TOPCurrent Exhibition < Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Botanical Arts of Flowers Queen Charlotte and the Enlightenment
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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Brilliant World of Botanical Art, Combining Beauty and Scientific Perspective

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, with a collection of over 220,000 pieces of botanical art.

Kew Gardens, as it is commonly known, began in 1759 as a small garden in southwest London opened by Princess Augusta, the mother of King George III. During the reign of King George III and Queen Charlotte, the garden was expanded dramatically in scale, and developed as a research institution amid the Enlightenment that was then sweeping across Europe.

This exhibition features items from Kew Gardens' invaluable collection of 18th and 19th century botanical art, as well as a selection of ceramics from manufacturers including Wedgwood, whom was beloved by Queen Charlotte and made a purveyor to the royal household. The exhibition traces the development and changing historical context of the natural sciences and botanical art in England during a time of dramatic upheaval.

Botanical art brings together the scientific perspective of minute depiction and dazzling beauty. Please enjoy this opportunity to be surrounded by colorful flowers from all over the world.


・Around 100 works of botanical art, meticulously drawn by attentive artists.

・Rare, brilliantly hand-colored Flora (botanical publications) such as The Temple of Flora and Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

・Queen Charlotte’s favored Queensware and other ceramics from manufacturers with ties to the Royal Family including Wedgewood, Worcestor, and Derby.

Visiting information


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Botanical Arts of Flowers 
Queen Charlotte and the Enlightenment


Saturday, 18 September - Sunday 28 November, 2021

Closed every Mondays (except September 20), and September 21


Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum
5-21-9, Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel 050-5541-8600


10:00 - 18:00 (Last admission at 17:30)


Online reservation is recommended for the exhibition.
Reserve Ticket for Your Visit here.

  General Group
Adults General¥1,400 Advance/Group¥1,120
University students General¥1,120 Advance/Group¥890
Middle & high school students General¥700 Advance/Group¥560
Senior (65 and over) General¥700 Advance/Group¥560

・Figures in parentheses are group admission fees (for groups of 20 or more).
・Admission is free for elementary and younger students and for middle school students residing in or attending school in Tokyo.
・Admission is free for visitors (and two accompanying persons) with a Physical Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Certificate, Rehabilitation Certificate, Mental Disability Certificate, or Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Certificate.
・ Admission is free for teacher-led educational visits by Tokyo primary, junior high, and high school students. ・Admission is free for seniors (65 and above) on the third Wednesday of each month.
Suspended until further notice


Organized by

Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture,
Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

With the special cooperation of

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Supported by

British Council

Supported by

Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.

Planning cooperation


With the co-sponsorship of

Toda Corporation,
Bloomberg L.P. Bloomberg

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, known by the nickname Kew Gardens, is one of the world's leading botanical gardens located on the banks of the River Thames in southwest London. The 132-hectare garden is home to more than 30,000 species of plants and about 14,000 trees.
The garden’s long history stretches back to its establishment in 1759 by Princess Augusta, the mother of King George III. Later, the garden was expanded as various plants were collected from around the globe. Today, Kew Gardens is not only a world-class tourist attraction, but also a world-leading research institution in the scientific study of plants and fungi.
In 2003, Kew Gardens was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not only for its diverse plant collection, but also for its significant contributions to the history and development of landscaping techniques.

Related Programs

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Exhibition composition

  • Prologue—17th Century

    Botanical art originally developed as an accompaniment to scientific publications such as pharmacopoeias and botanical journals.
    This section introduces works produced in the 17th century, a period when botanical art was beginning to emerge before its dramatic development in the 18th century.

    Early botanical illustrations instrumental in the history of botanical journals

    Unidentified Artist / Commissioned by Basilius Besler
    Carnations: I. Caryophyllus multiplex flore albo; II. Caryophyllus multiplex laciniosus flore incarnato; III. Caryophyllus multiplex flore purpureo rubescente (Dianthus spp.)
    Original edition of Hours Eystettensis published 1613; this may be from a later edition / Hand-colored print on paper
    The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • Royal Patronage—Art of Botanical Illustration

    European botanical gardens trace their history back to medicinal herb gardens, but with the development of botany during the Renaissance, many began to cultivate a wide range of plants. In the 17th and 18th centuries, botany and the natural sciences were prioritized by powerful monarchs in France, England, and the Holy Roman Empire, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was established in 1759.
    The British royal family maintained deep ties to Kew Gardens, where many exemplary pieces of botanical art were produced.

