Nature in Art's collection reflects the exciting diversity of work that has been produced by artists inspired by nature through the centuries.
The collection is growing and currently has work spanning 1500 years from over 60 countries and cultures by over 600 artists/makers.
Man has always been a painter. As early as 25,000 BC his first pictures were of animals. Despite this, it is surely remarkable that nature as a subject was largely overlooked for thousands of years and has only in the last four centuries again become an important stimulus to man’s creative endeavour.
As far as we know, it was not until the opening of Nature in Art in 1988 that the international heritage of art inspired by nature has been exclusively collected, displayed and celebrated by a museum anywhere. Probably boosted by the growth of a sense of public and individual responsibility for the conservation of our heritage in nature and the environment, and for inter-cultural dialogue, there is now also an awareness of the true artistic merit of fine examples of nature-inspired art that have been neglected in public art collections for too long.
The charity that owns and runs Nature in Art was set up in 1982 to establish and manage a self-sustaining, independent, professional museum exhibiting an international collection of fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature. In 1988 the museum opened free of debt in a fine 1760s mansion near Gloucester.
The collection has grown to embrace quality examples from over 50 countries and cultures spanning 1500 years by over 600 artists and makers, enhanced by a changing selection of loans from public and private collections around the world.
The support of the Resource/V&A Art Purchase Fund, The Art Fund and others to acquire key items for the collection has been instrumental in strengthening the collection. One of the most important paintings thus acquired was ‘Noah and the Animals entering the ark’, attributed to Jan van Kessel the Younger (1654 – 1708). This was shown at the Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in Tokyo and is one of many items from Nature in Art that have been lent for display in other museums. The grant-assisted purchase of (almost abstract) ‘The Road to Issel’ by Michael Porter (British contemporary) represents contemporary work exhibited. Both illustrate the quality and diversity which are the hallmarks of the collection.
The collection deliberately embraces a wide range of styles and media, not just paintings of ‘wildlife art’ or ‘illustration’. Works by Joseph Wolf (1820-1899), Peter Scott (1909-1989) or David Shepherd (b1931), for example, are shown beside many others that come under the broader notion of art inspired by nature (Jones, van Zeggeren, Venuto, Porter etc). The oil and acrylic works, like the other paint and print media, which are displayed with examples of sculpture, textiles, ceramics, ethnic art and other genres, give people the chance to have their expectations met whilst also providing opportunities for new discovery, inspiration and learning, so important in museums today.
Range of Work
The unique range of work found at Nature in Art represents the very many different approaches to the subject that artists have used. A wide range of styles are included from the hyper-realist to abstract (pictures, sculptures and objects), with oils, watercolours, acrylics, mixed media, ceramics, glass, wood, fabrics and many other media all being represented.
Ours is a deliberately all-embracing collection linked by its international quality and nature theme. So, it is not uncommon for visitors to see pictures by artists as diverse as Picasso, Jan van Kessel the Younger, Scott, Combes, Thorburn, Shepherd or Keulemans together with a byzantine mosaic or objects by Galle, Lalique and 18th and 19th century British or Japanese ceramic makers.
Nature in Art Collection