QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Friday, January 15, 2021

Flora Delanica #4: Spanish Iris


Flora Delanica #4 Spanish Iris
(Iris Xiphium) by Becky Brown

Spanish iris, unlike most plants we call iris, grow from bulbs rather than rhizomes, blooming in single blessedness, the perfect flower to recall Mary Delany's years as a young widow.

"Her stature was in middle proportion...every part and proportion perfect in their kind, fitted alike for activity and strength. Her walk was graceful, beyond anything that ever I saw in woman." ...Patrick Delany.
The widow Pendarves floated festively though those years in the 1720s and '30s, an ornament to a rather stiff German court ruled by King George II, second of Britain's Georgian kings. George II & his Queen Caroline tried to make the court a more glamorous place with regular Sunday drawing room events and ceremonial occasions requiring luxurious dress. The Queen took notice of Mary's clothing (probably ornamented by Mary herself) and complimented her.

King George II
"In private life he would have been called an honest blockhead..."
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737)

Queen Caroline shows us the ermine trim and metallic embroidery on her court dress. The embroidery is stitched of gold and silver threads. Fashion at the time was so valuable that King Louis XIV had the stitching on the French court's royal garments melted down to pay for his foreign wars.

Metallic embroidery

As the great niece of an earl Mary Granville Pendarves enjoyed a birth right to the beau monde despite her lack of husband and fortune. Her income was enough to finance a modest life about town and country with the help of friends and family as the season dictated. 


Nancy Phillips #4 in wool

She spent many of those years living on London's Brook Street with her Aunt Anne Granville, Lady Stanley, the former lady in Queen Mary's court who had done much to raise her. Mary's well-loved younger sister Anne and brother Bernard (Bunny) offered diversions and affection.

Handel's neighboring home on Brook Street still stands.

Several rich friends enjoyed her company so much that she was able to move in rather exalted circles. Close companions included Henrietta, Lady Oxford, her daughter Margaret, Duchess of Portland and Anne Donnellen. She and Anne, an accomplished singer, often played and sang neighbor George Frideric Handel's new compositions for him.


About 1740, four friends had miniature portraits painted by Christian Friedrich Zincke to be formed into a small gold box. Clockwise from top left: Elizabeth Montagu, unknown, Mary Pendarves, and Margaret, Duchess of Portland. The unknown woman may be Anne Donnellen. This hinged box sold at Christies about 20 years ago for £56,400.

Friends and associates included not only Handel, but essayist Jonathan Swift, artist William Hogarth, intellectual salonist Elizabeth Robinson Montagu and philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. (Well, I'd guess she didn't care for Rousseau, friend and neighbor of her brother and Margaret, because she considered his ideas far too liberal.) She spent time discussing religion with Methodist John Wesley and his brother when she was young. Their thoughts were more in concert with hers.


Ellen T. Harris has plotted Handel's St. George Hanover Square neighbors including Mrs Delany in a 2015 paper Discovering Handel’s London through  His Music Presentations.

Handel with his first patron King George I in 1717.
Are those the royal mistresses known as the maypole and the elephant on the boat?

As an accomplished harpsichordist, conversationalist and artist Mary was never at a loss for an evening out---or an evening in, hosting musical evenings at home with her Stanley Aunt and Uncle. Did she miss one Handel concert in London when she was in town?

Charles Calvert 1699-1751

She also did not lack for suitors. One persistent peer was Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, absentee governor of the Maryland colony. Mary found his American possession amusing and referred to him as her American Prince. When their relationship was finally over, his marriage to another caused enough pain and social awkwardness that she and her friend Anne Donnellen planned a long trip to Ireland to visit Anne's relations in the early 1830s.

Iris Xiphium by Mary Delany
To see the paper mosaick scroll down here:

Marriage and the men of England held few charms for her:
"Moneyed men are most of them covetous, disagreeable wretches; fine men with titles and estates are coxcombs; those of real merit are seldom to be found."

Spanish Iris in my garden last spring

The Block
#4 Iris


Applique on the diagonal to an square cut 10-1/2" or on the vertical center of a rectangle cut 9-1/2" x 12-1/2".


One Way to Print the Pattern:

Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". Note the inch square block for reference.
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.

Flora Delanica #4 Spanish Iris
(Iris Xiphium) by Barbara Brackman

#4 by Ilyse Moore, wool on linen.

A Little More Mary Delany

Scarlet Geranium from South Africa (Geran: Inquinans)

Further Reading & Viewing

Read about Mary Pendarves and George Frideric Handel in Ellen T. Harris's article "Discovering Handel's London Through His Music."

Read a lot more in Jane Glover's Handel in London. Preview here:

And Ellen T. Harris's' George Frideric Handel: A Life With Friends:
Mary, a close friend, is a major source about the composer's life.

Lucy Worsley has done one of her signature BBC series on the First Georgians: The German Kings Who Made Britain.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01wq5xr

1 comment:

QuiltGranma said...

It continues to amaze me how much info you can dig up!