"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 18 March 2013

Wildflower Watercolour Paintings

I've been having another decluttering session at home and came across these original wildflower watercolour paintings that I've never got round to framing. I bought them some years ago at a local Antique Fair and they are dated between 1928 and 1940. I fell in love with them because they reminded me so much of the delightful illustrations in the Edith Holden books - "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes".

The paintings are not signed so I have no idea who the artist was or whether they were male or female. In fact, I am not 100% sure if they are all by the same person. The Antiques Fair closed down some years ago so unfortunately I can't even return and ask the seller for more information.

I particularly like the way the artist has added, in some cases, smaller illustrations of flowers, seeds or seed cases.

I have labelled the photos of the paintings below with the flower name used by the artist.

Veronica (dated 1933)

Lesser Spearwort (dated 1928)

Ranunculus (dated 1934)

Tufted Vetch (dated 1940)

Sainfoin (dated 1940)

I still hope to post some more "Following in the Footsteps of an Edwardian Lady" visits later in the year. I have been undertaking some research at Solihull Library trying to track down Edith's "Violet Wood". The only information I could find in the books was that it was near the canal and consisted mainly of conifers. Solihull Library has some superb large scale maps of the Olton area dating back to the time when she wrote her diary. Combining information gained from these maps with current OS Maps, Google Maps and driving round the area, I have come to the conclusion that the violet wood may possibly have been Billsmore Wood which unfortunately for me is located on the Land Rover site and so I wouldn't be able to access it. The only other possibilities are small pockets of woodland along the canal but these today (and in Edith's time) are mainly deciduous.

The book in the photo below - "The Frampton Flora" by Richard Mabey is another of my favourites. The book contains Victorian Paintings by 4 sisters - Elizabeth, Charlotte, Catherine and Mary-Anne Clifford and their aunts of flowers in the Frampton area of Gloucestershire where they lived; together with Richard Mabey's account of these flowers, paintings and painters. I am not sure if the book is still in print but Amazon has Used copies for sale.


Jerry said...

What a fascinating post. I agree, the paintings are rather reminiscent of Edith Holden's charming work, especially perhaps the Ranunculus. The other thing I like about these paintings is that (at least from your photographs)they look remarkably fresh, as though they were painted very recently. I love too, the idea of your attempt to track down that wood - perhaps Land Rover would give you permission to visit it if you write to them and explain?

Dartford Warbler said...

What a find! Those botanical drawings and paintings are beautiful and so delicately worked.

Ragged Robin said...

Jerry - Many thanks - so glad you enjoyed the post :) Sorry, the photos weren't better - low light and flash bleached them out. Could have edited but may have made them worse :) Tufted Vetch and Sainfroin from the 1940's are the freshest. The others look far more aged.

Thanks for suggestion re: Land Rover. I think I will contact them - have nothing to lose (they can only say no!!).

Dartford Warbler - I must admit I love them :) Not sure what I should have paid for them - it was probably way over the odds but I just couldn't resist :)

abbey meadows said...

Delightful paintings, I would have them framed and displayed on a wall in the house if you can find room! Frampton flora is one of my favourate books as well, in fact all Richard Mabey's books are worth owning due to the rich evocative writing and illustrations to match. Nice post.

Ragged Robin said...

Abbey Meadows - Many thanks - so glad you liked the post and paintings :) I do intend to frame them up as you can probably see from the poor cropping they are already mounted. I did buy some frames but husband not keen on them :) So trying to decide what would set off the paintings best.

I also love Richard Mabey's books and writing. Have a list of those I still need to purchase :) In fact, I have a folder (no wonder house is so cluttered!!) full of pulled out pages of BBC Wildlife Mag of his column :)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Caroline :-) What a thoroughly enjoyable post. I read it last night and then twice more today! The paintings are lovely and would look splendid on a wall I'm sure. I wonder if an auction house might recognise the style of the artist? They reminded me of Edith Holden too but when the post first popped up on my sidebar I thought for just a moment that you had been dabbling yourself ;-)

The book looks lovely too and very tempting, I have already looked it up ;-) Good luck with your research into the 'Violet Wood', I had a look on the web but got nowhere and guess you found the same.

Oh dear, you have indirectly cost me a potential thirty odd pounds Caroline!! While I was looking the book up I came across a reference to a DVD of the tv series about Edith. I can't remember watching it although I think I must have. Anyway, I managed to find it on Amazon USA at about twenty one pounds which is very pricey but when compared to the UK version which has been chopped to ninety minutes as opposed to three hundred!! minutes is actually not too bad although it may be liable for an extra charge by customs which in total would make it just over thirty pounds but still far better than the chopped UK version at over sixty pounds!! I should add we have a DVD player which plays region one and two so will be able to play the USA version. An indulgence I know but being such a fan of Edith Holden I just can't resist it :-)

Ragged Robin said...

ShySongbird Hi Jan :) So glad you enjoyed the post :) It did cross my mind you might think I had been dabbling :) :) I am afraid many of the things I planned to do this winter like attempting a few flower paintings and going through the new micro moth book just seem to have "gone out of the window" :( I suspect the paintings are probably by an amateur but your idea of an auction house is a good one. I will bear that in mind.

I'll keep an eye out for the book for you in case I see it somewhere like Baddesley Clinton where they have a huge second hand book shop.

