Alida Withoos

Withoos trained as a painter and specialized in depictions of plants, animals, and insects in watercolor and oil. This vibrant study of a nasturtium is a great example of her style of botanical drawing, which was admired by contemporary Dutch horticulturalists and botanists, including Agnes Block. Withoos skillfully layered transparent and opaque watercolor washes to describe the fiery striped petals and convey the color and texture of nasturtium’s distinctive shield-shaped leaves. Following the conventions of botanical illustration at the time, she depicted the plant at several stages of growth—from buds to flowers to seeds. Withoos also observed her subject from numerous vantage points, showing both the upper and lower sides of leaves and blossoms.

Alida Withoos
Dutch, 1659–1715
Nasturtium, ca. 1675–1715
Watercolor and opaque watercolor over black chalk
The Morgan Library & Museum, Bequest of Charles Ryskamp; 2010.179