Past Library Exhibitions
Traveling through Texas’ Treasures
April – June 2022
Slightly over 20 years ago, the book A Treasury of Texas Flora: The Botanical Watercolors of Marie C. Wesby was published, featuring the late Marie Wesby’s watercolors of native Texas flowers coupled with text by Wesby and Susan Sander about the plants’ growing seasons and etymologies.
Marie Wesby studied art at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, working with noted instructors of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean art including Ryozo Ogura, a master of the sumi-e—or black ink painting—style. She also trained at the Morton Arboretum and volunteered her artistic skills to the Morton as well as the Field Museum.
Though A Treasury of Texas Flora’s artworks are not black and white as typical sumi-e paintings are, Wesby attempted to capture the essence of plants, rather than approximating a photographic likeness of them, through simplicity of style and attention to brush strokes.
Marie and her husband Vern were early members of BRIT, and they were also founders of the Native Plant Society of Texas. Their participation in the latter prompted them to travel across Texas with Vern photographing and Marie painting Texas native plants. Marie and Vern donated these watercolors from their cross-state travels to the BRIT Archives, and BRIT Library owns a copy of A Treasury of Texas Flora. BRIT Library & Special Collections
Plantarum Succulentarum Historia
June – December 2021
A selection from Pierre-Joseph Redoute’s Plantarum Succulentarum Historia, also titled Histoire des Plantes Grasses, is now on view in the BRIT Library and Upper Atrium Collections Gallery. This exhibition presents Redoute’s exquisit cactus and succulent stipple engravings with original hand color on paper from the Arader Natural History Collection of Art, highlighting cactus and succulents across BRIT collections and inspiring viewers to visit the FWBG Cactus Garden!
Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759 – 1840) was a botanist as well as a painter. Having originated from Belgium, he was the official court painter at Versailles for Marie Antoinette as well as Empress Josephine at Malmaison and was widely known as an exceptional and unmatched botanical illustrator. He is best known for his stipple engravings with original hand color in Les Roses, Les Liliacees, as well as Plantarum Succulentarum Historia, also titled Histoire des Plantes Grasses.
Tracing Topiaries and Finding Catesby’s Birds
October 2020 – June 2021
BRIT Library & the Upper Atrium Collections Gallery
Topiaries have an extraordinary history and presence in gardens. Spanning centuries, with their origins in the gardens of Rome, they extend across the world through Asia, Australia, the Americas, and beyond. They have evolved and transformed through the years taking many forms that surprise and delight, becoming multi-directional accentuation points for the garden.
Tracing Topiaries and Finding Catesby’s Birds, which runs concurrently with the Fort Worth Botanic Garden’s Topiaries in the Garden show, highlights those plants often or occasionally used for topiaries as well as birds frequently found among their foliage. A selection of pieces from the Library’s Arader Natural History Collection of Art is on view with works by Pierre Joseph Redouté, Leonhart Fuchs, William Roxburgh, and the wonderful birds of Mark Catesby. Rare books from the Library’s collection and specimens from the Herbarium are on view as well.
This exhibition is part of a collaboration between the Botanical Research Institute of Texas Library and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Topiaries in the Garden is on view October 16, 2020 – June 30, 2021.
Pines, Herbs, and Fruits: The World of Topiaries
January 22 – March 19, 2021
Madeline R. Samples Hall
Topiaries invite us into their worlds, offering spaces of stillness, abundance, and enchantment. They transform time through suspending us in their salubrious garden spaces. Their uncommon and uncharacteristic forms allow us to see the plants that comprise them – whether pines, herbs, or fruits – anew. Pines, Herbs, and Fruits: The World of Topiaries presents a selection of pieces from the Library’s Arader Natural History Collection of Art, with works by Pierre Joseph Redouté, Leonhart Fuchs, Georg Dionysius Ehret, Pancrease Bessa, among others. Rare books from the Library’s collection and specimens from the Herbarium are on view as well.
This exhibition is part of a collaboration between the Botanical Research Institute of Texas Library and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Topiaries in the Garden is on view at the FWBG October 16, 2020 – June 30, 2021.
The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion Photographs
February 2020 – April 2020
Photographs on view are from the most recent book of Mark Dion’s published in conjunction with his upcoming exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion on view February 8, 2020 – May 17, 2020.This Library exhibition is part of an institutional collaboration between BRIT and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (ACMAA).
The ACMAA sponsored Barney Lipscomb and Tiana Rehman to serve as botanical guides to West Texas for artist Mark Dion. Commissioned by the ACMAA, Mark—a contemporary artist who is part explorer, part historian, part naturalist, and part collector—has made a series of exploratory journeys through Texas that are inspired by four early naturalists/artists in Texas: Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge (1824–1913), John James Audubon (1785–1851), Frank Law Olmsted (1822–1903), and Charles Wright (1811–1885).
Photographs previously on view in the Library are below. All photographs courtesy of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.
Among the Birds and Flora of Texas
September 2019 – February 2020
Texas is composed of a great diversity of ecoregions, which give rise to an array of flora and fauna that are inextricably enmeshed. Of the many behaviors of birds found across wetlands, plateau, prairie, desert, hills, canyons, and along the coast of Texas is the tendency to gather, perch, flit, trill, and flutter among the diverse vegetation. Whether exotic, native, endemic, or cultivated, the flora throughout Texas invites and ensures spaces for birdlife to coexist with biological phenomena. To this end, Among the Birds and Flora of Texas brings to light the central and reciprocal nature of plants in the lives of birds through a selection of prints from Scott and Stuart Gentling’s Of Birds And Texas limited edition folio. Plant specimens from the BRIT Herbarium as well as rare materials from the BRIT Library’s Special Collection accompany the prints to highlight the botanical aspects that are evident in the Gentling’s studies of Texas birdlife.
This exhibition is running concurrently with the Amon Carter Museum of American Art’s exhibit Seeing in Detail: Scott and Stuart Gentling’s Birds of Texas, which is on view September 2019 – March 2020.
June 2019 – August 2019
William Roxburgh (1751–1815), “The Founding Father of Indian Botany,” who spent more than thirty years of his life in India, was an eminent Scottish botanist. He drew Indian plants for the East India Company using a team of artists working for him in Calcutta. The East India Company was founded in 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I for the purposes of trade with East and Southeast Asia and India.
In 1778, the company set up a post called “Naturalist and Botanist”, or “Naturalist to the Madras Government,” whose job it was to investigate and test plants that might be adapted for medicine or trade. Roxburgh took up the Madras post in 1776. In 1793, he went to Calcutta to be the first Superintendent of the Honourable Company’s Botanic Garden (founded in 1786). While in Calcutta, Roxburgh continued the custom that he had started in Madras of training and employing Indian artists to record plants grown in the garden and other species of interest.