Home / Art / 300-Year-Old Botanical Illustrations and the Art They Inspire Today

300-Year-Old Botanical Illustrations and the Art They Inspire Today

Contemporary Botanical Artists

While traditional illustrations of the past were usually rendered with paint on paper, today’s contemporary botanical art comes in a variety of styles and mediums.


Tiffany Bozic


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Self-taught artist Tiffany Bozic’s incredible illustrations are inspired by her “travels to wild places” and her exposure to various research specimens at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Rendered with watered-down layers of acrylic paint on panels of maple wood, each anatomically correct plant, flower, animal, and insect is painted with precise detail—just like vintage botanical illustrations in old science books. However, Bozic often adds her own surreal twist, depicting her earthly subjects as if they’re from another reality.

Kate Kato


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Artist Kate Kato crafts detailed paper sculptures based on various mushrooms, flowers, and insects found within the Welsh valley of her hometown. Influenced by her childhood fascination with botanical illustrations, Kato creates each work to accurately reflect the natural ephemera’s true forms. Each work is made from recycled paper that the artist tints with natural dyes.

“I have always been fascinated by the natural world; a love instilled in me at a young age, and documenting what I discover has become my main motivation for creating my work,” Kato reveals in an artist statement. “As a child I spent a lot of time collecting bits and pieces in tins or boxes which I would take with me on walks through parks or countryside. This has had a huge influence on my work along with my love of botanical illustrations, the natural sciences and the nostalgia of museum visits where, as a child, I would be mesmerized by the variety of exhibits and the way they were displayed. I tend to view my work as a 3D record of my knowledge and experiences of the natural world.”

Zadok Ben-David

London-based artist Zadok Ben-David created an incredible, touring floor installation made up of up to 27,000 hand-painted steel etched flowers based on drawings from 19th Century Victorian encyclopedias. Titled Blackfield, the sprawling array of plant life appeared as black on one side, but when stood from the other side, a vibrant field of color was revealed. The project explored perception and perspective, and as well as life and death.


Rogan Brown


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Just like the work of 19th century biologist Ernst Haeckel, Rogan Brown’s work explores the intricate forms found in microorganisms. The Anglo-Irish artist’s series, Magic Circle, comprises hand- and laser-cut paper sculptures that capture the texture and patterns found in coral, bacteria, and microbes. Each elaborate bio-sculpture requires hours of precise cutting and layering of paper, resulting in a fascinating labyrinth of hypnotic white shapes. Although influenced by scientific drawings, Brown chooses to play with the imagination, creating his own versions of each natural form.

“I am inspired in part by the tradition of scientific drawing and model making, and particularly the work of artist-scientists such as Ernst Haeckel,” Brown says. “But although my approach involves careful observation and detailed ‘scientific’ preparatory drawings, these are always superseded by the work of the imagination; everything has to be refracted through the prism of the imagination, estranged and in some way transformed.”

Laura Hart

British glass artist Laura Hart explores the exotic beauty of orchids with her incredibly realistic botanical sculptures. Each perfectly crafted form depicts the flower’s delicate petals, near-perfect symmetry, and vibrant colors and patterns. “My fascination with orchids spans decades and at one point I had nearly seventy in my conservatory,” Hart reveals. “The explosion of color and perfume during the flowering months intoxicate the senses.”

Each piece is scaled up to around 30cm, but still features true-to-form shapes and colors based around the different 28,000 known species of orchid. Hart says, “I endeavor to recreate these incredible flowers as faithfully and authentically as possible, whilst imbuing them with my own artistic interpretation.”


Related Articles:

19th Century Biologist’s Illustrations of Microbes Bring Art and Science Together

Incredibly Detailed Paper Sculptures Resemble Natural Microorganisms

Biodiversity Heritage Library Puts 2 Million Botanical Illustrations Online for Free

Artist Keeps Daily Visual Diary of Botanical Illustrations to Document Found Plant Life


Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.

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