The feature image for the Botanical Art and Artists website and Facebook Page for Summer 2021 is this image of Crinium Augustum [Queen Emma] by Mrs Priscilla Bury (1799 - 1872)
This post is about Mrs Bury and her very impressive book about hexandrian plants i.e. plants with six stamens called "A selection of hexandrian plants, belonging to the natural orders Amaryllidæ and Liliacæ, from drawings by Mrs. Edward Bury, Liverpool"
About Mrs Priscilla Bury (1799-1872)
Priscilla Susan Falkner was born in Liverpool. She was the daughter of a rich Liverpool merchant whose estate outside the city at Fairfields 'boasted a garden with many rare and exotic plants' (Tomasi).
As a young woman she was an enthusiastic botanist and flower painter and was particularly interested in lilies and allied flowers. She had no pretensions as to scientific knowledge and, in effect, was a very talented amateur.
By 1829, (age 30) she had produced a number of paintings of hexandrian plants, which she wished to publish.
In 1830, Falkner married Edward Bury F.R.S. (1794-1858), a wealthy and ingenious railway engineer and she had three sons - and her paintings were transcribed by Robert Havell into engravings. (Havel was also responsible for his engravings for John James Audubon).
Following the publication of Hexandrian Plants, Priscilla Bury continued to contribute illustrations to botanical works including
Between 1852 and 1860 the family lived at Hillsborough Hall near Sheffield and later moved to Croft Lodge, Ambleside in the Lake District. By 1866 she was living at Fairfield, Thornton Heath, Croydon. She died at Fairfield on 8 March 1872 of bronchitis and cerebral congestion.
About "A Selection of Hexandrian Plants"
Mrs Bury's place in botanical art history is due to her flower paintings which were published - as engravings - in A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidae and Liliacae in London by Robert Havell the younger, [plates watermarked 1831-1834].
There were 79 subscribers to this book and hence this is now a rare book of some significance. A copy of her book was auctioned at Christies in 2001 and fetched £75,250. Wilfrid Blunt described it (in The Art of Botanical Illustration) as
"one of the most effective colour-plate folios of the period"
For me, I think her book is an excellent teaching aid in relation to those wanting to learn about composition. Note her technique - subsequently replicated by Pandora Sellars - of putting her light coloured blooms against the dark leaves of her hexaodrian plants so that they can be seen much more clearly.
All the good techniques are there in past paintings. You just need to study the past to learn a lot about what does and does not work in relation to telling the story of a plant within the context of botanical art and illustration.
How to see her book
You can see examples of the images from the book in various online collections of botanical images, namely:
There are copies of the book in the libraries of:
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Katherine Tyrrell writes about botanical art and artists and has followers all over the world. You can also find her at linktr.ee
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