Works by Victorian botanical artist for Irma Stern Museum

16 July 2002
THE UCT Irma Stern Museum will celebrate spring and the Cape season of flowers with an exhibition of paintings by acclaimed Victorian botanical artist, Arabella Roupell.

Just over 150 years ago, a limited edition of her botanical paintings of Cape flora was printed in London by the Shakespeare Press of Pall Mall. Queen Victoria herself topped the list of elite subscribers. The volume was entitled Specimens of Flora of South Africa – Cape Flowers by a Lady. Despite her modesty in insisting that her name not be published, the identity of the Lady is now well-known.

Born in Shropshire, England, Roupell married an officer in the East India Company and visited the Cape from India in 1843. She began to collect and paint Cape flora and word of her skill as a botanical artist soon spread throughout the Cape. Her work came to the attention of the director of Kew Gardens. He immediately arranged for the publication of some of her paintings.

"Roupell's painting are a fusion of scientific precision with artistic sensibility and warmth and sheer enjoyment of flowers," said the Museum's Director, Christopher Peter. The botanical paintings will be on display at the Irma Stern Museum from August 21 to October 5. The exhibition coincides with the Kirstenbosch Biennial botanical art exhibition, which runs from September 1 to October 5 at the Old Mutual Conference Centre, Kirstenbosch.

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