Friday, February 25, 2011

Natural History Museum - new "Images of Nature" Gallery

Here are some more images from the Images of Nature exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

It's not a large exhibition.  Rather the importance is in the fact that is a new permanent gallery for works which are images rather than specimens.

Group of Fishes - including the pinecone fish (1829-1831)
The gallery contains a mix of:
  • historical images from the permanent collection
  • images produced by contemporary artists
  • modern images created by scientists, imaging specialists, photographers and micro-CT scanners.
In fact it made me think that those who produce wildlife art might want to get in touch to find out how to get their artwork acquired by the museum.  I guess you could always try a gift!

There are also interactive kiosks which allow you to access the Museum's permanent collection as well as to look in more detail at aspects

While sketching the Dodo, I listened to an explanation about how a modern copy was made of the original painting of the Dodo in the Museum's collection and what were the problems with the original painting - which was not made from life.

Dodo - attributed to Roelandt Savery (1576-1639)
oil on canvas c.1626
The above image is the most famous image of the Dodo and is attributed to the Flemish artits Roelandt Savery.  The first superintendant of the Natural History Museum used this painting and the few fossil bones which had been found to work out the skeleton of the dodo.

The John Reeeves Collection

Reeves Pheasant - part of the John Reeves Collection, Natural History Museum
and the Images of Nature Exhibition
The gallery includes a temporary display of works that changes annually. This year's theme is Chinese watercolours featuring botanical and zoological watercolours from the collection of 19th-century amateur naturalist, John Reeves. 

John Reeves as a tea inspector for the East India Company who was sent to work in China in 1812.   He was also a keen amateur naturalist.

During the nineteenth century, The East India Company was renowned for developing natural history records of the places where they operated.  John Reeves appears to have followed suit and commission hundreds of scientific drawings from local artists.   These were then sent to Britain.

Palm Cockatoo - part of the John Reeves Collection, Natural History Museumand the Images of Nature Exhibition

The John Reeves Collection depicts the natural history of China and is now housed in the Natural History Museum.  The images are not only important for their beauty, they also have scientific importance and enable us to understand the state of natural history of China at that time.
The John Reeves collection is one of the most important in the Museum Library. It contains more than 2,000 scientifically important and exquisitely beautiful botanical and zoological paintings commissioned and collected by Reeves while he was working in China from 1812-1831.
Artists who worked for the East India Company produced detailed and descriptive paintings by the early 1800s.  However they tended to work in a very different style to European artists who focused on natural history and botanical art.  For example, they typically did not follow the Linnean style of botanical art. 

For those interested in this unique collection of botanical, zoological and entomological drawingsthere are various links on the Museum's website which allows you to find out more about how they came about and their importance
Chinese Art and the Reeves Collection by Judith Magee has been published to tie in with the Images of Nature Exhibition and the display of the John Reeves Collection at the Museum.

You can see my sketches from the Natural History Museum over on my Travels with a Sketchbook Blog (which is featured today in The Times !!!) by following these links


  1. What a lovely Images of Nature. The colours are soft but strong and the animals fascinate the viewer.

  2. Fantastic images - just love these paintings!

  3. What a wonderful outing that must have been. All those beautiful paintings, one would never want to leave.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AGAIN because of too much spam.
My blog posts are always posted to my Making A Mark Facebook Page and you can comment there if you wish.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.