I think you are tempting me to spend money too :) I looked about a year ago for dvd's of the Edith tv series and couldn't find anything. I did watch it at the time and really regret now not videoing it. So was really interested that you had been able to track down one on USA Amazon. I am hugely tempted - thanks for the tip re: different regions - I will have to make some discreet enquiries as to what our dvd does :) Why on earth have they chopped down the UK version?? and sixty pounds eek!!! The US version is definitely a better buy :)

Would love to know what you think of the series if you give in to temptation :)

I really do wish at times they would repeat some of the old tv series on ITV and especially BBC as there were such good programmes on compared to many today. Do you remember Poldark?

Toffeeapple said...

What a delightful post, full of lovely images. If I owned those pictures, I would take them to a professional framer for advice on which type of frame to use. And I would certainly write to Land Rover about the wood, they might give you a guided tour in a Land Rover!

As for Poldark, here is a link to his current blog -


Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Many thanks. So glad you liked the post :)

Thanks for the good idea re: the professional framer - I hadn't thought of that :)

When I get a minute I will drop Land Rover a line - tour in a Land Rover would be rather good :)

Thanks ever so much for the link re: Poldark - I will check that out :)

Bovey Belle said...

What lovely paintings. I would have bought them too! Edith Holden's work and the Frampton Flora have been on my bookshelves for many a long year, and are still enjoyed. I have several of Richard Mabey's books and agree with you about his writing.

I was only thinking this morning that I can draw wild flowers (well, copy other people's work, which isn't quite the same thing!) and I should do some more and perhaps try painting them too. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle. Many thanks :) Glad you like the paintings and so glad they have inspired you :)

I would love to be able to paint or draw (I have no skills whatsoever :( ) but I would like to try and teach myself. When I get time, not sure when!!!!, it is something I plan to do. Husband who can paint and draw says "anyone can do it". TBH I am not convinced!! but we shall see :)

Good luck with your painting :)

Em Parkinson said...

Me too! I would have been running out of the shop with them I love the Vetch particularly. Thanks for the Plover comment....I have changed the post name now!

ShySongbird said...

Hi again Caroline :-) Sorry not to respond earlier! Thank you for saying you would look out for the book, I see it is pretty easy to get hold of on Amazon etc. and quite a lot of reasonably priced copies in decent condition around but having given in to the temptation of the Edith DVD (already dispatched and on its way!), I will leave it on my 'maybe' list for now ;-)

Your reply above could have been written by me! I have always longed to be able to draw and paint and when I bought the first Edith book, years ago, I had a go but then husband tried his hand at a portrait and when I saw how good it was I never tried again!! He has always felt guilty since for putting me off. Like you I keep meaning to have another go but really don't think I have any natural talent.

Will let you know what I think of the DVD. It will take a while to arrive from the USA and I will be interested to see if it gets stung by customs which happened a while ago. Their five pounds wouldn't be so bad but the eight which Royal Mail stuck on the top as a handling charge made my blood boil! They don't even deliver it to the door, you have to pick it up from the sorting office! Apparently, in theory, it is anything with a value above fifteen pounds but in reality it is pot luck whether they will check or not.

Yes, I do remember Poldark but can't remember much about it now. I think you can buy the complete boxed set for around forty pounds. We have lots and lots of DVDs, Morse, Marple, Good Life, One Foot in the Grave to name but a few and as for old back and white movies....;-)

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson -- I'm glad I posted photos - everyone's comments have made me appreciate the paintings more :)

Glad to be of help re: the Golden Plover. There's dozens been seen quite close to me but its finding time to go and look for them!

Shy Songbird - Hi again Jan :) Please don't worry - glad to hear from you whenever you comment :) Glad to hear your Edith dvd is on the way. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

I hope you don't get stung again with the parcel - haven't bought anything from US for years so didn't know about that.

Must admit I have checked out the US dvd now :) Apparently our dvd would play it BUT husband did mention dvd player has been playing up recently and when I tried to play the Birding in Norfolk dvd I bought on holiday it played up and wouldn't play it :( Not good! Anyway I have saved the US Edith dvd in Amazon wish list!!! Once we have dvd player sorted I suspect it won't be long before I give in to temptation :)

What a coincidence your husband is good at painting like Brian :) I could never "compete" with him and I suspect when I eventually have a go they will look like a nursery child's paintings and I will get disheartened and give up :) Will let you know!!! but I doubt I will be posting any paintings of mine on blog!!!

I have got a few of the Poldark episodes on dvd but thanks for tip - I will put boxed set on a Cmas present list:)

Sorry for rushed replies to you both - am in the middle of cooking tea :)

Rohrerbot said...

That's wonderful!!! A place with documents dating back to the day!!! Very cool. I can't wait until you get back to your research again.

I do like that painting. Such a delicate and lightly colored yellow will look good at an entrance way, bathroom, above a short end table. Enjoy! I need to start framing as well but it costs $$$

Ragged Robin said...

Rohrerbot - Once the weather improves!! I will be visiting and posting on some of the places in Edith's diary that I didn't visit last year.

The paintings are lovely but as you say the frames are rather expensive especially as I had already bought some that no-one liked!!!! But they will go up on the walls one day :)

Ragged Robin said...

Rohrerbot - Once the weather improves!! I will be visiting and posting on some of the places in Edith's diary that I didn't visit last year.

The paintings are lovely but as you say the frames are rather expensive especially as I had already bought some that no-one liked!!!! But they will go up on the walls one day :)