Mrs. Delany and her Circle
Editor: Mark Laird Editor: Alicia Weisberg-Roberts New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009
This publication accompanied the exhibition Mrs. Delany and her Circle at Yale Center for British Art (24 September 2009 to 3 January 2010) and Sir John Soanes Museum (18 February to 1 May 2010).
At the age of seventy-two, Mary Delany, ne Mary Granville (1700-1788), embarked upon a series of nearly a thousand botanical collages, or paper mosaicks, that would prove to be the crowning achievement of her rich creative life. These delicate hand-cut floral designs, made by a method of Mrs. Delanys own invention, vie with the finest botanical works of her time. More than two centuries later her extraordinary work continues to inspire. Although best known for these collages, Mrs. Delany was also an amateur artist, woman of fashion, and commentator on life and society in eighteenth-century England and Ireland. Her prolific craft activities not only served to cement personal bonds of friendship, but also allowed her to negotiate the interconnecting artistic, aristocratic, and scientific networks that surrounded her. This ambitious and groundbreaking book, the first to survey the full range of Mrs. Delanys creative endeavors, reveals the complexity of her engagement with natural science, fashion, and design.
The exhibition at Yale was viewed by close to 25,000 visitors and received acclaim in three features in various sections of The New York Times. Andy Port, for example, writing in the Style section on 29 September 2009, described the engaging new show as worth the trip to New Haven alone. Amanda Vickerys article in the Arts section of the Saturday Guardian (17 October 2009) called the show a gorgeous attempt to rescue female amateurism from the condescension of posterity, while Anna Pavord in The Independent (6 February 2010) referred to the stunning new exhibition about to open in London that month.