Women, Art and Zoology

image of caimen and snake
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Celebrating the contribution of women as artists, illustrators and scientists.

This is an in-person only event at the British Library.

Ann Sylph, Librarian at the Zoological Society of London, delivers a special illustrated lecture on the history of women in the field of zoological art and illustration.

The value of art in communicating science and the need for wildlife conservation is increasingly being recognised and appreciated. Women artists had and continue to have a vital role in zoological art and science. 

In zoology, women have been involved in depicting and describing species over the centuries. This talk will highlight many of these women using many illustrations in the collections ZSL Library and Archives. 

Artists discussed will include:

Maria Merian (1647-1717), who was one of the first people to show that insects had a life cycle as well as her wonderful illustrations of the insects, especially butterflies, but also amphibians and reptiles. 

Elizabeth Gould (1804-1841), who provided the illustrations for the bird volume of 'The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle', 1841, including the famous finches, eventually used as an example by Darwin in 'On the origin of species...', 1859. 

Joan Procter (1897-1931), ZSL's first Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, appointed in 1923. She was a talented artist illustrating her own scientific papers.

Join us for this richly illustrated talk, which will celebrate the women artists whose work helps us reconnect with nature and take action to protect it. 

This event accompanies The British Library’s exhibition Animals: Art, Science and Sound.

Ann Sylph is Librarian at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). She is responsible for the library and archives, which support ZSL’s purpose to inform, inspire and empower people to stop wild animals from going extinct. Ann is particularly interested in the contribution of women to the development of zoology, the history of marine zoology and the historic joining of science and art or ‘sciart.’

Half price tickets available for Members, Students, Under 26s and other concession groups. 

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This event will not be live-streamed.

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Image credit: Common or spectacled caiman with South American false coral snake in Maria Merian's insects of Surinam, 1726. Courtesy of the Zoological Society of London.


Name: Women, Art and Zoology
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Free
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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* Please note that there is a £1.50 transaction fee when tickets are posted, or for telephone sales when an e-ticket is requested.