Mary Delany…became an artist at the age of 72

Day 13 exploring the colours of an amazing collage artist….

Today I discovered an artist I had never heard of before. I have come across quite a few new female artists in the past few years. This is the first one I know of who began her art at the age of 72 and was born more than 300 years ago!

Her name is Mary Delany and she lived in England. Her flowers look as though they are skilfully constructed with watercolour, but they are in fact made out of coloured paper, hundreds and hundreds of carefully drawn and cut out pieces that exactly match the botanical likeness of every flower she copied.

She told her niece that she had found a ‘new way of imitating flowers’ and she called it ‘mosaick’ work.

Fabulously rich shades of crimson

She worked on a black background and layered small pieces over larger pieces to create the lifelike tones and shades. A botanist saw her work first hand and described it as stunningly accurate.

Such subtle layers and shades of pink

Each flower was given its Latin name and signed with her collaged initials ‘MD’. She was a talented artist who practised drawing, painting and fine needlework in the years before she started her collage work.

A cornflower (also known as bluebottle) with her initials in the corner

The flower above was created with several shades of blue – cobalt, wistful blue and wedgewood blue. The names themselves sound like poetry!

She created almost a thousand pieces of art in a span of eleven years, before failing eyesight meant she had to stop collaging.

Her great-niece gathered this fragile and exquisite collection together into albums and presented them to the British Museum where they are now very popular with visitors.

I’ve saved this one till last as it represents something that is close to everyone’s heart at the moment.

I do have one question that has not been answered in the article I read about her. Where did she find all those unbelievable shades of coloured paper nearly three centuries ago?!


12 thoughts on “Mary Delany…became an artist at the age of 72

  1. These are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I recently saw an article on Facebook about someone who ripped colored pieces of paper from magazines to use in their collaging. A teacher I follow on Twitter, @PaulWHankins does beautiful collages. You might want to check out his work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgeous artwork – I love colors on black, they just pop. I cannot believe these “mosaick” works have endured so well for so long. The colors are stunning and what a great question – where DID all that richly-colored paper come from t, three centuries ago? Who knew?? And that sunflower – must tell you sunflowers grew around my rural areas last year in profusion, I have never seen so many and have no idea why so many people planted them (I must ask). Some of there dead brown stalks still stand…I am waiting to see of more sunflowers will be on the way. I wrote of them at the time and learned that they’re sometimes planted in areas to cleanse the soil of nuclear toxins… utterly fascinating plants.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, didn’t know that about sunflowers, we grew some at the school three years ago and because of all the rain they grew seven feet tall before they flowered! But it was only a small patch. The kids played hide and seek in and around them! Nature is amazing…!!


  3. Oh my gosh, how breathtakingingly beautiful! I didn’t know that Mary started at age 72!!!
    What an inspiration for as as we reach our older years.
    I wonder if Mary dyed her own paper to get a range of colours.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s