I have a real love for seaweed. I live near a beach that’s often covered in the stuff (we get golden kelp where we are) and I used to be absolutely disgusted by it. To be fair, it’s pretty stinky when it’s been washed up and left to its own devices in the hot sun, and a little unnerving brushing up against your legs in the surf. But UNDERWATER. That’s where the magic is. Did you know that there’s such a thing as a kelp forest? Where the sunlight sparkles through depths of jade and emerald algae, and where marine magic happens.

So what better way to celebrate seaweed and all its unexpected beauty than with a gallery of vintage seaweed illustrations?! No, it’s not just page after page of murky khaki and olive (though I kind of love that). There’s rose, lilac, ruby, emerald and gold!

Most of the images in this gallery are by William Henry Harvey, an Irish botanist and psychologist (seaweed scientist) who used art to communicate and record his discoveries. There’s also David Landsborough, whose illustrations brought a love of seaweed to the general public through his work “British Seaweeds”. By virtue of the passage of time, their works are now in the public domain, so you can download and use these images however you like. Enjoy!

60+ stunning vintage seaweed illustrations

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