The paper garden An artist (begins her life's work) at 72

Molly Peacock, 1947-

Book - 2011

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BIOGRAPHY/Delany, Mary
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Subjects
Published
New York : Bloomsbury 2011.
Edition
1st U.S. ed
Language
English
Item Description
"Originally published in Canada in 2010 ... by McClelland & Stewart Ltd."--T.p. verso.
Physical Description
397 p. : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 21 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781608195237
1608195236
Main Author
Molly Peacock, 1947- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* If ever a subject and a biographer shared a sensibility, it is the bond between esteemed poet Peacock and the artist Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788). Peacock chronicles Englishwoman Delany's remarkable life and marvels over her "flower mosaiks," exquisitely detailed paper botanical collages. She also profoundly empathizes with Delany's experiences, entwines aspects of her own life with Delany's, and so fully inhabits Delany's delicate yet bold flower portraits, she sees them as visual memoirs. Peacock vividly imagines Delany as a young girl assiduously groomed for a position at court, only to be, basically, sold into marriage at 17 to a boozy old lord in a remote, decrepit castle. Delany found solace in nature; then, widowed at 23, she reveled in her freedom, high-society friendships, and burgeoning talents for fabric, fashion, and garden design, and eventually married for love. It was at age 72, after the death of her beloved Irish cleric husband, that industrious and original Delany began making her 985 luscious, witty, and vital "flower mosaiks." In this lapidary work of creative immersion, Peacock does with words what Delany did with scissors and paper, consummately constructing an indelible portrait of a late-blooming artist, an exalted inquiry into creativity, and a resounding celebration of the "power of amazement." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

"A life's work is always unfinished and requires creativity till the day a person dies." Here, Toronto-based poet Peacock (The Second Blush) interleaves details of her own life with that of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–88) for an affecting joint memoir/biography. Delany was married off at 17 to a drunken older widower; she then was widowed herself and moved into London society. Delany's voluminous letters (liberally quoted here) deliciously detail life in London and are filled with references to Lord Baltimore, Handel, Hogarth, Swift, George III, and Queen Charlotte. It was after an intensely happy but brief marriage to an Irish clergyman (widowed again) that she began her real life's work—creating exquisite paper collages of English flowers, which she termed "mosaicks." These stunning images effectively bolster the elevation of "women's work" from craft to high art. Affecting and engaging, Peacock's own candor combines with Delany's wit and honesty to prove that it is never too late to make a life for oneself and to be sustained by art. VERDICT This marvelous "mosaick" makes an indelible impression. This could catch on with female book groups of a certain age and Jane Austen lovers.—Barbara A. Genco, Library Journal [Page 91]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Intelligent and well read, a quintessential member of the British aristocracy but with a mind of her own, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788) was a late bloomer. Born to a noble family of moderate fortune, she was married, first at 17 to a much older, drunken aristocrat, in midlife, more happily, she married a loving Irish clergyman. Widowed, she began at age 72 her remarkable art of cutting and creating the 985 floral "mosaicks" as she termed them—a precursor to collage. Delany rubbed elbows with Handel, Hogarth, Jonathan Swift, King George III, and Queen Charlotte. But Delany was even more fortunate to come under the wing of a duchess who brought the cutting work to the attention of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Horace Walpole. Poet Peacock's (The Second Blush) hymn to Delany weaves in her own life and discovery of her subject and of course all the viewings of those astonishing orchid "mosaicks." 35 color illus. (Apr.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Follows the life of septuagenarian artist Mary Delany, including her invention of mixed media collage late in life and her relationships with such figures as Jonathan Swift, the Duchess of Portland, and King George III.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Traces the life and accomplishments of septuagenarian artist Mary Delany, describing her invention of the art of collage late in life after two heart-breaking marriages, in an account that also evaluates the roles of her relationships with such figures as Jonathan Swift, the Duchess of Portland and King George III. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700-1788) was the witty, beautiful, and talented daughter of a minor branch of a powerful family. Married off at sixteen to a sixty-one-year-old drunken squire to improve the family fortunes, then widowed by twenty-five, she would spurn many suitors over the next twenty years, including the charismatic Lord Baltimore. She cultivated a wide circle of friends, including George Frideric Handel and Jonathan Swift. And she painted, she stitched, she observed, as she swirled in the outskirts of the Georgian court. In midlife, she finally found love, and married again.Upon her second husband's death, after twenty-three years of marriage, she arose from her grief, picked up a pair of scissors, and, at the age of seventy-two, created a new art form: mixed-media collage. Over the next decade, Mrs. Delany composed an astonishing 985 botanically correct, breathtaking cut-paper flowers, now housed in the British Museum and referred to as the Flora Delanica.Molly Peacock has delicately woven parallels in her own life around the story of Mrs. Delany's, and, in doing so, has made this biography into a profound and beautiful examination of the nature of creativity and art.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Mary Delany was seventy-two years old when she noticed a petal drop from a geranium. In a flash of inspiration, she picked up her scissors and cut out a paper replica of the petal, inventing the art of collage. It was the summer of 1772, in England. During the next ten years she completed nearly a thousand cut-paper botanicals (which she called mosaicks) so accurate that botanists still refer to them. Poet-biographer Molly Peacock uses close-ups of these brilliant collages in The Paper Garden to track the extraordinary life of Delany, friend of Swift, Handel, Hogarth, and even Queen Charlotte and King George III.How did this remarkable role model for late blooming manage it? After a disastrous teenage marriage to a drunken sixty-one-year-old squire, she took control of her own life, pursuing creative projects, spurning suitors, and gaining friends. At forty-three, she married Jonathan Swift's friend Dr. Patrick Delany, and lived in Ireland in a true expression of midlife love. But after twenty-five years and a terrible lawsuit, her husband died. Sent into a netherland of mourning, Mrs. Delany was rescued by her friend, the fabulously wealthy Duchess of Portland. The Duchess introduced Delany to the botanical adventurers of the day and a bonanza of exotic plants from Captain Cook's voyage, which became the inspiration for her art. Peacock herself first saw Mrs. Delany's work more than twenty years before she wrote The Paper Garden, but "like a book you know is too old for you," she put the thought of the old woman away. She went on to marry and cherish the happiness of her own midlife, in a parallel to Mrs. Delany, and by chance rediscovered the mosaicks decades later. This encounter confronted the poet with her own aging and gave her-and her readers-a blueprint for late-life flexibility, creativity, and change.