Marianne North was one of those intrepid Victorian women. She travelled the globe in her quest to seek out flora to satisfy her passion to paint them. In 1871, and already aged 40, she spent the next 13 years travelling, and so began her incredible collection of nearly 900 paintings.
She visited America, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil, Tenerife, Japan, Singapore, Sarawak, Java, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Seychelles, Borneo and Chile. Often she was away for long periods at a time. She spent 18 months visiting various regions of India; in Brazil she spent 13 months travelling into the interior and making long and arduous journeys across very rough terrain.
Her name is perhaps more familiar in Brazil than in the UK, where they often use her flower paintings to adorn their stamps. Perhaps the main reason for her name being unknown to many here is because she painted for her own delight and pleasure. She was descended from Lord North, Prime Minister 1770 - 82, and she received a large legacy from her own father when he died. Her paintings never appear on the market, she had no need to sell them, so she donated them to Kew Gardens. There they have a special Marianne North Gallery building in the grounds, which is full of her paintings. The building has recently been restored at a cost of over 3 million pounds, and is well worth a visit.
|Interior of one of the gallery rooms before restoration.|
|Nepenthes northiana - named after Marianne|
images via Wikipedia