Highlights slideshow

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

Lear's macaw, Anodorhynchus leari, by Elizabeth Butterworth

Lear's macaw, Anodorhynchus leari, by Elizabeth Butterworth, pencil, ink and bodycolour on paper, 2005.

Elizabeth Butterworth breeds macaws and studies their movement to help her portray them in her art. The skill and detail evident in her paintings is impressive and she is often considered on a par with Edward Lear, Britain's most famous ornithological artist.

Bodycolour is a slightly thicker paint than watercolour.

Various bird eggs by Margaret Cockburn

Various bird eggs, by Margaret Cockburn, watercolour on card, 1858.

Margaret Cockburn grew up in India, where she became an amateur ornithologist. Unusually for a woman at the time, she corresponded with well-known male naturalists, including Allan Octavian Hume. The notes, illustrations and eggs she sent to him remain a significant part of the Museum's Indian ornithological record.

Rocky mountain locust, Melanoplus spretus, by Georgiana E Ormerod

Rocky mountain locust, Melanoplus spretus, by Georgiana E Ormerod, watercolour and ink on paper, 1884.

Georgiana E Omerod began her career drawing for publications and lectures for her sister Eleanor, a writer on economic entomology. This turned into a life-long love for painting and illustrating natural subjects. 

Magnolia, Magnolia sp, by Olga Makrushenko

Magnolia, Magnolia sp, by Olga Makrushenko, mixed media on card, 1999.

Olga Makrushenko began her career as a mathematician, but a love of botanical illustration motivated her to study drawing and painting and she now works as a freelance artist in Moscow.

You can see two of her depictions of magnolias in the Images of Nature gallery, which demonstrate her skill in creating beautiful and accurate images. 

Heathland by Barbara Nicholson

Heathland by Barbara Nicholson, watercolour on board, c1970-1977.

The Museum recognised Nicholson's talent for painting British ecosystems in the late 1970s and commissioned her to create a series of scientifically accurate educational posters, including this image of British heathlands. It depicts 36 plants and fungi commonly found in the UK.

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.

Buy Women Artists online