Contemporary Illustrations Collection

This collection consists of works created in the 20th century to date. It continues to grow through acquisitions, commissioned works and donations and includes works by students on the Garden's botanical art programmes

The collection of contemporary botanical art includes works by the following artists:

  • Claire Banks
    Winner of the Jill Smythies Award from the Linnean Society of London in 2015

    • a collection of 24 pen and ink drawings of Podocarpus spp. drawn between December 2013 and March 2014

    Eve Reid Bennett (1936-2006)

    Eve taught botanical illustration for many years at RBGE, and left the Garden many examples of her work, especially of the genera Rhododendron and Tacca (see sample illustration on this page)

    Mary Benstead

    • see Drawings of plants from the woods and forests of Chile

    Sharon Bradley

    • Rhododendron kesangiae var. Kesangiae (subsection Grandia), Clark & Sinclair1 662 19902777C, pencil and watercolour, ca. 2008. Original work for the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration

    William Brown (1888-1975)

    • A collection of 309 watercolour illustrations of fungi from Edinburgh and Aberdeen, 1914-1918

    Stephen Caine

    • Collection of 10 carbon pencil drawings of fossil plants inspird by the fossil plant collection at the National Museum of Scotland and the Spitsbergen fossil tertiary flora illustrated by Carl Hedlin (1861-1894) for the Swedish Museum of Natural History
    Watercolour illustration of Vireya Rhododendron by Eve Bennett
  • Drawings of plants from the woods and forests of Chile

    • A collection of 81 original works by Mary Benstead, Gülnur Ekşi, Işık Guner and Hülya Korkmaz for the work Plants from the woods and forests of Chile published by the RBGE in 2015 (see sample illustration on this page)

    Gülnur Ekşi

    • see Drawings of plants from the woods and forests of Chile

    Toby Gough

    • Ulmus glabra, watercolour, 2007

    Caroline Greevers

    • Spring Flowers (Complex composition for the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration, 2009)

    Işık Guner

    • see Drawings of plants from the woods and forests of Chile
    • Coelogyne lawrenceana, watercolour, 2016, featuring a specimen collected from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, Yunnan Province as part of the endangered orchids from China project
    • Watercolour plant portraits including a sunflower, horse chestnut and thistle, 2010

    Bessie Darling Inglis (1902-1999)

    Inglis illustrated a number of books published by Nelsons and also did work for the National Trust for Scotland

    • Original artwork (71 items of 84 done) for a work on ‘Plants of the Bible’ planned by Thomas Nelson & Sons, Edinburgh, with text by Harold R. Fletcher (1907-1978), RBGE Regius Keeper (1956-1970)
    Watercolour illustration of Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle) by Isik Guner
  • Geoffrey Kibby

    • A collection of 25 watercolour paintings of British fungi, 1969-1973

    Hülya Korkmaz

    • see Drawings of plants from the woods and forests of Chile

    Deborah Lambkin (1970- )

    • Rhododendron himantodes, watercolour [1996]; Presented to the RBGE by Glasnevin Botanic Garden in 1997

    Prof. David Mann (1953- )

    Senior research scientist at RBGE since 1990. In addition to his scientific research David has produced a range of art inspired by his work on algae including the Phycographia series of prints that explore novel imagery based on microscopic material

    • 16 mezzotints from the Phycographia series of prints (see sample illustration on this page)

    Jillian McDougall (1940- )

    • Knee roots in a tropical rain forest. Watercolour, 805 x 1120mm (framed, on display in the Library)
    • Dendrobium aurantiroseum. Print of a watercolour of a New Guinea orchid painted in 1983 at RBGE. The original work is held by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London
    • Dendrobium cuthbertsonii. Print of a watercolour of an orchid painted in 1982 at RBGE
    • Dendrobium hellwigianum. Print of a watercolour of an orchid painted in 1982 at RBGE
    • Dendrobium vexillarius. Print of a watercolour of an orchid painted in 1982 at RBGE

    Gillian A. Meadows

    Mary Mendum [née Bates] (1945-2004)

    A member of the RBGE staff, though not employed as an artist, Mary made many b/w drawings and watercolours to illustrate books and research papers by colleagues, including many rhododendrons and plates for the Flora of Bhutan.

