Botanical Art into the Third Millennium
Pisa, Museo della Grafica - Palazzo Lanfranchi
April 20 – July 15, 2013

The exhibition presents a splendid selection of works by some of the most brilliant contemporary artists.

At the dawn of the third millennium, botanical painting constitutes a realm of expression of astonishing variety and vitality. In a tradition that has continued without interruption since the Renaissance, when artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer inaugurated a new vision and a new manner of interpreting the natural world, down through the centuries with the work of such great European artists as Jacopo Ligozzi, Maria Sibylla Merian, Nicolas Robert and Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the universe of Flora has provided art with some of its most enduring and fascinating motifs.

The visual representation of a plant, a leaf, or a flower petal, in which the aesthetic quality of the gesture merges with an adherence to scientific and naturalistic fact, remains even today the preferred vehicle for the scientist wishing to create a permanent record of his studies. The artist is able to capture the unique morphological and systematic characteristics of a plant with a concision and immediacy that cannot be matched by any mechanical or digital technology.

As is amply testified to by the collections of great international scientific institutions (The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; The Royal Horticultural Society, London; The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx; and the Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro) and prestigious private collections (the Shirley Sherwood Collection, London, UK; the Oak Spring Garden Library of Rachel Lambert Mellon, Upperville, Virginia, USA; and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA), graphic or pictorial exercises in the portrayal of nature spring from and have perennially drawn strength from their close dialogue with science, leading to truly stunning results in terms of stylistic range and expressive quality.

The aim of Botanical Art into the Third Millennium is to provide an overview of the latest and most original work being produced in this genre, in a geographic dimension without limits and reflecting the unique diversity and specificity of local environments.

The exhibition begins with the work of three great botanical artists from the last century – Margaret Stones, Rory McEwen and Margaret Mee – who in the middle of the twentieth century found striking new ways in terms of artistic sensibility and scientific description to express the modernity of botanical painting.

This is followed by a selection of more than one hundred and fifty works by artists from around the world. Visitors will be able to admire the surprising variety and richness of language and techniques, and the extraordinary descriptive and interpretative compass of a range of artists who have sought to portray the beauties of nature in all its complexity, while also at times confronting issues of plant physiology and taxonomy, biodiversity, and the environment. All visitors, be they specialists, gardeners or flower lovers, will have the opportunity to admire works from the most important collection of botanical art in the world – the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art – alongside a fascinating selection of paintings by Brazilian artists and a broad panorama of works by Italian artists.

From thoughtful meditations on the art of past masters to audacious experiments with the most recent techniques and materials, this exhibition brings together works ranging from tempera, watercolor and oil paintings to photographs, collages, videos and visual installations, in an evocative and emotionally moving journey through a splendid virtual garden of art and science.

Arte botanica nel terzo Millennio – Botanical Art into the Third Millennium
20 Aprile – 15 Luglio, 2013
April 20 – July 15, 2013
Museo della Grafica - Palazzo Lanfranchi
Lungarno Galilei, 9 – I56127 Pisa (PI)
Tel. (+39) 050 2216 060, fax (+39) 050 2216 065


An excellent catalog with text in English is available from Edizioni ETS
For ordering instructions in English: CLICK HERE





  • Zingiber officinale Ginger Oil on paper 9.5" h x 11" w 2009 Ingrid Finnan Collection of Shirley Sherwood