Carnegie Mellon University


March 17, 2023

Hunt Institute Presents: What We Collect: Three Major Gifts

6 April–30 June 2023

Click here for more information!

Image: Spread No. 7; Nymphalidae; Vanessa atalanta; Vanessa cardui; Polygona c-album, watercolor on paper by John Wilkinson (1934–), 1975, 32 × 36.5 cm, for his and Michael Tweedie, Collins Handguide to the Butterflies and Moths of Britain and Europe (London, William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., 1980, pp. 34–35), HI Art accession no. 8560.16, reproduced by permission of the artist.

Pittsburgh, PA—The third in our series celebrating recent acquisitions, this exhibition features major gifts by Francesca Anderson, Patricia Margaret Calhoun Rennie and John Wilkinson. The three artists are in our International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration series, and the donated artworks include pieces created before the Institute was founded through 2022. Some of these artworks were created for a specific publication, some were preparatory or field sketches and some were prepared for exhibition, but none have been exhibited before at the Hunt Institute. Whether working alongside botanists for scientific and horticultural publications or preparing artworks for collectors, galleries or commercial use, artists throughout the centuries have added their individual perspectives to portraying plants and have made lasting contributions to the botanical record and the history of art. This selection of recent major gifts to the Art Department of the Hunt Institute represents our commitment to building lifelong relationships with botanical artists.

In June 2021 Francesca Anderson (1946–) donated 24 of her quill pen-and-ink drawings on Strathmore paper that were created between 1989 and 1993. The subjects include bulb plants, such as species of tulips and crocus, narcissus, lily of the valley, pineapple lily and 12 amaryllis. Included in the group of amaryllis are 6 of the 8 pen-and-ink drawings exhibited and awarded a gold medal by the Royal Horticultural Society, 24–25 January 1995. Anderson’s drawing of globe cabbage was included in our 7th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration (1992).

In spring 2022 Patricia Margaret Calhoun Rennie (also Patricia Margaret Calhoun Watson, 1931–) donated 127 artworks, including watercolors, pencil drawings, pen-and-ink illustrations and metalpoint. These artworks cover a broad range of her career, spanning across decades and continents, including works created in the United States, Greece and her home country of England. Also included are several field drawings and preparatory sketches. She had four watercolor paintings included in our Contemporary Botanical Art and Illustration (1st International, 1964).

In summer 2022 John Wilkinson (1934–) donated 75 watercolor paintings. This gift includes 18 paintings of various subjects for which he is well known, including several mushrooms, as well as flowering plants. Additionally, he donated 57 watercolor illustrations representing the entirety of his work for the Collins Handguide to the Butterflies and Moths of Britain and Europe (1980). We are privileged to add this complete set of illustrations to our collection, which already includes his illustrations for the Collins Handguide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe (1978) and Collins Gem Guides, Mushrooms and Toadstools (1982). He had two watercolor paintings included in our 5th International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration (1983).


The reception on 6 April (5:00–7:00 pm) is open to the public. At 5:30 pm in the gallery the curator will introduce the exhibition and the artists in attendance.


The exhibition will be on display on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building at Carnegie Mellon University and will be open to the public free of charge. Hours: Monday–Friday, 9:00 am–noon and 1:00–5:00 pm (except 7 April, 14 April and 29 May). Because our hours of operation are occasionally subject to change, please call or email before your visit to confirm. For further information, contact the Hunt Institute at 412-268-2434.

About the Institute

The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, a research division of Carnegie Mellon University, specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation. To this end, the Institute acquires and maintains authoritative collections of books, plant images, manuscripts, portraits and data files, and provides publications and other modes of information service. The Institute meets the reference needs of botanists, biologists, historians, conservationists, librarians, bibliographers and the public at large, especially those concerned with any aspect of the North American flora.

Hunt Institute was dedicated in 1961 as the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library, an international center for bibliographical research and service in the interests of botany and horticulture, as well as a center for the study of all aspects of the history of the plant sciences. By 1971 the Library’s activities had so diversified that the name was changed to Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Growth in collections and research projects led to the establishment of four programmatic departments: Archives, Art, Bibliography and the Library.