Drawings from Nature


Drawings from Nature



Knowledge and memory management institutions (libraries, archives and museums) usually organize their documents —any element capable of transmitting information of some kind— according to generic criteria, such as material or format.

However, they sometimes group their items into collections defined according to broader categories. This is the case of the art collection housed in the Charles Darwin Foundation's (CDF) archive, which includes pencil and ink drawings, sketches, and some watercolors and washes.

Most of these works, donated by their authors, are original, and in some specific cases they have not been published or reproduced, which makes them unique. Likewise, practically all the authors of the drawings are women: this makes the collection a predominantly female production.

Probably the artist who has contributed the most to this collection —and to Galapagoan naturalist illustration— has been the Ecuadorian Sara Santacruz. While she illustrated much of the terrestrial biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands, her most abundant work focused on native plants. Her drawings, in ink and in color, illustrated the book Galápagos, nuestras islas, among others. In the art collection, her preserved notes and sketches also refer to animals, iconic landscapes of the archipelago, the human geography of the islands and the practices of its inhabitants. Likewise, she made diagrams and maps, destined to complete articles and educational campaigns.

Her most unknown facet is reflected in a small folder entitled "Various", where some past CDF archivist collected a series of comic vignettes by Sara, referring to daily situations experienced within the Charles Darwin Station.

Another artist whose drawings are in the CDF's archive is Katie Lee, who around 1988 prepared a book entitled Galapagos, the mystical islands, with ink and watercolor illustrations that tried to account for the Galapagos fauna. The project ultimately fell through, but a few years later Lee published A visit to Galapagos, populated with wonderful hand-produced images.

The art collection also includes sample portfolios of artists such as Kay Dodge (with a magnificent illustration of a frigate with its chick), Antonia Philips, Jorge Sotomayor (author of works drawn on a black background and numerous architectural sketches of the Charles Darwin Station) or Sam Bower, all of them composed of drawings or sketches made in ink.

There were (and still are) numerous artists who worked in the Galapagos: their drawings and paintings have remained in many of the books that rest on the shelves of the CDF Library. And they probably will continue to be. For in the archipelago there will always be reasons to continue making drawings from nature.


  Lee, Katie (1994). A visit to Galápagos. USA: Harry Adams Inc.
  Vv.Aa. (1994). Galápagos, nuestras islas. Quito: Fundación Charles Darwin.


Aa.Vv. [Drawings]. [Artwork]. [N.d.] : Aa.Vv., [ca1990]. [N.d.] : b/w ill. : [n.d.]. DDC 508. Well preserved.

  Subject categories: Natural history
  Keywords: Artwork | Drawings | Illustrations
  Time framework: 1990


Text & picture: (edgardo.civallero@fcdarwin.org.ec).
Publication date: 1 December 2021
Last update: 1 December 2021