Monday, June 15, 2020

Flora Delanica #9 Botanizing poppiesxxx

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 18th 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.

A large estate of many acres, the park was renowned for its formal landscaped gardens. According to Repton, there were a botanic garden, flower garden, kitchen garden, ancient garden, American garden, shrubbery and parterre. In some unknown place there was an allee of lime fruit trees. While there is no listing of the plants in Bulstrode we can be sure that Margaret had one specimen of every plant available. Margaret built greenhouses, an aviary and a zoo to house the innumerable animals. There was also a pond and a shell grotto that Margaret and Mary Delany built with the shells they collected.
Margaret’s greatest interest was botany. This was not unusual for the time as women were encouraged to find interest in natural history in the eighteenth century. What was unusual was the Duchess’s depth of knowledge and involvement in botanical research. Margaret had cultivated an impressive, and from today’s perspective,a very distinctive number of friends in the field of science. Margaret employed the Swedish botanist Daniel Solander to catalogue her botanical collections using Linnaeus’s classification. Solander was a student of Carolus Linnaeus and was part of the entourage of Joseph Banks’ trip with James Cook’s first Endeavour voyage.  Joseph Banks was known to have brought back new plant specimens from North America for the Duchess. Others included John Lightfoot her personal chaplain and conchologist, Philip Miller the chief gardener of the Chelsea Physick Garden, and Georg Dionysus Ehret a German botanical illustrator who Margaret hired to engrave the native plants in her flower gardens, as well as, teach drawing to her daughters.

In 1766 Margaret was introduced to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, through Mary Delany’s brother, Bernard Granville. Rousseau was a philosopher and his interest in botany helped to popularize natural history in eighteenth century Europe, America and Great Britain. Rousseau did not hold women high in his esteem. He believed that they were incapable of abstract thought in the sciences and should instead concentrate on matters of practical reason. Despite his beliefs, Rousseau appointed himself as the Duchess’s ‘herborist’ collecting and preserving plants for her. He seems to have held the Duchess in high esteem as he refers to her as his botany teacher and testifies that her botanical knowledge is far superior to his own.
Margaret lived a full and busy life. She must have loved life as she delved into its mysteries one shell, flower, and art piece at a time. Family was important to her, as well as, all the scientific friends and acquaintances she cultivated in order to pursue and fulfill her life’s objective “to have had every unknown species described and published to the World”, according to John Lightfoot. While she never published any of her findings (she left that to others) Margaret did leave behind notebooks and letters documenting her vast knowledge. The Portland name was given to a moth, a rose and an ancient glass vase, in her honour. It is her vast collections of natural history that she is best remembered and the gardens of Bulstrode that housed them.

Daniel Carlsson Solander or Daniel Charles Solander (19 February 1733 – 13 May 1782)
n 1768, Solander gained leave of absence from the British Museum and with his assistant Herman Spöring accompanied Joseph Banks on James Cook's first voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Endeavour. They were the botanists who inspired the name Botanist Bay (which later became Botany Bay) for the first landing place of Cook's expedition in Australia. Solander helped make and describe an important collection of Australian plants while the Endeavour was beached at the site of present-day Cooktown for nearly seven weeks, after being damaged on the Great Barrier Reef. These collections later formed the basis of Banks' Florilegium.
On 17 December 1771, Mrs Delany wrote enthusiastically to her brother Bernard Granville about a visit she had made with the duchess: ‘We were yesterday together at Mr Banks’s to see some of the fruits of his travels, and were quite delighted with paintings of the Otaheite plants, quite different from anything the Duchess ever saw, so they must be very new to me! … Most of the views Mr Banks and Dr Solander brought over were gone to be engraven for the history of their travels to come out next year; the Natural History will not come out till three years hence, that is, not till they return again.’ (Banks was planning to accompany Cook on a further voyage: this did not in fact happen, and Banks’ own journal of the 1768–71 voyage was not published until 1896.) On 18 December, Delany refers to the same visit in a letter to her niece Mary Port: ‘a charming entertainment of oddities, but not half time enough’.
The last post was on the enthusiasm for gardening that flourished in the 18th century.  One aspect of this trend was the increasing interest in horticulture among women, especially those with the wealth to satisfy it.  A prominent example was Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (1715-1785).  She was curious about all aspects of natural history and was an prodigious collector not only of animals, plants, and minerals, but also of paintings and the decorative arts.  After her husband’s death in 1762, she devoted more time to bringing exotic plants to the gardens of her estate at Bulstrode Park and learning as much as she could about natural history.  She had impressive collections in conchology, entomology, and ornithology, but I’ll concentrate on the plants.  Bentinck knew Peter Collinson (see last post) and received North American plants from him.  He also suggested that she hire Daniel SolanderCarl Linnaeus’s former student who had recently arrived from Sweden, to arrange her collections according to the Linnaean system.  She may have had massive numbers of organisms, but unlike many other collectors, they were well-organized (Laird, 2015).
Bentinck also hired another émigré, the botanical artist Georg Ehret, not only to paint plants she grew, but also to teach art to her daughters.  Another member of her household was the Reverend John Lightfoot, who served as chaplain and naturalist, giving special attention to her shells and plants.  She financed his collecting in various parts of Britain and took botany lessons from him.  The duchess was obviously more than just a plant lover; she had a sophisticated appreciation of botany, and not surprisingly, kept a herbarium.  In fact, none other than the French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, gave her two portable herbaria.
Portland roses apparently originated from natural crosses between Damasks and Chinas.
Joseph Banks' Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cook's First Voyage
​by David MabberleyMel GoodingJoseph Studholme

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