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The flower-loving 18th Century aristocrat who was a secret scientist

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

Lady Emma Bennet was an 18th Century aristocrat and plant enthusiast whose collection of botanical paintings is a jewel of the Kew Gardens archives. Despite the great effort that goes into preserving her collection, little was actually known about the botanist and secret scientist until a historian started to do some digging.

In 1932, several crates were delivered to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, after being bought at auction from a castle estate sale.

They contained 648 watercolours of plants and flowers amassed some 130 years previously by Lady Emma Bennet, the fourth countess of Tankerville.

The illustrations are fragile. They are painted in gouache and watercolour on vellum, which had then been fixed to paper in an album, a customary method in the 18th Century.


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