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Unappreciated Botanical Art

Botanical art was largely unappreciated during the 20th century. However, places like Kew Gardens in London employed botanical artists to document research.

a picture of the greenhouse at Kew Gardens in London, England.

Photo: 1967geezer

Kew Gardens in London, England employed botanical artists throughout the 20th century to document botanical research and to provide images for Kew Magazine.

During the first half of the 20th Century there was not much interest in botanical art. In fact, it was hardly considered a legitimate art form. As a period of history that experienced the rise in popularity of what was called ‘modern art’, realistic representations of plants, or any subject, was not in vogue. Furthermore, photography became the medium that produced what was considered the most authentic way to represent the natural world.

Kew Gardens

In very few places were there opportunities for botanical illustrators to work. Kew Gardens was one of the few places that employed botanical artists.  Botanical artists worked as illustrators to document botanical research and produce images for the Kew Magazine. Lillian Snelling was the magazine’s leading artist for 30 years until 1952. Another Kew Magazine illustrator was Margaret Mee, who later moved to Brazil and painted plants and flowers of the Amazon.

Anne Ophelia Todd

In America, the botanical artist Anne Ophelia Todd first painted flowers in Colorado. She then lived for fifty years on the east coast where she taught, illustrated and designed textiles. She retired to Colorado where she died at the age of 99. Anne Ophelia Todd led a long and productive life, leaving a large number of botanical illustrations and beautiful paintings of flowers. Her work was not valued as much during her lifetime as it is today.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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