    Georg Dionysius Ehret, botanical painter who pioneered the style of botanical painting

    Georg Dionysius Ehret, Tulipa 'Bisard Adelaar' 1740, Watercolour on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Franz Bauer, first royal painter at Kew Gardens

    Franz Andreas Bauer, Strelitzia reginae 1818, Hand-coloured lithograph on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Frederick Nodder, one of Queen Charlotte's favorite botanical painters

    Frederick Polydore Nodder, Linum usitatissimum 1794, Print on paper, Private collection

    Gorgeous collection of dramatically rendered illustrations

    Ramsay Richard Reinagle, Lilium superbum / The superb Lily 1799, Print on paper, Private collection

  • The Age of Enlightenment

    The Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries nourished a flourishing of philosophy, medicine, botany, and other sciences, as well as economics and commerce, leading to the start of the Industrial Revolution. In England, the royal family played an important role in the developments during this era of science and industry. In particular, Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, protected the arts and sciences and became a force behind the industrial development of her country.
    This section includes a selection of Wedgwood porcelain, one of the favorites of the queen.

    Wedgwood’s Queensware, named for Queen Charlotte

    Wedgwood, Queensware coffee pot, with transfer decoration showing a tea party c.1770, Creamware, transfer print, Private collection

    Jasperware, developed by the successful Wedgwood

    Wedgwood, Jasperware ‘Portland vase’ 19th century, designed in c.1790, Jasperware, Private collection

  • Company School

    The “company” refers to the British East India Company, and the Indian painters who produced work for the British in India from the late 18th to 19th centuries are known as the Company School. The term Company School includes works commissioned by botanists to record their research, as well as works produced in Southeast and East Asia, where the East India Company was influential.
    Exotic subjects were favored, and some works hint at the mixture of Western and Eastern styles.

    Artwork depicting oriental plants

    Unidentified Indian Artist, A species of Dendrobium, probably Dendrobium gibsonii, Early 19th century, Gouache on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • Women Botanical Artists

    The study of botany and watercolors was considered part of a woman’s education in 18th century England. Outstanding female botanical painters emerged during this era, when painting became a new option for women whose career choices were very limited.
    This section introduces the work of female painters who were active in the field of botanical art.

    Matilda, daughter of King George III and Queen Charlotte

    Princess Charlotte, Augusta Matilda, Rosa sp. 1789, Ink and wash on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Margaret Meen, friend of Queen Charlotte

    probably painted by Margaret Meen, Untitled watercolour c.1800, Watercolour and gouache on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • Curtis′s Botanical Magazine

    Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, first published in London in 1787, was an academic journal with a wide readership that continues to be published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, more than two centuries later. It was lavishly produced, using copperplate reproductions of outlines based on watercolors painted by the resident artists, with each illustration hand-colored. The original paintings and the hand-colored etchings are shown side-by-side in this exhibition.

    Original painting (left) and hand-colored etching (right)

    Sydenham Teast Edwards, Paeonia suffruticosa (original attribution. Paeonia moutan)
    (left side)c.1809,Graphite and watercolour on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    (right side)1809, Hand-coloured print on paper, Private collection

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Top row from left:1. Rosa moscosa (original attribution. Rosa Lutea) 1788, Hand-coloured print on paper, Private collection
2. Johan Zoffany, Charlotte Queen of Great Britain 1772, Mezzotint on paper, Private collection
3. Peter Henderson, Rhododendron ponticum / The Pontic Rhododendron 1802, Print on paper, Private collection

Middle row from left:4. Sydenham Teast Edwards, Yucca gloriosa 1810, Hand-coloured print on paper, Private collection
5. Wedgewood, Queensware covered dish, with green decoration 1765-1770, Cremware, Private collection
6. Mrs Thomas Hervey Roses. Rosa centifolia and Rosa gallica 1800, Watercolour on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Bottom row from left:7. Wedgewood, Brooch of Queen Charlotte 20th century, Jasperware, Private collection
8. Sydenham Teast Edwards, Paeonia officinalis c.1815, Graphite and watercolour on paper, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
9. Frederick Polydore Nodder, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, Centaurea cyanus, Chrysanthemum fegetum 1794, Print on paper, Private collection

6.8 ⒸThe Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew /3.5.7 Photo Michael Whiteway / Photo Brain Trust Inc.

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