This exhibition was on display from December 07, 2019 to September 25, 2022.

There were 126 objects in this exhibition but right now we can only show you 125 of them. Some objects may not be viewable because they were on loan; this might be due to issues involving image rights or simply because there is no digitized image for the objects.

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At the turn of the 20th century, the intersection of botanical study with design practice stimulated an array of plant forms and motifs in furnishings, glassware, ceramics, textiles, and more. Botanical Expressions reveals how designers, inspired by nature and informed by scientific knowledge, created vibrant new designs in America, Britain, France, and the Netherlands. Blossoming vases, plantlike stuctures, fanciful garden illustrations, and a diversity of vegetal and floral patterns reveal how nature and design dynamically merged.

An increasing number of designers, trained as botanists, advocated for the beauty and order of nature’s systems, colors, and patterns. Many manufacturers operated in proximity to gardens for natural study and stocked books of botanical illustrations as resources for their designers. These primary sources, on loan from Smithsonian Libraries, appear alongside the objects they influenced.

Since the 19th century, the garden was often seen as a refuge from industry and a natural source of plenty and pleasure. This history of botanical expressions in design illuminates a reflection on the critical role of nature within our world.

  • Cushion Cover (USA)
  • mercerized cotton embroidery on cotton.
  • Gift of Annie May Hegeman.
  • 1936-5-3
  • This object is part of the Textiles collection.
  • Kettle And Stand (England)
  • copper, brass, ebony (kettle), wrought iron (stand).
  • Museum purchase from the Decorative Arts Acquisition Fund.
  • 1990-167-1-a/d
  • Wellspring Carafe
  • glass, vitreous enamel, gold.
  • Museum purchase from Decorative Arts Association Acquisitions Fund in memory....
  • 1993-78-1
  • This object is part of the Textiles collection.
  • There are 3 images of this object.
  • Rocking Chair
  • steamed, bent sawn oak slats, nailed to bent hickory wood bark-covered branches.
  • 2014-44-1
  • Vase (USA)
  • favrile glass.
  • Gift of Stanley Siegel, from the Stanley Siegel Collection.
  • 1975-32-13
  • Vase (USA)
  • favrile glass.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Georgiana L. McClellan.
  • 1956-66-1
  • Vase (USA)
  • favrile glass.
  • Bequest of Joseph L. Morris.
  • 1966-55-37
  • Desk Set
  • favrile glass, etched bronze.
  • Gift of Mrs. Eric Larrabee.
  • 1997-11-4/9
  • Vase (France)
  • glass, enamel fusions.
  • Gift of Harry C. Sigman.
  • 2013-21-2
  • Vase (France)
  • glass.
  • Gift of the Estate of Max Kobre.
  • 1996-45-11
  • Vase (France)
  • glass.
  • Gift of the Estate of Max Kobre.
  • 1996-45-13
  • Vase (France)
  • etched overlay glass.
  • Gift of Harry Harkness Flagler.
  • 1949-89-2
  • Vase (France)
  • blown, cased, acid etched glass.
  • Gift of the Estate of Max Kobre.
  • 1996-45-17
  • Side Chair (France)
  • pearwood, various woods (marquetry), upholstery (replaced).
  • Gift of Mrs. Jefferson Patterson.
  • 1979-54-1