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  • Drawing
    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1855 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water- and body-colour on paper, laid on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2A, shelf DR86

Object Type
Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) produced this diagram to illustrate the lectures on botany that he gave at the Government School of Design in London in the mid-1850s. It is one of several surviving examples that show how he taught botanical drawing. In this clear drawing the elements of the flowers are shown in a diagrammatic form, which helped Dresser to explain principles of biology.

Dresser began his career in botany and teaching. He was appointed as a lecturer in botany at the Government School of Design in 1854. In 1856 the designer and architect Owen Jones (1809-1874) invited Dresser to illustrate a plate on plants and flowers for his book, Grammar of Ornament, which looked at different styles of decoration.

Design & Designing
Dresser believed that everyone can appreciate of the underlying geometry of living things and the patterns that derive from them. Dresser's interest in plants was mainly in the forms and designs they displayed during growth. He felt that by understanding the basic patterns upon which all things were constructed, the designer would know how to bring together seemingly very different and exotic forms into a new style.

Physical description

Water- and body-colour on paper drawing, laid on canvas

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1855 (made)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Water- and body-colour on paper, laid on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'The Calyx & Perianth'
Textual information; Inscribed; pencil

Textual information; inscribed; ink


Height: 55 cm, Width: 75.5 cm

Object history note

One of 72 (museum numbers 3925 to 3996) diagrams to illustrate Dresser's lectures on botany at Marlborough House, 1854-1856.

Descriptive line

Drawing to illustrate lectures on Botany, given at Marlborough House, drawn in London by Christopher Dresser, ca. 1855

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

Julius Bryant, ed. Art and Design for All. The Victoria and Albert Museum London: V&A Publishing, 2011. ISBN: 9781851776665.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Dresser complained that he was not able to make a career as a designer until five years after he had finished his studies. His started his career as a botanist and as a teacher of botany at the Government School of Design in London. He drew this diagram to illustrate his lectures on botany as applied to ornament. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Flowers (plants); Figures


Drawings; Scotland; Designs


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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