Botanical Illustrations created by Women

Botanical Illustrations created by Women

Gardens, flora and fauna have long been a source of inspiration to stitchers. Floral themes run through out the history of textiles and embroidery. Many of the early embroidery designs were adapted from early herbals. Stitchers still delight in floral themes today.

In 2001 an exhibition that explored the relationship of women and natural studies was held in Department of Special Collections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The site housing associated images is still online.

Themes include nature writing, scientific illustration, and women’s careers and training in the natural sciences. Sections that I think readers will find interesting are Elizabeth Blackwell, the daughter of an Aberdeen merchant, who eloped to London and soon found herself with a husband in prison for debt. Blackwell produced books on plants based on flowers and plants she viewed in Chelsea botanical gardens.

The other section I think readers will enjoy is the section on Illustrators as the botanical drawing is delightful.

The Illustrations of these books housed in the exhibit are well worth browsing as they form an online source for design inspiration that should not be missed by designers or anyone interested in the influences of print on textile design. The site houses larger images so you can take a really good look at the work.

So make a cuppa, settle back and enjoy!


  1. Very inpressive. I love this style of pictures.
    I’m also popping in to let you know that you’ve been tagged for the You Make My Day Award.

    I really enjoy your blog and your work.

  2. This is exquisite ! It is also a theme that is widely and delightfully used in jewellery.

    It’s a coincidence but I’ve decided to work on a potato plant for January’s TIF (not the admiration theme though lol)

  3. Sharon for those that are interested Maria Sibella Merian’s “Erucarum Ortus” is re-published by Dover Press, (the illustrations). They have a book of all the illustrations or you could purchase a CD. These can be found at Amazon Books.

  4. Wow, Sharon. What a great resource this site is !! I love how some of the work is attributed to “Mrs So and So”, no christian name, or just “A Lady”. We’ve certainly come a long way since the times when it was not quite proper for a female to engage in any activity that wasn’t related to child bearing or household management, haven’t we? All of those illustrations are stunning, the details in the floral drawings are superb, thanks so much for sharing. Off now to tackle a class sample for Wednesday so I can take yet another look at TIF.

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