logo logo



Artistry and Accuracy: Botanical Illustrations by Margaret Stones

Artistry and Accuracy: Botanical Illustrations by Margaret Stones

Catwalk Gallery

February 26, 2023 - March 03, 2024

Artistry and Accuracy: Botanical Illustrations by Margaret Stones, the botanical illustrations of Australian-born Margaret Stones (1920—2018) are a seamless combination of art and science. The artist’s drawings document Louisiana’s plants and flowers with accurate scientific detail while also artistically and uniquely capturing the flora’s intricate beauty.  

Dr. Gresdna Doty, Louisiana State University (LSU) Professor of Theatre, suggested that LSU Chancellor Dr. Paul Murrill commission Margaret Stones to create six watercolor drawings commemorating the bicentennial of America and the fiftieth anniversary of LSU’s Baton Rouge campus in 1976. This illustrated study was so well received by the LSU community that it eventually expanded to become a project later known as the Native Flora of Louisiana Collection. The collection grew over the next twenty-three years into 224 watercolor drawings, becoming one of the most scientifically significant artistic recordings since John James Audubon published The Birds of America in 1838, and is housed in the LSU Libraries Special Collections Hill Memorial Library. 

Margaret Stones’ work during her time in Louisiana is considered an extraordinary record of the state’s plant life. Referring to her time in Louisiana as “the ten happiest years of my life,” Stones was clearly charmed by the state and even called it “my Louisiana.” Insisting on only working from live specimens, Stones made regular trips to Baton Rouge over the years, collecting specimens with locals and creating many enduring friendships, including that of Dr. Gresdna Doty. 

In 1986, Stones was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from LSU, and in 1991, her drawings were published in a book titled Flora of Louisiana. Stones left a great legacy documenting the beloved flora of Louisiana, especially some rare and endangered plants that had never been illustrated before. In 2018, the entire collection was republished in a limited-edition folio titled Native Flora of Louisiana. Twelve of the over 200 illustrations were offered as prints in a limited-edition series. The Louisiana Art & Science Museum’s collection includes all twelve of these prints. 

This exhibition was made possible by Cary Saurage through the Alma Lee, Norman, and Cary Saurage Fund of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The Baton Rouge Rotary Club donated Margaret Stones’ work to LASM’s collection, with Ann Connelly Fine Art providing framing.