8 women botanical artists from across Europe

botanical illustration of a plant with red and green leaves

Making contributions to both art and science

Aleksandra Strzelichowska (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

Read the stories of eight women who produced some of the most detailed and accurate depictions of plants, making contributions to both art and science, despite challenges, including limited access.

Berthe Hoola van Noten

Berthe Hoola van Nooten (1817-1892) was a Dutch botanical artist known for her illustrations in 'Fleurs, Fruits et Feuillages Choisis de l'Ile de Java' in 1863-64.

She published 40 plates depicting interesting plant species from Java in Brussels in 1863. These were dedicated to Sophia Mathilde, wife of King William III of the Netherlands. She was married to Dirk Hoola van Nooten. They travelled together, establishing a Protestant school for girls in New Orleans. She died in poverty in Jakarta at the age of 74.

botanical illustration of a plant with red and green leaves
botanical illustration of a plant branch with yellow banana-like fruit

Madeleine-Françoise Basseporte

Madeleine Françoise Basseporte (1701-1780) was a French painter, who was born and died in Paris. Before becoming the Royal Painter for the King's Garden and Cabinet - the first woman artist to hold this position - she specialised in pastel portraits.

Basseporte was best known for botanical illustrations, which took a scientific approach focused on plant structure. She was influential in the education and training of other artists, including King Louis XV's daughters.

botanical illustration of light blue and pink flowers
botanical illustration of plants with red flowers and green leaves

Alida Withoos

Alida Withoos (c.1661/62-1730) was a Dutch botanical artist and painter, born in Amersfoort and trained by her father. Training women in art was not common in her times, but Withoos gained a reputation as a painter, especially for her botanical images.

She was one of the many artists who painted plants at the country house Vijverhof in the service of the art collector and horticulturalist Agnes Block. In 1687, she painted the first pineapple grown in Europe.

botanical illustration of a plant with pink flowers and green leaves
botanical illustration of a plant with pink flowers and green leaves, with a butterfly

Johanna Helena Herolt-Graff

Johanna Helena Herolt (1668-1723) was an 18th-century botanical artist from Germany who learned to paint from her mother, Maria Sibylla Merian.

She is well-known for paintings of flowers and botanical subjects, similar to her mother's work. Herolt and her mother collaborated on numerous works, including The Insects of Suriname, which proved especially popular. Her paintings are vivid, with rich colours against the vellum. She knew how to arrange plants for maximum impact.

botanical illustration of a number of different types of plums
botanical illustration of a bright yellow sunflower

Augusta Innes Withers

Augusta Hanna Elizabeth Innes Withers (1792-1877) was an English natural history illustrator known for her collaboration with Sarah Drake on the Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala by horticulturalist James Bateman.

She was appointed 'Flower Painter in Ordinary' to Queen Adelaide and Queen Victoria, and produced illustrations for various publications, including John Lindley's Pomological Magazine.

botanical illustration of a plant with green leaves and red and yellow flowers
botanical illustration of two mango

Sarah Anne Drake

Sarah Anne Drake (1803–1857) was an English botanical illustrator known for her collaborations with John Lindley and Augusta Innes Withers.

She created more than 1000 illustrations for publications such as Sydenham Edwards' Botanical Register, James Bateman's Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala, Nathaniel Wallich's Plantae Asiaticae Rariores, and John Forbes Royle's Illustrations of the botany and other branches of the natural history of the Himalayan Mountains.

Her career ended when the Botanical Register went out of business in 1847, and she returned to Norfolk to care for elderly relatives.

botanical illustration of a flower with green leaves and small red, yellow and white petals
botanical illustration of a flower with green leaves and small purple and yellow petals

Elisa-Honorine Champin

Elisa-Honorine Champin was a French watercolourist and lithographer known for painting flowers, fruit and vegetables.

She first exhibited under her maiden name, Pitet, from 1833 to 1836. After marrying French painter Jean-Jacques Champin in 1837, she started using his name. She created vegetable posters for 'Le Jardin Potager' which were printed by Lemercier & Cie and used as advertisements for Vilmorin-Andrieux, a company which sold seeds.

botanical illustration of purple and pink flowers with green leaves
botanical illustration of red, pink and blue flowers with green leaves

Frances Elizabeth Tripp

Frances Elizabeth Tripp (1832-1890) was a British botanist, botanical illustrator, philanthropist and writer. She was the author of British Mosses, their homes, aspects, structures and uses, a two-volume work first published in 1868, which was illustrated by Tripp and coloured by Benjamin Fawcett.

Tripp received a considerable inheritance from her grandmother and used it to pursue scientific research and charitable causes, including supporting the Kyrle Society which aimed for social reform and the establishment of the National Trust.

She died in London in 1890 following a heart attack.

detailed botanical illustration of moss leaves
detailed botanical illustration of moss leaves