Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Marianne North: Botanical Artist & Exceptional Victorian

 It seems that Spring is really busting out all over - most especially here in the PNW. It's definitely a time of celebration as daffodils, crocus and snowdrops are all poking out of the ground as a wonderful welcome to the season. 


It seems a perfect time to share an artist, who did so much for all botanical life. Marianne North, (1830-1890) was a prolific biologist and botanical artist in the Victorian Era. Unlike what was expected to be the life of a woman during that era, North took a different direction.


In fact, North not only traveled solo, but also studied plants all over the world. She described everything from the Redwoods of California to the Borneo pitcher plants. She was determined to paint as many plants in the world as she could.



Her inspiration for traveling, describing and painting as much 

 as she could was inspired by her visits to Royal Botanical Kew Gardens - located in London and home of trees and flowers from around the world. Here again, her direction separated her from the artists of the era.


 Whereas, it was the style to paint flora in watercolors with a light background to show the flowers as natural as possible. North chose to paint with oils in order to increase vibrancy and impact. She also preferred to create the background in which these flora were living. It was considered a bold and bright style not seen before.



Along her travels, she discovered flora unknown at the time. She kept careful notes to advance botanical science. Today, the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens contains 800 of her paintings!




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