54.4 x 35.1cm sheet
Ellis Rowan earned an international reputation as a flower painter, naturalist and adventurer in the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries, venturing into remote parts of Australia and further afield, recording the plants and animals she encountered with an energy and intensity unmatched by most other artists of her day.
Born in Melbourne in 1848, Rowan was exhibiting flower paintings by the early 1870s, her success earning criticism from other artists as undue of for a 'low' art form, and from that time on she worked independently of the fine art establishment. She was inspired by the work of British flower painter Marianne North (see Kew Gardens collection), who she met while in her early thirties, emulating her practice of natural history painting, and often exceeding her in quality.
Ellis traveled extensively, and wrote accounts of her experiences in Europe, India, America, New Guinea and around Australia; on these trips she produced hundreds of watercolours and gouaches of flora and fauna, meticulously drawn from life. By the time of her death, her fame was widespread, and Federal Parliament posthumously acquired a large collection of her work for the nation.