Interpretations of Mary Granville Delaney's work focus too much on the age at which she began her paper collages as if she woke up one morning at the age of 72 and a vision started pasting up geraniums of red paper. This view diminishes her intellect, her life history and her talents. The view of Mrs Delany as a late bloomer ignores her previous history of botanical interests, natural illustration, collage in any form such as architectnural mosaics, Japan work and paper cut out illustration and completely ignores the exalted social and scientific context in which she worked.
She is not the Grandma Moses of 18th century England.
We have seen in her life story while stitching our BOM that she did extraordinary botanical illustration in silk embroidery in her 30s (and probably throughout her life until her coordination and vision faded) and she'd spent her most active years climbing scaffolding to glue an impressive collection of shells to various fireplaces, walls, ceilings and window frames.
June's block explores the scientific context in which she lived and worked, particularly at Bulstrode Park, Margaret Duchess of Portland's summer refuge for artists, intellectuals and particularly natural scientists
When Mary returned to England as the widow Delany she joined Margaret's Hive about 1770. Several women and men spent extended visits. Two lauded scientists were Daniel Solander (1733-1782) and Joseph Banks, close friends who wokred in her collections, which were essentially a private museum. In 1771 scientists Banks and Solander returned from a three-year voyage with Captain James Cook on the first HMS Endeavor voyage to the southern Pacific.
Sydney Parkinson artist accompanied the voyage. hired Margaret hired Banks (1743-1820)
cataloguing her collections in his spare time from a position at the British Museum and adding to them with floral specimens he'd found for the garden. As Solander catalogued he wokred on his revision of the standard Linneaean Systema Naturae.
Dr. Jospeh Banks (1743-1820)
syndney parkinson (1745 - 1771)
At least as early as 1765, the Duchess of Portland had swept Solander into her orbit. Gaughan cited a letter English naturalist Peter Collinson (1694 – 1769) wrote to Linnaeus on May 1, 1765, in which he reported that “Dr. Solander goes on very successfully at the [British] Musæum, and has been lately much engaged in surveying the Duchess of Portland’s Musæum, where there is a very great collection of shells and marine productions, gems and precious stones.” (A Selection of the Correspondence of Linnaeus, and Other Naturalists From the Original Manuscripts, James Edward Smith, ed., 1821, p. 65.)
Presumably it was after his return in 1771 from his nearly three-year journey on the first of Captain Cook’s voyages of exploration, that Solander began to work on the Duchess’ collection seriously, devoting one day a week, reportedly Tuesdays, to the task of describing and cataloguing. This was in addition to his obligations at the British Museum where, by 1773, he had been made “keeper of the printed books,” as well as his responsibilities to Sir Joseph Banks (1743 – 1820), for whom he was librarian and curator of the Banks natural history collection. Solander may have been prompted to invest his energy in the Portland collection because he contemplated updating the Linnaean Systema Naturae. (See, The Collector’s Voice, Critical Readings in the Practice of Collecting, Volume 2, 2000, by Susan M. Pearce and Ken Arnold, p. 139-140. They posited that his work on the collection began in 1778.)
After her death, the sale of her collection lasted for thirty-eight days.
n 1771 Joseph Banks Joseph Banks.
Date of birth, 24 February 1743, (cat. ... Eighty-four plants were provided by Sir Joseph Banks from the Queen's garden at Kew.
daniel solander donated dowager many exotic plants de
The botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander donated many exotic plants to the Dowager such that the gardens became famous for their varieties of flora.
One further aspect of 18 century botanical art to consider is the trend, already mentioned in the case of Aubriet and Tournefort, to include artists along with naturalists on expeditions to little known parts of the world. When James Cook sailed on his first round-the-world voyage, Joseph Banks and Linnaeus’s student Daniel Solander collected and described plant specimens, and the artist Sydney Parkinson created over 900 drawings of them (Banks et al., 1980).
'This is possibly '
Spiraea laevigata, which was introduced from Siberia by Daniel Solander in 1774
he Bulstrode Siren depicts the Duke of Portland sitting and listening with rapt attention to the famous opera singer, Elizabeth Billington who at the time of this print was, according to Wright and Evans, "residing with" the Duke at his mansion at Bulstrode.