Painting ‘Perfect Nature’: Sydney Parkinson, Scientific Illustration, and the Age of Discovery

This exhibition was originally displayed in the second floor hallway of Martin Science at Randolph College, 26 January-30 May 2018. It was designed by Emily Smith and installed by student volunteers Stephanie Bartholomew, Caroline Czuhai, Rachel Harrison, Zoe Upshaw, and Yueyin Xiong, utilizing specimens from the Randolph College Natural History Collections as well as antique and reproduction painting utensils and ethnographic artifacts from Smith’s own collection. Also featured was an interactive display with links to Parkinson’s paintings which are held by other collections. To provide backstory about the Endeavour research process, we referenced the excellent posters created for the 2017 Hampton Court Flower Show by Heidi Venamore and the Royal Horticultural Society. For the opening of the exhibit, the student interns demonstrated eighteenth-century techniques of paint making and illustration from specimens; for details see this feature article in Randolph College News.

Please note that a few pages below may be unavailable until separate image use permissions have been obtained for this site.

For more information on the Randolph College Natural History & Archaeology Collections Project, click here.

Click on the text links below to view each theme within the exhibit.

Introduction: Why Sydney Parkinson?

Self-Portrait of Sydney Parkinson

Expanding Ideas of Biodiversity

“Art With Science Grows”: Scientific Illustration

Tools of the Artist’s Trade

Jane Middleton Gomeldon (1720-1780)

Collecting Other Cultures

“Your People Are Too Inquisitive”

The Death of An Artist

Sydney Parkinson…In a Comic?!