THE ART OF MARY DELANY

Molly Peacocks book “The Paper Garden” – a biography of an extraordinary eighteenth-century woman.

images via British Museum

“Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700-1788) was the witty, beautiful, and talented daughter of a minor branch of a powerful family. Married off at seventeen to a sixty-on-year-old drunken squire to improve the family fortunes, then widowed by twenty-five, she would spurn many suitors over the next twenty years, including the charismatic Lord Baltimore, but she also refused to ritire to a quiet, pensioned existence. She cultivated a wide circle of friends, including Handel and Jonathan Swift. And she painted, she stitched, she observed, as she swirled in the outskirts of the Georgian court. In mid-life, she finally found love, and married again.”

Upon her second husband’s death twenty-three years later, she arose from her grief, picked up a pair of scissors and, at the age of seventy-two, created a new art form, mixed-media collage. Over the next decade, Mrs. Delany created an astonishing 985 botanically correct, breathtaking cut-paper flowers, now housed in the British Museum and referred to as the Flora Delanica.”

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