Marianne North (1830-1890)

Marianne North was an extraordinary botanical painter whose work can be seen en masse in Kew Gardens in London. She was born in Hastings - though the museums there make no mention at all of her - and showed a precocious talent for painting. After her father, an MP, died in 1869, Marianne North spent the rest of her life painting plants and flowers, travelling the world to do so. In 1871 she undertook her first great trip, covering North America, Jamaica and Brazil. A further trip in 1875 started in the Americas, and then went on to Japan, the East Indies, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. She continued to travel until the mid-1880s despite poor health.

Her work is of great botanical interest, because she aimed to depict nature as she saw it, without attempting to sanitise and prettify her work. She presented nearly 850 oil paintings to Kew Gardens in 1882, where they are displayed in a purpose-built gallery.

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