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Transformations: Harriet and Helena Scott, colonial Sydney’s finest…

av Vanessa Finney

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1411,160,609 (5)Ingen/inga
The fascinating story of the Scott sisters, who transformed nature into art in their extraordinary paintings of butterflies and moths, is told here for the first time.With their collecting boxes, notebooks, and paintbrushes, Harriet and Helena Scott entered the masculine worlds of science and art and became two of nineteenth-century Australia's most prominent natural history painters. Transformations tells the complete story of the Scott sisters for the first time--their early lives in colonial Sydney, their training as naturalists and artists on the isolated Ash Island, and their professional triumphs. This is a rare pictorial record of two talented and determined women who transformed nature into art in their extraordinary paintings.… (mer)
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I loved this book. At once both lovely and sad. Lovely with the beautiful watercolours painted mainly by the two Scott sisters Helena and Harriet. Sad, because their lives were profoundly difficult in the main and their work did not receive the recognition it was due but is only now (200 years later) receiving. I was fortunate enough to see an exhibition of their work..I think at the Australia Museum in Sydney..... where some of the originals works were on display. But the reproductions in this hardback book are very good and fairly close to the originals in colour.
I have tried my hand at botanical painting and can only marvel at the fine quality of the works that these two sisters produced with all the limitations of access to paints and brushes and paper. They must have had access to some form of magnification ..or a microscope...so detailed is some of their work . But the book seems to be silent on this score. I would have welcomed a bit more technical information about their techniques and their paint sources etc. William Swainson...a visiting British naturalist put it very well when he wrote that .."Whether, in short, we look to the exquisite and elaborate finishing, the correct drawing, or the astonishing exactitude of the colours, of the the most brilliant, and generally indescribably blended, there is no poetic exaggeration in saying ..the force of painting can no further go." Their father was a naturalist but also a businessman in the Hunter valley. He introduced the girls to the study of entomology and to painting but all his life he seems to have skirted around financial problems. And the girls likewise. Later in life Harriet married a Doctor and lived on the south coast of NSW....but Helena continued to paint and support herself by her painting endeavours. Like today, natural history painters are not well rewarded and Helena clearly lived a fairly frugal life. Even when she sold complete collections ...for example to the Australian Museum, the slums involved were modest in comparison to the quality of the work. Because, not only are they fine works of art in their own right but they are important scientific collections. One also gets a sense of the wistfulness that the young women felt in being excluded from a university education and how male-centric was their universe. Strongly recommend the book both as interesting biography and also as a collection of wonderful natural history watercolours. ( )
  booktsunami | Mar 21, 2019 |
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The fascinating story of the Scott sisters, who transformed nature into art in their extraordinary paintings of butterflies and moths, is told here for the first time.With their collecting boxes, notebooks, and paintbrushes, Harriet and Helena Scott entered the masculine worlds of science and art and became two of nineteenth-century Australia's most prominent natural history painters. Transformations tells the complete story of the Scott sisters for the first time--their early lives in colonial Sydney, their training as naturalists and artists on the isolated Ash Island, and their professional triumphs. This is a rare pictorial record of two talented and determined women who transformed nature into art in their extraordinary paintings.

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