The RHS Lindley Libraries hold several collections of drawings made by Asian artists, whether made for the export market to Europe, commissioned by British officials, or, in recent times, made by amateur and professional artists for exhibition and sale in the international market for botanical art. This diary contains examples from some of these collections. Most of the drawings are by Chinese artists, and date from the nineteenth century, when Chinese plants were being introduced into Britain by collectors, some of them working for the Horticultural Society. Probably the earliest of the Society’s oriental drawings come from an album compiled in Canton around 1800. A further collection of 100 drawings of flowers and fruits probably dates originally from the middle of the nineteenth century. Also included are drawings from Icones Plantae Japonicae, but the drawings are very much in the Chinese rather than the Japanese style. The earliest coloured Japanese illustrations in the RHS collection come from a work entitled A hundred chrysanthemums, by Keika Hasegawa, printed around 1891. Some of the drawings in this address book were made in Sri Lanka, by Harmanis De Alwis, an artist working for the Ceylon Botanic Garden.
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Dr Brent Elliott is librarian and archivist to the Royal Horticultural Society and author of numerous articles and books. He has written introductions and captions to the RHS diaries since 1993.
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