street where Joseph Maiden’s daughter Mary took lessons and later did some illustrations for the botanic gardens in a voluntary capacity. In the 1890s she exhibited alongside Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts at the Art Society of New South Wales. A set of chromolithographs was commissioned by the American tobacco Company first printed as cards then, in 1904, as a booklet Australian Wild Flowers (1908). She also wrote and illustrated a booklet on lichens.
In 1901 she became the first female artist employed in an Australian herbarium and here she was employed by the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney from 1901-1927 being paid two shillings an hour to work primarily on Maiden’s A Critical Revision of the Genus Eucalyptus which was published between 1903 and 1931 in 75 parts, and The Forest Flora of New South Wales published between 1902 and 1925 in 77 parts.
All-in-all Flockton produced about 1,000 illustrations now stored in the archives of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, her retirement in 1927 at the age of 67drawing to a close a fascinating era of Australian botanical art that was not to recover again until the 1950s and ‘60s. She was not replaced by the Sydney gardens until 1980.
[Gillbank, L. OCAG p. 222]
[Collett, J. 2012. The Ornamental Garden: Lady Amateurs and Female Botanical Artists. In Capturing Flora.pp. 177-222]
Between about 1890 and 1950 economic and political matters overshadowed the early dynamism, excitement and quality of both botany and its work. This was the result of many factors: botanical giants like Mueller would never be seen again, there simply were not the people with such experience and drive to step into his shoes. Perhaps too the period of genuine discovery was drawing to a close and with it too some of the romance of plant discovery and description as the links with European botanical world diminished. European botany too had struggled to recapture the botanical momentum developed by Banks. Mueller, being German, and with European friends in high places, had maintained this contact across the globe. But Australia was now having to find its own way. Patronage had passed into history and in hard times for a botanist to have access to an artist was a luxury. The 1890s and 1930s saw two depressions sapped enthusiasm for what would have been seen as indulgent projects. Multiple colour plate lithography was extremely expensive and in the early 1900s was replaced by colour printing – either as offset printing or, occasionally by frawing directly onto lithographic plates. Flower painting had become less popular as a leisure activity partly due to the reduction of the privileged class and assumptions about what was appropriate leisure pursuit for well-to-do ladies.
Within this period w ere the illustrations of Eileen Mort to Florence Sulman’s A Popular Guide to the Wildflowers of New South Wales (1914-1915). Among the better known ‘modernist’ flower painters were Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, Helen Ogilvie.
At Sydney Botanical Garden the obvious talent of Margaret Flockton had been acknowledged by Director Joseph Maiden who paid her 2 shillings an hour giving her the honour of being Australia’s first acknowledged botanical artist to be employed by a Herbarium. She remained at the Gardens for 27 years, retiring when she was 67 and completing about 1,000 illustrations beginning with Maiden’s Genus Eucalyptus and The Forest Flora of New South Wales which started out as pencil sketches before being converted to lithographic plates. She retired at the start of the Great Depression and would not be replaced for many years.
1950-1960 Modern photography
With the advent of the camera a few believed that the task of botanical art was over as cameras could produce ‘actual’ reproductions of plants at a fraction of the cost of a professional artist. It was now a turn for the men, this period being marked by two Victorian amateur painters, William Nicholls (1885-1951) and Stan Kelly (1911-2001).
William Nicholls & Stan Kelly
William Nicholls had some training in drawing at the Ballarat School before joining the staff of Footscray Park where he was a propagator. As a member of the Field Naturalist’s Club of Victoria, indulging his passion for orchids with a vast output of detailed paintings published in 1950-51 using both offset and lithographic methods but his major legacy Orchids of Australia was not published until 1969 many years after his death.
Stan Kelly was an engine driver from Ararat and a self-taught artist. His work did not include intricate botanical detail but nevertheless his paintings of eucalypts were sufficient to assist identification and were executed with a distinctive personal style. Starting off as a hobby painter in the 1940s his work on eucalypts became more serious with his successful publication of Forty Eucalypts in Colour in 1949 after which he set himself the goal of illustrating the entire genus, combining with text by botanists George Chippendale and Robert Johnston to produce two volumes (1969, 1978) called Eucalypts containing 535 species and subspecies.
1960-1970 – a new era of professional illustrators
By the 1970s botanical illustration had once again become a desirable occupation as, now in more propitious times, botanic gardens could afford a limited numbers of positions. Ludwick Dutkiewicz (who ventured into painting, sculpture, theatre and film) was the first herbarium artist, employed in the South Australian Herbarium from 1953 to 1983 followed by Christine Payne in Sydney, Margaret Saul in Brisbane and Anita Barley in Melbourne.
