In 2017, botanical sketches were newly found in the backyard of the University Museum, the
University of Tokyo (UMUT). All the illustrations were drawn by Yamada Toshio (1882−1941), a botanical artist active from late Meiji to early Shōwa eras. He is known as one of the illustrators of An Illustrated Flora of Nippon (1940), a monumental botanical publication written by Makino Tomitarō (1862−1957), a famous botanist in Japan. 534 illustrations (367 colour pictures and 167 line drawings) drawn between 1909 and 1937 were found. Many of them bear on the reverse side information on when the illustrations were made, and how the specimens were collected. It is noteworthy that Yamada collected materials by accompanying Makino on the field, or by receiving items collected by Makino himself in the Koishikawa Botanical Gardens. Thus, these illustrations are thought to have been made under the guidance of Makino.
Many drawings proved to be original illustrations of Makino’s publications, such as An Illustrated Flora of Nippon, An Illustrated Analytical Key to the Japanese Common Plants (1950) or Illustrations of Alpine Plants in Japan (1953). These illustrations are not only excellent and truthful depictions of plants, but they are also worthy in clarifying the process behind Makino’s publications. The present exhibition showcases for the first time 60 colour pictures from these botanical sketches resulting from the collaboration between a botanist and a botanical artist. It provides the public with a unique opportunity to see this new collection from the University of Tokyo, testifying to the history of botanical art that supported botanical research in the university.
[Organizer] The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)