Nathaniel Wallich's drawings
Read about Nathaniel Wallich's drawings collected during his time in India
Explore Wallich's drawings
Kew holds many historical illustrations including approximately 200 colour illustrations completed during Wallich’s time at Calcutta Botanic Garden. Many of the drawings are of plants collected by Wallich in Nepal in 1821, and they may have been made at the time of collection by Indian artists employed by Wallich. The drawings often match herbarium specimens, and are of a variety of different plant groups, with the orchid and ginger families featuring prominently. These illustrations most probably came to Kew, as part of a consignment of approximately 3000 drawings, when Joseph Hooker was involved in sorting out the botanical collections of the India Museum during its dissolution in the late nineteenth century.
Indian botanical artwork in the Natural History Museum Library forms one of their largest subject collections and falls into two categories. The first and larger category comprises several different collections from the various Botanical Gardens of the British East India Company territories. All of these drawings date from the late eighteenth century through to the 1850s and the demise of the Company’s administration in India. The second comprises collections portraying Indian flora by artists who were mainly European.
The Wallich collection at the NHM consists of over 100 watercolour drawings and pencil sketches of plants drawn by a team of Indian artists at the Calcutta Botanic Garden under the supervision of Nathaniel Wallich. It is believed that the drawings were received in the 1870s when the India Office moved its premises to South Kensington. Some of the drawings are annotated as having been the basis of plates published in Wallich’s Plantae Asiaticae Rariores (1830-32).