The Flower Hunter: Ellis Rowan (1848-1922)

6 March - 25 April 2004

A National Library of Australia Travelling Exhibition

From the 1870s to the 1920s, at a time when travel was rough and dangerous, especially for women, Ellis Rowan searched the world to paint exotic flowers, plants, birds and butterflies. She went to remote parts of Australia, Papua, New Guinea, New Zealand, the Caribbean and the United States, overcoming great physical challenges to locate and paint as many unknown specimens as possible.

Rowan was acclaimed internationally during her life but has slipped into obscurity in the last fifty years. This exhibition will rekindle interest in her life and work. Drawn mainly from the extensive collection of her work in the National Library of Australia, over 100 works are displayed, ranging from delicate botanical watercolours to flamboyant images of tropical flora and fauna.

Visit the online exhibition at:

Pandanus with Brown Butterfly
c. 1916-17

Gymea Lily
c. 1887-89


Crinum longiflora

Blue Bird of Paradise
c. 1917