Priscilla Fawcett

Science illustrated…

 Priscilla Fawcett

Priscilla Fawcett at work 

 By Janet Mosely

The art of illustrating plants for the purposes of scientific study requires a unique combination of artist and scientist.  Priscilla Fawcett is both, her scientific illustrations are well known in the botanic world for their accuracy as well as their beauty, and Fairchild was privileged to have her on our staff as Botanic Illustrator from 1965 to 1989. 

During that time, Fawcett created almost a thousand illustrations which are still in use today as reference for researchers. Her pen and ink drawings reveal structures that can’t be captured photographically.  Using the stippling technique, she faithfully reproduced even the most minute detail.

Many of these illustrations were created for Drs. Donovan S. and Helen B. Correll’s monumental work The Flora of the Bahamas Archipelago (1982).  She also provided the illustrations for Dr. P. B. Tomlinson’s The Biology of Trees Native to Tropical Florida (1980) and The Botany of Mangroves (1986).  She was the primary illustrator for The Flora of Florida Project as well as providing fellow Fairchild researchers illustrations for their various articles and publications.

Fawcett’s time at Fairchild was very productive.  Not only did she create the illustrations, she also painted a series of watercolors of tropical flowering plants and cycads, some of which have been exhibited at the Hunt Botanical Library and the National Botanical Garden, South Africa.  She taught a popular course in botanical illustration for Fairchild’s Adult Education program. In recognition of her valuable contributions to the field of plant study, in 1993 she was awarded the Robert H. Montgomery Medal for distinguished achievement in the field of palms and cycads.

In the mid-1990’s, Fawcett’s illustrations were carefully collected and categorized by Herbarium Curator Lynka Woodbury and her volunteers.  They are housed in the Archives and have recently been formally curated as The Priscilla Fawcett Collection.  A list of the illustrations in the Priscilla Fawcett Collection can soon be found at www.fairchildgarden.org on the Archive Page.

Cyrtomium falcatum

Cyrtomium falcatum, Priscilla Fawcett Collection.

Tamarindus indica

Tamarindus indica, Priscilla Fawcett Collection.

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Please contact:
Nancy Korber
Librarian/Archivist
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Center for Tropical Plant Conservation
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
library@fairchildgarden.org
tel. 305/667-1651, ext. 3424
fax 305/665-8032