Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mr. Mark Laird and his gorgeous book....

I cannot tell you how excited I am for my dear friend Mark Laird. He is the co-author of a wonderful book on the life of the fabulous British aristocrat and artist Mary Delany.

Mrs. Delany and Her Circle, 2009, Yale Press
The cover image is of the botanical Passiflora, one of Mrs. Delany's paper collages/mosaics.

The book will become widely available in November. However, lucky for me, Mark and his wife Sharon dropped by my studio today to show me the newly published copy. The cover is beautiful and the book itself is simply outstanding. It stole my breath away.

THIS is the mesmerising story of the life of one happening woman in the 18th century!

Portrait of Mary Delany at the age of 82 years by John Opie (1782)

Mary's friends included Handel, a close confidante and Jonathan Swift, a neighbour. She was courted by John Wesley and studied drawing with Hogarth and flower drawing with Georg Ehret. 

Need I go on ? Let's see..... she studied painting with Joseph Goupy and, as you have seen above, she had her portrait painted by John Opie.

At the age of 72, Mrs. Delany embarked on a series of beautiful botanical paper mosiacs. Her illustrations of plants and flowers are made entirely of coloured paper. The craftsmanship and detail are so accurate that it's hard to believe that they were created by a 70 year old woman.

Pancratium Maritinum 1778, Mary Delany 
Paper collage botanical illustration

Mrs. Delany produced close to one thousand botanical illustrations in the 10 years that followed. Astounding! There is a wonderful exhibition of her life and work being shown at The Yale Center for British Art from now until January 2010.  

In addition to her paper collages, the exhibition also pays tribute to a woman who led an extraodinary cultural and artistic life.

King George III 
Queen Charlotte

King George the Third and his wife Queen Charlotte were great patrons of Mary's work. She also had a circle of friends that would be the envy of most of us - as noted previously.

One of M.Delany's drawings taken from the book.

Mary was a great woman of letters, skilled at embroidery and shell work, decoupage, and marvelous gardener (A regular 18th century Martha Stewart I should think..... then some!). 

Edmund Burke called her "A woman of fashion for all ages". 

I'd love to see a film of Mary's life and art produced. What do you think ?

Her tools and bag ( a gift from Queen Charlotte).

My warmest congratulations to Mark.

I'm told that this is a most charming exhibition and that there are many good restaurants in that neck of the woods. Doesn't hurt, does it ? Plus all that academia and great buildings. Oooh, sounds fun.

An hour and half train ride from NYC will take you to Yale. Gosh I love train trips. Enough reason for me to go.

A Grand Day Out .....I should think.


  1. Oh, I went to the Yale Center for British Art last December! It was wonderful, and right beside it is the most perfect little European table linen shop (Metaphore).

  2. What a marvelous looking book! Thanks so much for the heads up.
    She ran with quite an impressive crowd, didn't she?

  3. Must be a wonderful book!
    And I also love the potraits you have showed here in your post!


  4. Another amazing post! I love the Yale Center for British Art. I was just there in July to see their Constables and Turners, and I was really impressed by their collections. I hope I can make it down to see this exhibition. Oh, and you've given me another book to put on my list of must haves! Mrs. Delany's work is stunning. xo

  5. After reading your blog about Mrs. Delany how appropriate that the cover photo should be that of a Passion flower. Exquisite! It most definitely sounds like a worthwhile visit to Yale! Congratulations to your friend.

  6. hello from across the land ~
    i am elated and most grateful to find you today from the sweet gigi at the magpie's fancy ...
    initially i visited your web site ~ gorgeous site and such eloquent work you do!
    now i am delighting in your blog and this magnificent book of mrs. delany's works ... completely alluring with a style so refined ... i agree with gigi ~ a must have book!
    happy thanksgiving to you and yours,
    ps. i began a 'flowers for friday' on my blog this summer, featuring my own garden flowers, but am now embarking on featuring a 'new variety' with the turning of the season ~ would you mind if i featured your wild thyme site and images from there?

  7. Oh my goodness Prairie Girl, I've not been blogging for a few days and have just checked in. Thank you so much for visiting. I would be totally thrilled to be included in your Friday flower series. Sweet ! Thank you. Must go now and check out your garden flowers on your blog......



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