Marianne North - Encyclopedia




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MARIANNE NORTH (1830-1890), English naturalist and flower-painter, was born at Hastings on the 24th of October 1830, the eldest daughter of a Norfolk landowner, descended from Roger North (1653-1734). She trained as a vocalist under Madame Sainton Dolby, but her voice failed, and she then devoted herself to painting flowers. After the death of her mother in 1855 she constantly travelled with her father, who was then member of parliament for Hastings; and on his death in 1869 she resolved to realize her early ambition of painting the flora of distant countries. In1871-1872with this object she went to Canada, the United States and Jamaica, and spent a year in Brazil, where she did much of her work at a hut in the depths of a forest. In 1875, after a few months at Teneriffe, she began a journey round the world, and for two years was occupied in painting the flora of California, Japan, Borneo, Java and Ceylon. The year 1878 she spent in India, and after her return she exhibited a number of her drawings in London. Her subsequent offer to present the collection to the botanical gardens at Kew, and to erect a gallery for their reception, was accepted, and the new buildings, designed by James Ferguson, were begun in the same year. At Darwin's suggestion she went to Australia in 1880, and for a year painted there and in New Zealand. Her gallery at Kew was opened in 1882. In 1883, after a visit by her to South Africa, an additional room was opened at the Kew gallery, and in1884-1885she worked at Seychelles and in Chile. Miss North diedatAlderly in Gloucestershire on the 30thof August 1890. The scientific accuracy with which she represented plant life in all parts of the world gives her work a permanent value.

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