Delighting in the magnificence of the flora and fauna of our subcontinent, our motifs pay homage to the allure and charm of their inherent characteristics.
One of the most famous botanical painters of all time, Pierre-Joseph Redouté loved flowers. Fascinated, especially by lily and rose blooms, he was renowned for his unique prowess to portray light and shadow, undulating colour and clarity of form. Redouté went on to tutor the likes of Marie Antoinette, receiving the title “Draughtsman and Painter to the Queen’s Cabinet.” Over his lifetime, he painted 1800 species, some of which had never been recorded before.
Lillian Snelling is widely considered as one of the greatest botanical artists of the early 19th century. As principal lithographer of Curtis’ Botanical Magazine, published by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, she painted “with remarkable delicacy of accurate outlines, brilliancy of colour and intricate gradation of tone” over 800 paintings and lithographic plates, over her 30-year career.
16th century Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi’s charming and delightful illustrations like this sunflower, give us insight into the colourful life he led as an influential botanist of the time. In the small town of Bologna in 1587, he founded a botanical garden in the only space he was given: a tiny courtyard. It eventually blossomed into one with over 5000 endemic and exotic species of flowers and plants. If his illustrations are anything to go by, we can only imagine how beautiful his garden was.
Botanical artist Marian Ellis Rowan “enjoyed the accident of life, the fusion of one aspect of nature with another”. Unbridled with the scientific limitations of botanical drawings, she spent her life traveling to unexplored territories across the world, painting wildflowers, insects, birds and butterflies. A true testament of Rowan’s determination lies in her documention of almost every species of wildflower across her homeland of Australia.
Meet royal lithographer Étienne Denisse, whose career would take him from the botanical gardens of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris to the French West Indies Islands. Denisse’s work of collecting and hand-painting wild species from the Caribbean Islands in almost 200 lithographic plates enraptured the New World with America’s exotic and undiscovered flora.
(📷 Biodiversity Heritage Library)
Contemporary botanical painter Anna Masonart's dexterity with intricacy and realism is clear to see: Her line work is masterful, her colours are beautifully intense, and her compositions beckon the viewer to stay awhile. A penchant for gardening during her childhood and a love for painting inspired her to pick up watercolours in adulthood, and we are spellbound.
(📷 Anna Mason)
Meet Ustad Mansur, the most celebrated nature painter from Mughal Emperor Jehangir’s court, — a talented botanical illustrator suited to scientific documentation, and a modest artist who never signed his paintings. In the pages of Jehangir’s memoirs, Mansur is said to have painted over 100 flowers on a single trip to the Kashmir Valley.
Arundathi Varthak’s botanical illustrations draw from a depth of sources, including miniature paintings and Sanskrit classics from Kalidasa. Her tree-portraits are simple, graphic documentations of India’s most common trees with birds, insects and animals, however her morphological notes support the illustrations in subtle ways. Depicted in a flat style on gouache, her lines come to life with fine fluency and vibrant colour.