Marianne North


Marianne North
Born 1830 - Died 1890; British

Marianne North was the daughter of a wealthy politician who inspired her love of travel.  Her and her father had a strong bond, with Marianne looking after him until his death. At this point at 39 she embarked on her major travels and paintings.  Whilst she did learn traditional botanical methods of painting she preferred to do things very unconventionally (spoiler alert for the below). She retired from travel at age 55 where she wrote her autobiography ‘Recollections of a Happy Life” & died in 1890 at age 59.


Some Badass Reasons they should be remembered

  1. She visited six continents, 17 countries over 14 years - creating more than 800 paintings in the process. Can I say #travelgoals? Remember, planes were not a thing yet these were all voyages on boats 

  2. She did most of this alone - rebelling against the norms of the day.  Not to mention this was all done in the clothing of the era, which do not contain the most travel friendly of outfits

  3. She met some insane people - Charles Darwin suggested she visit Australia (which is did), she spent time with the last Brazilian Emperor- Pedro II, & got permission to paint in Japan when they were not friendly to outsiders

  4. She had a super progressive views towards marriage - and I quote “Marriage? A terrible experiment

  5. She bucked the traditional botanical illustration methods in favour of using oil paints & painting them in-situ.  As anyone who has used oil paints will know - that stuff is hard and takes forever to dry. So to take that all over the world and then paint with it outside is crazy.

  6. She built a gallery to display all her paintings.  Which you can still visit FYI. It’s located at the Kew Gardens in England.  In an amusing tale of resistance North had wanted it also to be a tea house in addition to the gallery but the gardens director refused. So she just painted tea and coffee plants over the doorway because why not?

Selected  Works

Find Out More
Botanical Art & Artists - Let's be real - these guys are going to appear on every one of these since they are such a good resource
PhD thesis by Lynne Helen Gladston - Yes I read someone PHD Thesis as part of my research for this
Recollections of a happy life - A copy of her autobiography
Kew Gardens - Info about the Gallery at Kew Gardens