Margaret Mee: Explorer/Conservationist, Botanist/Scientific Illustrator

Bromelia anticantha Bertol. Cultivated in São Paulo. Procured from Minas Gerais. Margaret Mee, 1964. Permission for reproduction received from Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Rare Book Collection, Washington, D.C., Online Exhibits, Highlights from the Collections, Margaret Mee, The Paintings.

Margaret Mee, née Brown (1909-1988), was a British contemporary artist considered to be one of the most remarkable women of the twentieth century.1 She was referred to as the premier female explorer of the Brazilian rainforest and an outstanding botanical artist. Her voice was one of the first courageous ones to be raised against the exploitative destruction of Amazonia and she spoke for its conservation until her death.

Wang Hao-t’ing: Illustrator for the Central Asiatic Natural History Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History

Wang Hao-t’ing (using the Chinese naming order with family name first) was a Chinese artist who was commissioned to accompany the American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) Third Asiatic Expedition in 1921-1926 to document frogs, snakes, salamanders, and lizards in the region. Hao-t’ing painted beautiful, strikingly realistic watercolor paintings of Continue Reading

Matthew Henson: Explorer, Scientist

Featured Image: Matthew Henson in Greenland in 1901.    “My thoughts were on the going and getting forward, and on nothing else.” -Matthew Henson, explorer, scientist1, 2, 3, 4 A member of the first expedition to reach the North Pole, Matthew Alexander Henson was an experienced member of several polar Continue Reading

John Tyley: Caribbean Botanical Illustrator in a Colonial World

John Tyley, watercolor on paper of [Fruit], ca. 1802 John Tyley worked as a botanical illustrator at the historic St. Vincent Botanical Garden in the late 1700s creating exquisite depictions of tropical plants.¹ Aside from the beautiful and detailed illustrations he left behind, little is known of this native Caribbean Continue Reading

Maria Sibylla Merian: Botanical Illustrator, Entomologist, and Explorer Ahead of Her Time

Illustration of a Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) and a False Coral Snake (Anilius scytale) (1701–1705) by Maria Sibylla Merian, watercolor and gloss over etching on parchment   “Ever since my youth I have been engaged in the examination of insects. …I set aside my social life and devoted all my Continue Reading