Elizabeth Butterworth

 

Originals    Prints

Elizabeth Butterworth is not the first British artist to succeed in capturing on paper the brilliant plumage of Macaws, but with Edward Lear she must be considered one of the best. Certainly she is without rival this century. Her success stems partly from intense powers of observation and party from an encyclopaedic knowledge of her subject. She has bred Macaws, looked after them, fed them and listened to their noisy antics from the first call of the morning to the last shriek at night. She has sketched them in the privacy of her back garden and in their natural state in the rain forests of South America. She has examined the skins of dead birds in natural history museums in London and New York and she could tell you the number of feathers in a tail and the size of a beak to the nearest millimetre.

It is this attention to detail combined with powers of observation that lifts her prints, watercolours and drawings from plain description into the realms of high art. Although she belongs to a distinguished ornithological tradition in which British artists like John Gould and Archibald Thorburn have excelled, she seems closer to a watercolourist like Edward Lear who can be appreciated as an artist on his own level and whose work appeals to collectors who do not know a Macaw from a Toucan. Her realism has surreal or super-real quality, and it is this aspect of her work which caught the eye of critics and curators on both sides of the Atlantic (and in Australia) and which has led to her work being exhibited alongside that by other contemporary artists in prestigious shows in New York, including the survey of contemporary art held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1984

Elizabeth Butterworth was born in Rochdale and began her art studies at the local art school before moving south and completing her training at the Royal College of Art. In 1975 she had her first show with Angela Flowers, a London dealer with an enviable record in spotting young talent. Later she exhibited at Fischer Fine Art and this was followed by other exhibitions in New York, including a show at the Metropolitan Museum. In 1990 she was invited to show her work at the Adelaide Arts Festival.

Alongside her watercolours Elizabeth Butterworth has been a dedicated print-maker and her work featured in three greatly admired publications, Parrots and Cockatoos, published in 1978, Amazon Parrots, published in 1983 and Macaws, published in 1993.

Ian Dunlop, 1993

Publications
1978 Parrots and Cockatoos, Fischer Fine Art, London
1983 Amazon Parrots, Rodolphe d'Erlanger, London
1989 Parrots, Macaws, Cockatoos: The Art of Elizabeth Butterworth, Abrams, New York
1993 Macaws, Rodolphe d'Erlanger, London
2007 The Parrot in Art: From Durer to Elizabeth Butterworth, Richard Verdi, Scala Publications

Collections
American Museum of Natural History, New York
Arizona State University Library, Tempe
Arts Council of Great Britain, London
Barr-Smith Library, University of Adelaide
Bayerische Staatsbibliotek, Munich
British Government Art Collection, Department of National Heritage
British Museum of Natural History, London
Contemporary Arts Society, London
CSO Contemporary Art Collection, London
Doncaster Art Gallery, Yorkshire
Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Howard Tilton Memorial Library, New Orleans
Leicester City Art Gallery, Leicester
Lincoln Park Zoo Library, Chicago
Megill University, Montreal
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas, Venezuela
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Library of Australia, Canberra
Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Robert M Strozier Library, Florida State University
Rosenburg Library, Galveston, Texas
State Library of Southern Australia
Texas Library of Southern Australia
Troy H Middleton Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
University of Georgia Library, Athens, Georgia
University of Stellenbosch Library, South Africa
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Curriculum Vitae

Elizabeth Butterworth was born in Rochdale, Lancashire in 1949. She now lives in Sussex. She is an ornithological artist whose rendering of Macaws was described in 1993 by the art historian and critic Ian Dunlop as "without rival this century".

Between 1966 and 1974 she studied at Rochdale School of Art, Maidstone School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London.

Elizabeth Butterworth's first exhibition at the Redfern was in 1997 - showing again in 2001 and 2009. Also in 2001 she showed Amazons, Macaws and Cockatoos at the Natural History Museum, London. She has had five solo shows in the USA including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1985 and has also shown her work in Ireland and Australia.

Her work is in over twenty-five institutions - museums, libraries contemporary art collections, public art galleries and university collections - in England, USA, Australia, Germany, Canada, Venezuela and South Africa. 

Solo Exhibitions

1975 Angela Flowers Gallery, London
1976 Park Square Gallery, Leeds
1978 Fischer Fine Art, London
1979 Ladd Lane Gallery, Dublin
1981 Fischer Fine Art, London
1983 Artis Group, New York
1985 Mezzanine Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
1990 Adelaide Arts Festival
1993 Graham Modern, New York
1993 John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
1994 Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia
1995 Sotheby's, London
1996 Graham Gallery, New York
1997 Redfern Gallery, London
2001 The Natural History Museum, London: Amazons, Macaws and Cockatoos
2001 Redfern Gallery, London. An exhibition of watercolours and prints
2009 Redfern Gallery, London. Recent Paintings and Drawings

Selected Group Exhibitions

1973 British Drawing 1952-1972, Angela Flowers Gallery, London
1973 British Art Now, Nova-London Fine Art Ltd, Copenhagen
1975 London Group, Camden Arts Centre, London
1975 Printmaking show, Tokyo
1976 Printmakers Workshop, Curzon Gallery, London
1976-83 English Realists-The figurative Approach, Fischer Fine Art, London
1978 The Animal in Art, Royal College of Art, London
1979 De Beers Collection, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
1981 A Penthouse Aviary, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1981 Recent Acquisitions, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1981 8 British Realists, Louis K Meisel, New York
1984 An International Survey of Recent Painting And Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1986 Royal College of Art Conservation Department. Natural History Museum, London
1988 Drawn From Nature, Kyburg Ltd, London
1990 The Rainforest Art Exhibition. Natural History Museum, London
1992 Recent Acquisitions, Contemporary Art Society. Camden Arts Centre, London
1992 Project Venezuela: Art and the Environment. Fundacion Museo de Ciencias, Caracas
1992 Erie Art Museum, Pennsylvania
1998 London Art Fair, Redfern Gallery, London
2001 Florida Art Fair, Redfern Gallery, London
2005 Extinct Species, Doha, Qatar
2007 From Durer to Elizabeth Butterworth, Barber Institute, Birmingham
2008 Master Printer, Hugh Stoneman. Tate St Ives
2012 Government Art Collection. Whitechapel Gallery, London
2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize, travelling exhibition
2013 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition