Mrs Delany: A Life
Mrs Delany is best remembered for her captivating paper collages of flowers, but her artistic flourishing came late in life. This nuanced, deeply researched biography pulls back the lens to place Delany’s art in the broader context of her family life, relationships with royalty, and her endeavor to live as an independent woman.
Clarissa Campbell Orr, a noted authority on the eighteenth century court, charts Mary Delany’s development from a young woman at the heart of elite circles to beloved godmother and celebrated collagist. Orr traces the varied connections Mary Delany fostered throughout her life and which influenced her intellectual and artistic development: she was friends with prominent figures such as Methodist leader, John Wesley, composer G. F. Handel, the writer Jonathan Swift, and England’s leading patron of science, Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland.
Mrs Delany reveals its subject to be far more than a widow befriended by George III and Queen Charlotte; she is, instead, restored to her proper place in the era’s aristocratic society –and as a ground-breaking artist.