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COLLECTION Identifier: arn00016

Coloured botanical drawings by a Chinese artist

Scope and Content

Forty-nine original watercolors. Probably produced in Canton. Many bear “J. Whatman” 1804 or 1805 or “I. Taylo(r)” watermarks. The drawings generally include samples of fruits or seeds and a dissection of the flower to show its structure. Latin names and occasional Chinese labels appear in pencil on either front or reverse side. Includes a typed index that lists all plates including plate 19 Eriobotrya japonica which is lacking.


  • circa 1804-1805

Physical Description

Plates measure 38 x 48 cm and binding measures 45 x 53 cm.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available by appointment for research. Researchers must register and provide valid photo identification. Please contact for additional information.


0.25 linear feet (1 flat oversize box, 1 shared oversize box)


The watercolors are arranged alphabetically by latin name. Plate numbers may correspond to original order.


Purchased from William Wesley’s bookdealers in London with monies from the Sargent Fund. Received October 1914.

Related Materials

Other related material at the Botany Libraries, Harvard University Herbaria: Chinese plants: 45 drawings in water-color; Paintings of Chinese fruits, flowers, and vegetables, natural size by native artists.

Conservation and digitization note

In 2019, this collection was conserved and then digitized as part of the "Original botanical illustrations of the Botany Libraries" project.

Processing Information

Plates removed from original silk-embossed album, interleaved and rehoused in a box. Moved from Fol. 139.5 An8. Title from cover. Dates based on watermarks. Plate titles are taken from what is written on individual items, corrected titles appear in brackets. Original binding retained and housed in a shared oversize box.

Coloured botanical drawings by a Chinese artist, circa 1804-1805: A Guide.
Botany Libraries, Arnold Arboretum Library (Cambridge), Harvard University.
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Botany Libraries, Arnold Arboretum Library (Cambridge), Harvard University Repository

The Harvard University Herbaria houses five research libraries that are managed collectively as the Botany Libraries. The Arnold Arboretum Library in Cambridge specializes in the identification and classification of Old World plants with emphasis on Asia. The Archives of the Arnold Arboretum (Cambridge) houses unique resources, primarily field notes related to the plant specimens housed in Cambridge.

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