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Jeanne Russell Janish - Biographical notes
by Elizabeth Warren
The art of Jeanne Russell Janish, illustrator, is currently featured in a virtual exhibit on the UNLV Libraries website and may be viewed online at Jeanne Russell Jannish -- Botanical Illustrator.
Jeanne Russell Janish graduated from Vassar College in 1924, and completed her M.S. at Stanford University in 1926. She was the first woman graduate to earn an advanced degree in geology. At Stanford, she was appointed official illustrator for the departments of botany, geology, and biology. During her several years there in that capacity, she produced illustrations for L. Abram's Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States. Subsequently she journeyed with her cousin to China for a short visit, but stayed five years, returning to the U.S. in 1934 accompanied by her new husband, Carl Janish. While in China she designed rugs, sketched people and scenes in and around Peking (Beijing), and made numerous watercolors of local landscapes, including The Forbidden City. It is these works which form the body of this exhibit, which also includes photographs, personal memorabilia, and field sketches of plant specimens.
During her lifetime, Janish produced some 11,500 illustrations for 32 major books and many shorter works in biology, geology, and botany. She was termed an illustrator "par excellence" by one biographer, and a species of beardtongue (Penstemon janishiae) was named in her honor by New York Botanical Garden. A few years ago, Janish donated most of her pen and ink illustrations to the Garden's archive.
Jeanne and Carl Janish lived in Las Vegas after their return from China. They actively pursued their interests in archaeology, botany, illustrating and painting throughout their years here. Jeanne died in Las Vegas on Wednesday, February 4, 1998, happy in the knowledge that her life and work would not go unnoticed.