San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature Connection[BRCC San Diego Natural History Museum: Research Library]
The Valentien Project
The Flora of California
Painting of Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo), by Albert Valentien, © San Diego Natural History Museum

Almost 100 years ago, the artist Albert Valentien began a project that was ten years in the execution. He began his work in 1908, when he was commissioned by Ellen Browning Scripps to paint the wildflowers of California, and the plan was to publish a book of the paintings when he finished. However, in the end Miss Scripps decided the cost was too prohibitive and Valentien's hope of seeing his work reproduced and admired by a large audience was dashed. In 2000, thanks to the commitment and wonderful generosity of Eleanor and Jerome Navarra, the Valentien Project, which would entail photographing, conserving, cataloging, and eventually exhibiting the collection, began.

The Valentien watercolor collection has been a treasured part of the Museum's holdings since 1933, when they were donated to the Museum Library from Miss Scripps' estate. Through all these years, the collection has been seen by only a few fortunate people, who longed to share the breathtaking freshness and liveliness of these "plant portraits," as Mr. Valentien called them, with the public.


The Artist

The History of the Paintings

Exhibiting the Paintings: Plant Portraits

Valentien Signature Products

A.R. Valentien signature

Fouquieria splendens (Ocotillo)
Painted by Albert Valentien, © San Diego Natural History Museum