Botanical art now has a strong following of both active world-class participants and enthusiastic students supported by botanical art societies and regular exhibitions in most states.
In 1973 Celia Rosser at Monash University, Melbourne, began her project to paint life-size portraits of all the species of Banksia
NOTE: Tasmanian landowner William Archer was not only a collector in the 1840s and 50s but assisted J Hooker with Flora Tasmaniae with funds and as a botanical artist.
NOTE: Clarke, I. The role of the botanical artist. AGH 7(6): 4-5.
Harvey’s Phycologia Australica.
NOTE:Check the history of Dumont de Courset and where he obtained his seed from Australia.
NOTE: The Eternal Order in Nature: The Science of Botanical Illustration presented by the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne will be timed to coincide with the XVIII International Botanical Congress at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in July 2011. The International Botanical Congress is held every six years with the last conference in Vienna in 2005. What is significant about this event is that up to 4,000 scientists from around the world get together to discuss nomenclature – the naming of plants, as well as all fields of botanical science, including research on plants, algae and fungi.
It is with Colac artist Margaret (Elsie) Stones (1920- ) that a new era of professional botanical art was ushered in. Trained in commercial artat Swinburne Technical College and the National Gallery Art School Stones took up illustrating plants from the Grampians when she was forced into convalescence with tuberculosis. Her talent was soon acknowledged as she was invited to join botanical collecting trips and encouraged to exhibit her work. In 1951 she moved to London working at Kew and also exhibiting her work. She was rewarded in 1958 with a position as senior artist working for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine completing more than 400 plant portraits between 1958 and 1983. Meanwhile she was working on commissions for, among others, the Royal Horticultural Society, London but is perhaps best known for The Endemic Flora of Tasmania which she completed with Tasmanian botanist Winifred Curtis between 1967 and 1978. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art gallery in Launceston has a collection of 254 of her drawings of endemic Tasmanian plants. The high standard of her work was acknowledged when she was awarded honorary Doctorates of Science from Louisiana State University in 1986, and the University of Melbourne in 1989.[Gillbank, L. OCAG p.572]
At last more propitious times were releasing money and there was no shortage of talent now.
School teacher Betty Conabere ()had no formal training but her work was clearly of a very high standard. She provided 50 illustrations for Victoria’s Alpine Flora, the money for this projectprovided by the Maud Gibson Trust. Then, in 1968, work for the Wildflowers of South Eastern Australia, the descriptions provided by J. Ros Garnett .
Melbourne-born Celia Rosser (1930- ) had formal training at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and was inspired to paint the flora of East Gippsland where she lived. She was supported by the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Maud Gibson Trust which, in the late 1960s, sponsored her first drawings of plants in the genus Banksia. In 1970 she was appointed Illustrator for the Science Faculty at Monash University and began work on the pencil illustrations of The Mosses of Southern Australia (1976). She is best known for her work dedicated to the completion of paintings for all species in the genus Banksia, a project that she began in 1974 collaborating with botanist Alex George and published as The Banksias between 1981 and 2000. Her immaculate and fine-detail work incorporates all the most demanding aspects of botanical art including many preliminary sketches while working in the field, all under the critical eye of a professional botanist. She has been commissioned for postage stamps and exhibitions receiving an award from the Linnean Society of London in 1996 and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Monash University in 2000.[Hewson, H. OCAG p.518]
Sydney artist Paul Jones, trained at the Julian Ashton School and has worked alongside modernist still life painter Adrian Feist. He has two major works commissioned by the Tryon Gallery in London with text by Wilfrid Blunt, Flora Superba () and Flora Magnifica (1976).
Recent times have seen a resurgence in interest in botanical art as eager pupils line up to learn from present-day masters. There is the Margaret Flockton and Celia Rosser medals to be won and exhibitions that draw informed and appreciative crowds who, perhaps weary of the challenges ofabstract art in its various forms, are only too pleased to look at art whose executants craftsmanship is evident to all as just as the beauty of their and subject matter beyond question.
Among the contemporary masters are Jenny Phillips() … Anita Barley joined the National Herbarium of Victoria as Botanical Illustrator in 1977 remaining until 1992. She was the first botanicalartist to be employed inVictoria and the first in Australia after Margaret Flockton. It was a new era as she wasfollowed by Mali Moir who was awarded the RHS prize and also by her ‘student’ Dianne Emery.
In Tasmania Lauren Black has worked with boyanist Patrick Dalton on the mosses of the island and Jean Dennis, like Celia Rosser and Stan Kelly before, has set herself the task of completing a genus, this time Brachychiton, which has so far occupied her for 15 years.
Sydney-based Elizabeth Cooper produces the most exquisitely shades drawings of plants in graphite pencil.
