Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Drawing - Ficus carica L.
  • Ficus carica L.
    Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588
  • Enlarge image

Ficus carica L.

  • Object:


  • Date:

    ca. 1575 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588 (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    water-colour and body-colours

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case DP, shelf 19, box CII

Jacques Le Moyne De Morgues (1533?-1588) was a French painter, illustrator and explorer. He also worked in London and accompanied the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) on his expeditions to Florida in North America. This is one of 59 watercolours of fruit and flowers that Le Moyne de Morgues painted on 33 sheets. We do not know exactly when he painted them, but there are some clues. The watermark in the paper is the same as that used in Paris and Arras in 1568, and the binding is French. It therefore seems likely that they date from the period between 1568 and 1572. This is when Le Moyne fled to England with other Huguenots (French Protestants) to escape religious persecution in France.

The watercolours were originally in a fine tooled-leather binding dating to the late 16th century. Curators identified the watercolours as the work of Le Moyne in 1922. They removed them from the binding and mounted them individually. (The binding is in the collection of the National Art Library at the V&A.)

In the 16th century botanical illustrators revived the practice of working from real plants. Here the degree of naturalistic detail in the representation of the fig suggests that Le Moyne was studying a living plant rather than earlier botanical illustrations.

Physical description

Botanical illustration of a Fig on a branch and on the back, a single fig.


ca. 1575 (painted)


Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588 (painter)

Materials and Techniques

water-colour and body-colours


Height: 10.75 in, Width: 7.50 in

Object history note

The drawings from this series were acquired in 1856 as one of the first purchases of the V&A, almost by accident, and solely because they were bound up in an extremely fine French late-16th-century brown calf binding.

Historical significance: This series of watercolours by Le Moyne are outstanding botanical illustrations, remarkable for their directness and truth to nature.

Descriptive line

Botanical study, a branch of medlar on the recto and a single fig on the verso, a sheet from a series of drawings of English flowers, fruits, etc., Jacques Le Moyne des Morgues, ca. 1575

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Paul Hulton, The Work of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, A Huguenot Artist in France, Florida and England, vol. I, London, 1977, p. 160

The following is the full text of the entry:

21. Recto. Medlar
Plate 27d

Medlar, Mespilus germanica L. The fruits are yellow shading to dull gold, the seeds reddish brown touched with white, the interlacing sepals over the apex are yellowish green.

Watercolours and bodycolours; 274 x 189 mm; 10 ¾ x 7 ⅜ in.

Numbered 37.


LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923).

Verso. Fig
Plate 28a

Common Fig, Ficus carica L. The fruit on the stem is green, the ripe fruit, separately drawn, dull purple and green, deep red on the inside, heightened with white.

Watercolours and bodycolours.

Numbered 38.

LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923).

Spencer Savage, ‘The discovery of some of Jacques Le Moyne’s botanical drawings’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXI (1922)
Spencer Savage, ‘Early botanical painters. No. 3. – Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXIII (1923)


Water-colour; Gouache

Subjects depicted

Fruit; Fig


ELISE; Illustration; Drawings; Gardens & Gardening


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.