British Council launching Francis Buchanan and his Pioneering Natural History Drawing, 1802-1803 on 3 April 2012 at its premises. This exhibition of professional facsimiles of 30 plants and animals has been produced by the Linnean Society of London and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, with the support of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The British Council.
The first scientific natural history collections from Nepal were made by Dr Francis Buchanan (later Hamilton) during a year in the Kathmandu Valley in 1802-1803. This 'Father of Nepalese Botany', was a Scottish surgeon-naturalist on Captain Knox's political mission to the Court of Nepal, spending his time recording and collecting over a thousand plant species - hundreds of which turned out to be new and previously un-described. He placed great importance on local plant names, and instructed his Indian assistant, Babu Ramajai Bhattacharji, to document these spoken names and transliterate them into English. Buchanan-Hamilton frequently used these local names for the new scientific names he coined, and many persist in the scientific names that we use today. He also took with him an Indian botanical artist from Calcutta who prepared exquisite coloured drawings of over a hundred species, especially orchids and other succulents which did not preserve well as pressed specimens. When Buchanan-Hamilton returned to England in 1806 he gave these drawings and his scientific records to his friend from University days, James Edward Smith, and they have lain virtually unknown in the archives of the Linnean Society of London (which Smith founded) ever since. Recent research is uncovering the scientific, cultural and political value of these early collections, and this exhibition is the first public viewing of the drawings by a talented, but sadly un-named Indian artist. Two centuries on, botanical research continues with British and Nepalese scientists teaming up with Japanese and other international botanical experts working on the Flora of Nepal. The first of ten volumes covering 600 species was published in 2011, and includes illustrations by Nepalese botanical artist Neera Joshi Pradhan.
This exhibition of professional facsimiles of 30 plants and animals has been produced by the Linnean Society of London and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, with the support of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and The British Council. The painting will be exhibited at the British Council Nepal’s premises as the paintings were prepared right here 200 years ago at the British Residency site.
You can view Buchanan-Hamilton's Drawings from http://www.linnean-online.org/view/buchanan_hamilton/buchanan_hamilton.html