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The Fitzwilliam Museum has one of the most significant collections of flower paintings and botanical drawings and watercolours in the world. This is due to the generous gift, then bequest of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Lord Fairhaven (1900-1973) who presented over 100 paintings, many floral miniatures, over 900 drawings and watercolours as well as 38 albums to the Museum during his lifetime and upon his death. Artists represented in the collection range from Dutch, Flemish and German to British, French and Chinese, and span from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The paintings include works by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Younger, Jacob and Jan van Huysum, Paulus Theodorus van Brussel, Rachel Ruysch and Daniel Seghers, while the works on paper represent masters of botanical painting such as Jacob Marrel, Georg Dionysius Ehret, the Dietzsch family, Pierre-Joseph Redouté and Nicolas Robert.
In recent years, projects have revolved around Redouté, British flower painters, the depiction of exotic plants and male versus female painters. Current research is looking more closely at the insects depicted within these watercolours, as well as botanical drawings of carnivorous plants and those that mimic insects to attract insects which will be presented in the forthcoming exhibition Crawling with Life in the Shiba Gallery (2 February-8 May 2016). 
In addition to the Broughton bequest, the collection includes a significant number of watercolours by the first German 17th-century female entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian and the talented Flemish painter of insects, Jan van Kessel. The collection as a whole therefore provides endless opportunities for special exhibitions, research and collaboration with partners such as Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, the Museum of Zoology and the Whipple Museum, and reveals much about the development of flower painting, the role of botanical drawings in an age of scientific discovery, the relationship between art and science, and the collecting of such artworks from the 17th through to the 20th century.