Contemporary Botanical Artists: The Shirley Sherwood Collection
16 September – 6 December 1996
After graduating in botany at Oxford, Dr. Sherwood had intended to become a botanical illustrator but instead became involved with medical research, later traveling throughout the world and writing and editing her own publications. Dr. Sherwood's collection, housed in England and undoubtedly the finest of contemporary botanical art in private hands, had been assembled within just the previous five years. This remarkable feat was due not solely to her background as a biologist, or her opportunities for extensive travel, but to a discerning eye and a passion to seek out only the finest contemporary painters. With this exhibition she hoped to introduce these artists to a wider public.
The exhibition, international in scope, debuted at the Kew Gardens Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from 1 March to 2 June 1996 and, after its engagement at the Hunt Institute, versions of the exhibition traveled to the Gibbes Gallery, Charleston (17 January–2 March 1997), the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (31 October 1996–12 January 1997), the New Orleans Museum of Art (1 March–13 April 1997), The National Arts Club, New York City (3–30 April 1997) (under the auspices of Wave Hill, an estate owned by the City of New York), and the National Galleries of Scotland in both Inverleith House at the Royal Botanic Garden (Edinburgh) and the Museum of Modern Art (June and July 1997). An accompanying book by Sherwood titled Contemporary Botanical Artists: The Shirley Sherwood Collection, edited by Victoria Matthews, was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in association with The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and subsequently by Abbeville in the United States. The 240-page book contained 263 full-color illustrations by over 100 artists from 17 countries around the world.