Recording Southern New Mexico: The Botanical Drawings of Edward Skeats

On view in the Van Deren Coke Gallery
February 3 – May 13, 2017
with an opening reception, Friday, February 3, 6 – 8 pm

Curated by Joyce Szabo, Ph.D., Guest Curator, University of New Mexico Art Museum, and Professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico

Edward Miall Skeats (1858 – 1928) was a chemist, a geologist, an engineer, and, according to his son, a pioneer at heart. He was also an amateur artist who recorded much of the plant life near what is now Carlsbad, New Mexico, in the late nineteenth and very early years of the twentieth centuries. Skeats’ son Arthur gave fifty-nine of his father’s watercolors to the University of New Mexico Art Museum in 1966. While a few of these images have been on exhibit here and at the Harwood Museum in Taos, this is the first time a significant number of them have been shown together in a solo exhibition.

Skeats’ keen observational skills were developed through his scientific background. Thus his works fall squarely in the genre of botanical drawings rather than botanical art which, as has been noted, focuses on a finished drawing or painting as its sole objective. Botanical drawings are visual records of species with scientific exactitude the goal. However, Skeats’ work clearly encourages aesthetic responses from its viewers.

Edward M. Skeats (American, born England, 1858 – 1928), Pulse Family, Leguminosae, 1897, Watercolor on paper, 13-3/8 x 10 inches, Gift of Arthur Skeats, 66.135.51, Image courtesy Geistlight Photography

Edward M. Skeats (American, born England, 1858 – 1928), Evening Primrose Family, Onagrareae, 1897, Watercolor on paper, 13-3/8 x 10 inches, Gift of Arthur E. Skeats, 66.135.23, Image courtesy Geistlight Photography

Edward M. Skeats (American, born England, 1858 – 1928), Pulse Family, Leguminosae, 1897, Watercolor on paper, 13-3/8 x 10 inches, Gift of Arthur E. Skeats 66.135.54, Image courtesy Geistlight Photography

Edward M. Skeats (American, born England, 1858 – 1928), Bignonia Family, Bignoniaceae, 1897, Watercolor on paper, 13-3/8 x 10 inches, Gift of Arthur E. Skeats, 66.135.5, Image courtesy Geistlight Photography

Main Image:
Edward M. Skeats
(American, born England, 1858 – 1928), Cactus Family, Cactaceae (detail), 1897, Watercolor on paper, 13-3/8 x 10 inches, Gift of Arthur Skeats, 66.135.10, Image courtesy Geistlight Photography
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