The eagerness and flow of vegetation that began in the English 18th century and dubbed gardenomania and botanomania spread from Britain to the Neo-Europes – India, Australia, America, New Zealand and has raised the prospect of a homogenisation of world vegetation.
September 20, 2008
HIDDEN in rugged ranges in north-west Arnhem Land, a spectacular treasure-trove of Aboriginal rock art is set to rewrite the history of Australia.
In a find that has stunned archaeologists and anthropologists, a vast wall of about 1500 paintings chronicles the history of Aboriginal contact with outsiders, from Macassan proas and European sailing ships to 19th-century steamships and a World War II battleship.
Alongside exquisite rock art more than 15,000 years old are paintings that capture some of the 19th and 20th centuries’ most important technological innovations – a biplane, bicycle, car and rifle – as well as portraits of church ministers, sea captains and traders.
This indigenous version of a history book rivals anything similar in the world and holds the key to Australia’s ancient and modern history, according to scientists who have just returned from an expedition to the Djulirri rock shelter in the Wellington Range. The Griffith University archaeologist Professor Paul Tacon, one of five scientists who travelled to Djulirri, said it was of international significance, unprecedented in artistic and technical merit and telling a new story of contact between Aboriginal people and the world.
Contrary to the popular view that indigenous Australians were isolated on their island continent, waves of other seafaring visitors arrived long before British settlement. For hundreds of years there may have been an export economy in northern Australia driven by the Chinese appetite for trepang, or sea cucumber.
While it has long been known that Macassans traded with Aboriginal people, the accepted date for this was in the early 18th century. The team of scientists believes it may have begun centuries earlier.
“This rock art dismantles the popular identity of Australia being a nation first visited by the British,” said Dr Alistair Paterson, of the University of Western Australia, also on the expedition. “It goes against the idea of the Bicentennial and convicts.”
The first rock art expert known to have seen the shelter was George Chaloupka in the 1970s. But the exact location was lost until a doctoral student at the Australian National University, Daryl Guse, relocated it by working with a local Aboriginal elder, Ronald Lamilami.
Apart from conducting the first full recording of the Djulirri art, the team of researchers discovered thousands of other rock paintings previously unknown to science.
Their trip was the first part of a three-year national program to uncover the archaeology of first contact with Aboriginal people around Australia. But the researchers fear that, without urgent government support, the Arnhem Land sites could be severely damaged. Tourism is rapidly expanding in the Wellington Range, says a Griffith University archaeologist, Dr Sally May, and one of the most important rock art sites, known as Malarrak, is being severely degraded by visitors.
Mining companies are also sweeping into the area. The range is a prime site for uranium and other exploration. Mr Lamilami wants an indigenous ranger program established to ensure the sites are properly managed.
The people living along the northern coastline -the Kimberley, Arnhem Land, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York – have had encounters with various visitors for many thousands of years. People and traded goods moved freely between Australia and New Guinea up to and even after the eventual flooding of the land bridge by rising sea levels, which was completed about 6000 years ago.
However, trade and intercourse between the now-separated lands continued across the newly-formed Torres Strait, whose 150 km-wide channel remained readily navigable with the chain of Torres Strait Islands and reefs affording intermediary stopping points. The islands were settled by different seafaring Melanesian cultures such as the Torres Strait Islanders over 2500 years ago, and cultural interactions continued via this route with the Aboriginal people of northeast Australia.
Indonesian “Bajau” fishermen from the Spice Islands (e.g. Banda) have fished off the coast of Australia for hundreds of years. Some historians believe that Tamil sea-farers might have had knowledge of Australia and Polynesia much before European contact.
Artist-explorer Thomas Baines (1820-1875) of Kings Lynn, Norfolk in England, worked with the Augustus Gregory expedition (1855-1857) inNorth Australia providing a visual record of the region in the decade after Leichardt’s epic trek from Moreton Bay to Port Essington,one of the more epic jaunts of imperial exploration in this period. Carruthers, J. & Stiebel,L. (eds) 2012. Thomas Baines: Exploring Tropical Australia 1855 to 1857. National Museum of Australia: Canberra.
Norst, M.J. 1989. Ferdinand Bauer. The Australian Natural History Drawings. Lothian: Melbourne.
Just as early work on native plants was by Europeans so too was botanical illustration. and the many illustrations in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine illustrated by ?Sydenham Edwards who was to establish and illustrate his own magazine the Botanical Register edited by John Lindley eminent botanist, Professor of Botany at the University of London and librarian to Banks with many Australian plants illustrated by Sarah Drake.
Brown was meticulous in his instructions to botanical illustrators Sowerby, Curtis and the Bauers as they prepared his plates.