This marvelous original watercolor was part of a collection that was inscribed as Botanic Plants Drawn by a Lady for Mrs. Bliss. The watercolor was completed in Great Britain circa 1800. The paper is woven and watermarked 1797-1801. Most of the watercolors also display contemporary pencil captions. The botanicals were lightly sketched in pencil, completed with watercolor, and finished with gum arabic.
The watercolors were most likely completed by the fantastic botanical artist Mary Lawrance (later Mary Kearse). The possible attribution to Mary Lawrance is based principally on the presence of two images of the passion flower. Although undated, the watermarks confirm that these drawings were accomplished circa 1800, just at the time that Lawrance was working on her now-fantastically-rare A Collection of Passion Flowers (1799-1800).
Mary Lawrance exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1795 to 1830. She was a skilled artist that was able to charge for lessons when it was considered a social accomplishment for ladies to paint flowers. She “is said to have been the possessor of much personal charm and exceedingly popular in London. [She] obtained her botanical specimens for her drawings from various nursery gardens, including the famous Vineyard nursery at Hammersmith. It was thought to be an honour for the owner as well as for the flower when Miss Lawrence painted its portrait.” (Henrey II,pp.580-581)
Provenance: Mrs. Bliss (title inscription); William Carlyon, Tregrehan, Cornwall (armorial bookplate); William H. Schab Gallery, Four Centuries of Fine Illustrated Books (1962). Sold by William H. Schab Gallery in 1962, their catalogue description identified Mrs. Bliss as Elizabeth Clement Breed (1778-1829) and suggests that the drawings were presented to her by Enos Bliss (1765-1852) on their marriage on 11 March 1801.