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Art and Science. The Art of Natural History Illustration 


Tutors: Henrietta McBurney and Roger Gaskell 


The place of natural history illustration is often overlooked in traditional histories of art and visual culture. But images of the natural world created by such renowned artists as Dürer and Leonardo and lesser-known figures such as HoefnagelLigozzi and Ehret, hold an important place in the intersection of art and science. This course offers new perspectives on the ways in which nature has been viewed, drawn, and illustrated in books from the early Renaissance to modern times and examines the making and function of such images. Teaching, combining lectures and object sessions, will be based on selected artists, their works and associated books from each of six main topics. 




Day 1The meaning of Ad Vivum 

  • Response of Renaissance artists to nature, including Durer and Leonardo  

  • John White, Jacques le Moyne de Morgues 

  • Object session: Woodcut illustration and book production. De BryClusiusBrunfelsMattioliFuchs  


Day 2Cabinets of Curiosity, Paper Museums and Florilegia  

  • Hoefnagel, BreughelRabel, Robert, Alexander Marshal 

  • LigozziGarzoniAldrovandi and Cassiano dal Pozzo paper museums   

  • Object session: Intaglio book illustration. De Passe, Besler, SebaPerraultOlina & Ferrari 


Day 3Gardens and the Age of Discovery 

  • Merian, Catesby, Ehret, Bartram, Delaney  

  • Object session: Switzer, Kip, FaldaGiardini di Roma, Plumier, Miller, Catalogus plantarumLinnaeus/Ehret, Hortus CliffortianusDilleniusHortus ElthamensisCatesby, Hortus Britanno-Americanus 


Day 4Part 1: Romanticism 

  • Audubon, Thornton, Marianne North 

     Part 2: East and West 

  • East India Company and Indian, Chinese and Japanese paintings 

  • Object sessionIndia and China Drawings Collection at NHM; ReedeHortus MalbaricusRoxburgh, Plants of the Coast of CorromandelRussell, An Account of Indian Serpents 


Day 5: Victorian to modern  

  • Ruskin, Lear, the Goulds  

  • Victorian ladies’ albums 

  • Margaret Mee, Margaret StonesElizabeth ButterworthRebecca Jewell, Rory McEwen, Jenny Brasier  

  • Object sessionLithography, wood-engraving and photomechanical reproduction. Bateman, The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala, Hooker, Victoria Regia 


Preliminary reading 

  • Bailey, K., 2019, John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical ArtSuffolk (Acc Art Books) 
  • Blunt, W., and Stearn, W. T., 1994, The Art of Botanical Illustration, new & enlarged edn Woodbridge (Antique Collector’s Club Ltd)   
  • Egmond, F., 2017, An Eye for Detail: Images of Plants and Animals in Science, 1500–1630, London (Reaktion Books) 
  • Dalrymple, W., 2019, Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company, London (exh. cat., Wallace Collection) 
  • Griffiths, A., 2016, The Print before Photograph: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820, London (British Museum Press) 
  • Kusukawa, S., 2012, Picturing the Book of Nature: Image, Text, and Argument in Sixteenth-Century Human Anatomy and Medical Botany, Chicago (University of Chicago Press) 
  • Landau, D., and Parshall, P., 1996, The Renaissance Print, 1470-1550, London and New Haven (Yale University Press) 
  • McBurney, H., 2021, Illuminating Natural History. The Art and Science of Mark Catesby, London (Paul Mellon Centre/Yale) 
  • Stearn, W. T., 1990, Flower Artists of Kew, London (Herbert Press)