Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Remarkable Mrs Delany

Gloriosa Superba (Hexandria Monogynia), formerly in an album (Vol.IV, 96) Collage of coloured papers, with bodycolour and watercolour, on black ink background by Mary Delany (from the British Museum Collection).
Mary Delany began making paper collages, or ‘paper mosaicks' as she called them in 1771, at the age of 72. The idea came to her while staying with her companion, Margaret Bentinck, duchess of Portland, at Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire. She had noticed the similarity of colour between a geranium and a piece of red paper that was on her bedside table. Taking up her scissors she imitated the petals.

Her collages were botanically precise and correct, made from paper that she often dyed herself, and were mounted on a black background. She went on to create almost 1000 paper mosaicks up until her eyesight began to fail at the age of 83. These collages were bequeathed to the British Museum.

In addition to her collages she was also a keen gardener, a talented embroiderer and a tireless letter writer. Her art included oils, watercolours and pen-and-ink landscapes, with many of the latter housed at the National Gallery in Ireland.
Mesembrianthemum, Aureum Solandri, formerly in an album (Vol.V, 78). 1780 Collage of coloured papers, with bodycolour and watercolour, on black ink background by Mary Delany (from the British Museum Collection)


See more of the collection at the British Museum Online here.
Read more about this remarkable artist here.