Mrs. Delany and her Circle, at the Yale Center for British Art
"At the age of seventy-two, Mary Delany, née Mary Granville (1700–1788), a botanical artist, woman of fashion, and commentator on life and society in eighteenth-century England and Ireland, embarked on a series of one thousand botanical collages, or 'paper mosaics'[editor's note: also spelled mosaicks]. These were the crowning achievement of a life defined by creative accomplishment. The delicate hand-cut floral designs, made by a method of Mrs. Delany’s own invention, rival the finest botanical works of her time."
Mrs. Delany and her Circle, which continues at the Yale Center for British Art, is the first to survey the full range of Mary Delany’s creative endeavors, revealing the complexity of her engagement with natural science, art, and design. Her prolific craft activities served to cement bonds of friendship and allowed her to negotiate the interlinked artistic, aristocratic, and scientific networks that defined her social world.
A range of approximately 130 objects, including drawings, collages, embroidered textiles, shells, botanical specimens, and manuscripts related to her interest in landscape gardening, reflects the variety of her activities. The exhibition will also feature a floral display inspired by Mrs. Delany’s designs, as well as a site-specific installation by London-based artist Jane Wildgoose. Mrs. Delany and her Circle has been co-organized by the Yale Center for British Art and Sir John Soane’s Museum.The Yale Center for British Art is the only North American venue for the exhibition. "While Mrs. Delany is best known for her botanical collages, she created bold new garden designs, decorated her home and garden with shell decoupage, fashioned paper silhouettes, and was an accomplished embroiderer who produced elaborate designs for dresses and furnishings. The exhibition will reunite a significant number of Mrs. Delany’s textiles.
Among her most extraordinary designs was a court dress embroidered with a cascade of naturalistic flowers on black satin, ca. 1739–40. This garment was disassembled and preserved by Mrs. Delany’s heirs and represents a marriage of art and nature that vividly foreshadows her later accomplishments. Pieces of the dress, reunited here for the first time, will be accompanied by didactic materialthat will allow visitors to understand the garment as a whole and will explain theequally interesting story of its survival. Also on view will be embroideries by Mrs.Delany and her circle that will demonstrate the importance of the art of the needle to eighteenth-century female society."
Three of Mary Delaney's paper creations can be seen at the British Museum,
Mrs. Delany and Her Circle (Yale Center for British Art) by Mark Laird, Alicia Weisberg-Robertswhere a book about her is also located.
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