    Mezzotint from the Phycographia series by David Mann
  • Christina Oliver, Louise Olley, Jacqui Pestell, M.B.E. & Sharon Tingey

    • Thangka painting featuring endemic, medicinal, useful and invasive plants from Nepal, 2016. Inspired by the stylised plants portrayed in traditional Tibetan thangka (also known as tangka, thanka and tanka) paintings still made by artisans in Kathmandu during a visit to Nepal in March 2015, Jacqui and Sharon worked with the RBGE Flora of Nepal team to create this work for the Flora of Nepal exhibition that ran in the John Hope Gateway from the 6th August to the 6th November 2016. The work incorporated drawings of individual plants by Claire Banks, Lyn Campbell, Işık Güner and Sarah Roberts as well as those by Nepalese artist Neera Joshi Pradhan (see section of the work illustrated on this page)

    Jacqui Pestell, M.B.E.

    • Watercolour illustration of Rosa 'Grace'

    Rodella Anne Purves (1945-2008)

    Although at one time employed in the Garden's Education department, Rodella's career as a major botanical artist largely took place after she left, although the collection also includes several examples of her later work

    Wei Qicong (1956 - )

    Wei Qicong was born in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China in December, 1956. Having graduated from Yunnan Simao Normal College in 1980, he went on to study at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1990.

    • Village stockade, 1987, woodcut, limited edition print (number 14 of 20) (framed)

    Janne Richardson

    • Helleborus x hybridus, Fritillaria meleagris and Scilla siberica (Complex composition for 1st year RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration)
    Section of Thangka watercolour by Christina Oliver Louise Olley Jacqui Pestell & Sharon Tingey
  • Pamela Richardson

    • Original work for the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration, 2010

    Abigail Rorer (1949 - )

    • 2 prints of Reginald Farrer based on images in the RBGE Archive. These relief engraved portraits were for two fine press books published by Rorer’s press, The Lone Oak Press, Petersham, Massachusetts, USA.

    Stella Ross-Craig (1906-2006)

    • 9 illustrations (8 watercolour, 1 pen and ink) of Prunus serrula, Vanilla moonii, Buddleja tibetica, Buddleja farreri and Bromus hordaceus

    Lizzie Sanders

    • Begonia samhaensis, watercolour, 2000

    Rosemary Margaret Smith (1933-2004)

    For her entire career Rosemary was a member of the RBGE staff and worked primarily on the family Zingiberaceae.

    • Collections of drawings published in the Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Journal of Botany
    • Illustrations for a ‘Plant of the Week’ column published in the Scotsman newspaper between 1963 and 1979 with text by Alf Evans

    Rupert Smith (1857-1942)

    • A large collection of watercolour illustrations of British fungi, early 20th century

    Lilian Snelling (1879-1972)

    Perhaps the RBGE’s most important collection of botanical drawings, of primulas and rhododendrons, made in the Garden, commissioned between 1916 and 1921 by Isaac Bayley Balfour (see sample illustration on this page)

    Illustration of a Rhododendron by Lillian Snelling
  • E. Margaret Stones (1920 - 2018)

    • collection of watercolours with a particular focus on Himalayan plants painted between 1952 and 1970 at Ascreavie, the Angus house and garden of George and Betty Sherriff. The collection was bequeathed to the RBGE by Betty Sherriff.

    Susanna Stuart-Smith

    • Black and white drawings for the Orchids of Bhutan several original watercolours for the Plants of Dhofar.

    Sharon Tingey

    • Complex composition for the RBGE Diploma in Botanical Illustration, 2009

    Maureen Chisam Warwick
    a former member of RBGE staff who made numerous b/w drawings for colleagues

    • Illustrations for the Trees of Central Kalimantan

    Jane [Jean Troup] Wisely (1905-1999)

    A member of the Botanical Society of Scotland, Jane was born Jeannie Troup Wisely in Aberdeen on the 18th April 1905. Having graduated M.A. with honours from the University of Aberdeen in 1927, she went on to further study with the University of Oxford, where she graduated B.A. in 1930. A career in teaching and teacher training followed.

    • a collection of watercolour paintings donated to the Library by the Botanical Society of Scotland in 1994 (see sample illustration on this page)
    Illustration of Rubus chamaemorus by Jane Wisely
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