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Ellen Robbins--Wild Flowers No. 1

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"The Lenhardt Library at the Chicago Botanic Garden has a number of special and unique works in its collection, but none more spectacular than Ellen Robbins's collection of 18 watercolors. These stunning illustrations on 18 plates capture different leaves and branches at the height of their autumn color. These plates are so realistic that on several occasions, exhibits of these watercolors in the Library have initially confused visitors, imagining the watercolors to be actual specimens from the field, rather than artistic renditions.

"Such is the talent of Ellen Robbins (1828–1905): One contemporary noted that her work was "so natural that bees might light" on her watercolors of spring wildflowers."


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Mike, she must have used the type of paint known as gouache and that comes in a tube, as described here:


it's hard to believe these are watercolor. I enlarged it 300 percent. she must have used very thick water


From Wikipedia:-

Ellen Robbins (1828–1905) was a 19th-century American botanical illustrator known for paintings of wildflowers and autumn leaves. She was one of the contributors to the first annual exhibition of the American Watercolor Society in 1867/1868.
Born in 1828 in Watertown, Massachusetts, Ellen Robbins was the youngest child of a factory owner who died when she was still a child. His [soap-making] factory subsequently burned down, and the combination of events left the family in straitened circumstances. Robbins began trying to help the family's finances by getting work while still very young. After trying various domestic arts, she turned to watercolor painting. Although she received some training from an artist named Stephen Salisbury Tuckerman, she was largely self-taught.
In her twenties, Robbins began producing books of flower illustrations and selling them for the then very substantial sum of $25 each. Her success with these led her to broaden out from flowers to autumn leaves.
In addition to publishing books, Robbins sold original paintings through a shop in Boston. Her work became fashionable in both America and England, and she began painting botanical designs on china and even furniture for her clients. In the 1840s, she began creating textile designs, as well as designs for tiles and needlework. In the 1840s, she began also to teach watercolor painting.
In the late 1860s, after the introduction of chromolithography, the lithographer Louis Prang hired her to create a series of flowers and autumn leaves specifically to be sold as prints.

Thanks, Gayle. I can see why her work was so popular.


This is remarkably realistic. I can almost imagine bees mistaking it for the real thing. Only I think they see in different wavelengths of light than we do, so they probably wouldn't be fooled. Thanks, Gayle.