Esmée Somers Winkel
Scientific Illustrator & Botanical Artist

Home Biography

Foto Esmée Somers Winkel
"Growing up on a beautiful Caribbean island, I developed a vast interest in nature. So I moved to the Netherlands to study Biology at the Leiden University. After having received my BSc degree I studied at the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design and Maastricht University, taking a course in Master Scientific Illustration. Since 2008 I have been working as a scientific illustrator and botanical artist for Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the Dutch research institute and Natural history museum in Leiden. Quite often you will also find me browsing through and drawing fascinating and unique plants at the Hortus Botanicus Leiden. The techniques I use are: pen and ink, watercolour, pencil and digital drawing programs."

About my art:

"Botanical paintings and Scientific Illustrations have an important role in the publications and theses of researchers. The aim of these illustrations is to register, preserve detailed information and report with the results of research in scientific journals and/or floras. By illustrating for among others students, PhD candidates, Postdocs and senior researchers I aim at making a large contribution to Science and to botany in particular.
There still is no better way to capture the essence of a living plant or animal then by drawing or painting. Despite the great techniques of modern photography only with an illustration a reconstruction of a damaged plant or dried herbarium material is possible for example.

This form of art also captures the beauty of plants, portraying their magnificence and splendour, the many wonderful details and the enormous variety in form and colour. Botanical art is a powerful way to connect people with their environment and its plant life. So by exhibiting internationally, giving workshops, lectures and demonstrations, I believe that the awareness of scientific illustration and botanical art will grow and in this way underline the importance of studying nature.

For an elaborate interview with the ASBA please click here."

Memberships and Collections:

"I am a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London,
a member of the Dutch Society of Botanical Artists,
the American Society of Botanical Artists,
the Wiener Schule der botanischen Illustration,
the Association of British Botanical Artists,
the Société Française d’Illustration Botanique and
the Dutch Orchid Society.

My work is included in the permanent collections of Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Hortus botanicus Leiden, Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Focus on Nature New York State Museum, the RHS Lindley Library and in private (and Royal) collections."


2018:  Gold Medal, Royal Horticultural Society, London, for 6 watercolours of Ophrys species.
2017:  Margaret Flockton Award, Second Prize, for an illustration of Monanthotaxis pynaertii.
2016:  ASBA Botanical Illustrator Award for Excellence in Scientific Botanical Art.
2016:  Hermine van Bers Beeldende Kunstprijs, Honourable mention.
2016:  Gold Medal, Royal Horticultural Society, London, for 6 scientific illustrations.
2014:  Jill Smythies Award, The Linnean Society of London.
2013:  Gold Medal, Royal Horticultural Society, London, for 6 scientific illustrations.
2012:  Gold Medal, Biscot, Edinburgh, Scotland, for 8 scientific illustrations.
2012:  Jury award, ‘Focus on Nature’ exhibition, New York State Museum, USA, for an illustration of the reproductive system of dragonflies.