Ellis Rowan

Marian Ellis Rowan (30 July 1848 – 4 Oct. 1922), known as Ellis Rowan; well-known Australian artist and botanical illustrator.

...Despite winning several gold medals judged by international artists against some of Australia's leading male artists, a disdain for her ability, artistry, and capacity due to her gender resulted in a bias against her art that lasted decades...

She died at Macedon, Victoria, her husband and her only son having predeceased her (her husband died in 1892, aged 47, possibly by suicide; and her son died of nephritis in Africa, aged 22, while in jail awaiting trial on charges of forgery.

...[She] had no formal training in art. In 1869, however, she visited English relatives who advised her to continue painting wildflowers in her own style. It was this which brought her lasting fame....

Ellis Rowan was a small, strong-willed yet fascinating woman, an enigmatic character who forged her way through life, captivating others while pursuing her ultimate goal—the finding and painting of wildflowers, birds, insects and butterflies of many countries, often for the first time. Many were classified and named by the government botanist Sir Ferdinand Mueller.

...In 1879-93 Ellis Rowan exhibited her work in international exhibitions in Australia, India, England, Europe and the United States of America and in that time was awarded 10 gold medals, 15 silver and 4 bronze. In 1888 at Melbourne's Centennial International Exhibition she was awarded the highest honors, which brought a measure of envy from a few artists who considered flower painting an inferior art.

...While in America she illustrated 3 botanical texts for Alice Lounsberry. Ellis returned to Australia in 1905-06 where she pursued her search to find and record every species of wildflower on the continent.

In 1916-18 she twice visited Papua and New Guinea, finding and illustrating many...
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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