Botanical Art for Science

The subjects of freehand drawing and biological illustration were taught in Wageningen for many years. These were courses in botanical drawing and landscape architectural drawing. The Agricultural College, and later the university, also employed professional artists who produced botanical drawings for research and publications. The drawings of plants, parts of plants and plant diseases are scientifically accurate and very detailed. They are an example of the interaction between science and art. In later years, photography and digital art software became the norm and freehand drawing became increasingly less common. This selection shows works by artists who were appointed as botanical illustrators at various departments of the then Agricultural College. Joke has made a selection from the many botanical drawings present in WUR’s collection.

Special Collections has the ambition to make as many images as possible available online through  WUR Image Collections. Many images can be downloaded free of charge.


De geschiedenis van de Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen: Van school naar hogeschool, 1873-1945. Part 1 / J. van der Haar, assisted by M.E. de Ruiter, archivist. Wageningen: Agricultural University, 1993.
Botanical artists in the Netherlands (website visited on 19/1/2022).

Joke Chef's special: A Tast of the Collections

Nature is full of surprises

Daucus carota ssp. sativus (Hoffm.) Arcangeli

Daucus carota ssp. sativus (Hoffm.) Arcangeli

This bunch of carrots could well be sold in a shop today thanks to the work of KromKommer, a company set up by WUR students and others to ‘save’ fruit and vegetables that have been rejected due to their shape or appearance by selling them or processing them into products such as soup. This botanical watercolour was made by Mariet de Geus (1934-) between 1970 and 1985. She worked in the Biosystematics department. Over 400 of her watercolours and pen drawings can be viewed and downloaded in WUR Image Collections. Besides her work for Biosystematics, Mariet de Geus has also produced larger watercolours and oil paintings and she painted porcelain.


Mariet de Geus – botanisch tekenaar in ruste / Leslie Leijenhorst, 22 oktober 2015.
WUR Image Collections, drawings by Mariet de Geus.

Pencil drawing of the Allium roseum L.

Allium roseum L.

Miss H.G.D. (Ike) Zewald was appointed as artist to the Botanical section of Wageningen Agricultural University. She produced drawings for the various publications of the institute, including PhD theses, from the very start of H.C.D. de Wit’s (1909-1999) tenure as professor of botany. The drawing you see here was used in the PhD thesis of B.E.E. de Wilde-Duyfjes.


The crypts pages / Jan D. Bastmeijer. More drawings by Ike Zewald.
A revision of the genus Allium L. (Liliaceae) in Africa / B.E.E. de Wilde-Duyfjes. PhD Thesis. Promotor H.C.D. de Wit. Wageningen: Veenman, 1976. P. 174.
WUR Image Collections. Allium drawings by Ike Zewald.

Malus ‘John Downie’

Malus ‘John Downie’

Malus ‘John Downie’

This detailed drawing by Elisabeth Riemer-Gerhardt is dated 21 September 1956. Elisabeth Riemer-Gerhardt was born in 1930 in Buitenzorg (former Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia). She worked in the Biosystematics department of the Agricultural College in the 1950s and 1960s. Besides her work as a botanical illustrator, she also decorated ceramics. Elisabeth Riemer-Gerhardt produced many pencil drawings, but also beautiful watercolours of fruits and flowers.


WUR Image Collections. Over 400 drawings of plants, flowers and fruits by Elisabeth Riemer-Gerhardt.   

Plant diseases: Black spots

Plantenziekten: Zwartkleuring

Drawing by Suzon van Bovene-Beynon (1896, Batavia – 1968, The Hague) of black spot disease in cauliflower.

WUR Image Collections boasts 880 of her beautiful and accurate illustrations of plant diseases and pests. Suzon van Bovene-Beynon worked at the experimental station for greenhouse vegetable and fruit cultivation in Naaldwijk between 1946 and 1955. She was a watercolourist, painter and designer of book bindings and she also worked as a teacher at various art schools.


RKD artists: Suzon Beijnon
WUR Image Collections, drawings by Suzon van Bovene-Beynon

Blossoms in Spring

Malus x purpurea ‘Aldenhamnensis’ - Blossoms in Spring

Malus x purpurea ‘Aldenhamnensis’

Who isn’t cheered up by a drawing of a crab apple blossoming in spring? The drawing was made by Wil Brand (later Wil Wessel-Brand) and dated 14 May 1968. At the time, Wil Brand worked at the Laboratory for Botany and Geography of Wageningen Agricultural College. This botanical pen drawing is from the Botanical Gardens Collection. Wil Wessel-Brand exhibited her work in the Synagogue in Buren in August 2016.


WUR Image Collections, Pencil drawings by Wil Wessel-Brand

Signs of life

Plant parts of potato Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Alemaria. / Antonia Koornneef, 1971 - Tekenen van leven

Plant parts of potato Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Alemaria by Antonia Koornneef, 1971

Watercolour and pencil, 20.5 x 29.4cm. This scientific drawing of several stages of growth of a potato was made by Antonia (‘Tonie’ or ‘Tons’) Koornneef (16 May 1919 to 12 December 2012). She worked at the ‘Government Institute for Research on Varieties of Cultivated Plants’ in Wageningen. Several hundred of her watercolours of potato cultivars were published in the Dutch Potato Atlas.


Dutch potato atlas / Koornneef, A., en B. Marxmeier, s.n., 1961.
Tekenen van leven: Tekeningen, aquarellen en kaarten ten behoeve van de landbouwwetenschappen / Samengesteld door Rob Aalpol. Wageningen: Pudoc, 1984. 16 loose plates. Plate 13: Plant parts of the potato Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Alemaria

Wageningen Art for Science

is part of

Chef’s Special: A Taste of the Collections

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