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Paints and Pens in the Service of Botany

Founders’ Room
April 17, 2020
03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Fully Booked
POSTPONED | Alice Tangerini discusses the overlaps in art and illustration and how the ability to discern the value of each by the viewer can elevate the appreciation of both genres.

Out of an abundance of caution in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Dumbarton Oaks will cancel all public events through the end of May.

Botanical art and botanical illustration are terms intermixed with a common subject of plants and often associated with the media used to depict the subject. In the art form a plant is usually painted or depicted in color presenting the plant in its natural state and has aesthetic beauty as its main component. Illustration is associated with scientific publications and the media most often used has historically been black and white or single color media and presents a morphologically accurate view of the plant. But there are overlaps in art and illustration and the ability to discern the value of each by the viewer can elevate the appreciation of both genres. This lecture provides examples of both art and illustration and where they come together.

As a Staff Illustrator for the Botany Department at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Alice Tangerini has been specializing in drawing plants since 1972. She works with pen and ink, graphite, and—recently—digital color. She has illustrated over 1,000 species of plants appearing in scientific periodicals, floras, and botanical and nature books. Tangerini teaches classes in illustration techniques, presents lectures on botanical illustration, and juries shows in botanical gardens and academic institutions. Her responsibilities in the Botany Department also include managing and curating an extensive collection of botanical illustrations. In 1999, Tangerini received the Distinguished Service Award from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. In 2008, she was honored with the Excellence in Scientific Botanical Art award from the American Society of Botanical Artists, of which she is a past Board Member.


Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants

Margaret Mee: Portraits of Plants presents 20 stunning paintings of Amazonian flora by the artist, explorer, and environmentalist Margaret Mee (1909–1988) in the Dumbarton Oaks rare book collection. The exhibition draws on manuscript and print works from the rare book collection to situate Mee within a tradition of women botanical artists and illustrators that stretches back to the seventeenth century. Portraits of Plants also interrogates the enduring interplay between art and science through a variety of media (botanical illustration, watercolor, photography) extending to the present day, with works by contemporary photographer Amy Lamb, scientific illustrator Alice Tangerini, and botanical artist Nirupa Rao.

Margaret Mee, Collection: Kew Gardens and Alice Tangerini, Collection: Smithsonian Institution.