Highlights slideshow

Browse highlights from our Women artists temporary exhibition currently on show in the Images of Nature gallery.

Jellyfish, by G W Dalby

Fried egg jellyfish, Cotylorhiza tuberculata, barrel jellyfish, Rhizostoma pulmo, and moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, by G W Dalby, watercolour on board, c1960.

G W Dalby’s colourful illustration of jellyfish perfectly captures their shape, translucency and movement through water. This is one of many beautiful natural history watercolours on show in our temporary Women Artists exhibition. 

The barrel jellyfish is one of the largest found in British waters and is a favourite food of leatherback turtles. None of the jellyfish drawn are venomous. 

Sulphur lily, Lilium suffureum, by Lilian Snelling

Sulphur lily, Lilium suffureum, by Lilian Snelling, watercolour on paper, 1963.

Snelling was a prolific artist who spent her early career based at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. She later became one of the few principle artists for Curtis's Botanical Magazine. Snelling's style changed noticeably during her career, creating a varied but consistently accurate collection of art.

Various British seaweeds, by Barbara Nicholson

Various British seaweeds, by Barbara Nicholson, watercolour on board, c1970-1977.

Nicholson's talent for painting British ecosystems was recognised by the Museum in the late 1970s when she was commissioned to create a series of scientifically accurate educational posters. One of these is this image of British seaweeds, which portrays the UK's ecology and biodiversity of the time. Approximately 650 species of seaweed live in British waters.

Mandarin duck, Aix galericulata, by Sarah Stone

Mandarin duck, Aix galericulata, by Sarah Stone, watercolour on paper, c1788.

Stone's natural history illustrations earnt her commissions from prominent collectors including Sir Joseph Banks and Sir Ashton Lever. Many of the specimens she depicted were unknown to science and thus became important scientific records.

Apricots and plums by Maria van Huysum

Apricots and plums, Prunus armeniaca and Prunus domestica, by Maria van Huysum, watercolour on paper, c1750.

Maria van Huysum came from a dynasty of Dutch flower painters from a time when Holland was renowned for its floral paintings and still lifes. Not much is known about van Huysum, although her male relatives are widely written about. This is not unusual for women painting in the 18th century.

Comparative morphology cabinet
Permanent artworks

A new permanent cabinet in the gallery focuses on comparative morphology, the science of identifying similarities in species inherited from a common ancestor as well as those that evolved independently. The practice relies heavily on images, and was first developed in the mid-16th century. 

The Museum's first superintendent Richard Owen was one of the fathers of the technique. 

Developments in modern technology have seen a shift from pictorial illustrations towards CT scanning and radiography.

Art, nature and imaging

Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, watercolour from the India collection

Discover how natural history art and imaging techniques have developed since the 17th century and explore selected Museum artworks.

Art, nature and imaging

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Women Artists book

Women Artists book

A beautiful collection of drawings of the natural world by female artists, spanning four centuries.

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