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Mary Vaux Walcott, Artist

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"Sometimes I feel that I can hardly wait till the time comes to escape from city life, to the free air of the everlasting hills." -Mary Vaux Walcott, Letters to Charles Walcott, Feb 19, 1912.

This collection contains personal selections from the nearly 800 botanical illustrations by Mary Walcott held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 

From Wikipedia (March 5, 2019): Mary Morris Vaux[a] was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a wealthy Quaker family. After graduating from the Friends Select School in Philadelphia in 1879, she took an interest in watercolor painting. When she was not working on the family farm, she began painting illustrations of wildflowers that she saw on family trips to the Rocky Mountains of Canada.[3] During the family summer trips, she and her brothers studied mineralogy and recorded the flow of glaciers in drawings and photographs.[4] The trips to the Canadian Rockies sparked her interest in geology.[3]

In 1880, at the age of nineteen, Vaux took on the responsibility of caring for her father and two younger brothers when her mother died.[5] After 1887, she and her brothers went back to western Canada almost every summer. During this time she became an active mountain climber, outdoors woman, and photographer. Asked one summer to paint a rare blooming arnica by a botanist, she was encouraged to concentrate on botanical illustration.[4] She spent many years exploring the rugged terrain of the Canadian Rockies to find important flowering species to paint. On these trips, Vaux became the first women to accomplish the over 10,000 feet ascent of Mount Stephen.[6] In 1887, on her first transcontinental trip via rail, she wrote an engaging travel journal of the family's four-month trek through the American West and the Canadian Rockies.[7]

Over her father's fierce objections, Mary Vaux married the paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott, who was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in 1914, when she was 54. She played an active part in her husband's projects, returning to the Rockies with him several times and continuing to paint wildflowers. In 1925, the Smithsonian published some 400 of her illustrations, accompanied by brief descriptions, in a five-volume work entitled North American Wild Flowers. In Washington, Mary became a close friend of First Lady Lou Henry Hoover[5] and raised money to erect the Florida Avenue Meeting House, so that the first Quaker President and his wife would have a proper place to worship. From 1927 to 1932, Mary Vaux Walcott served on the federal Board of Indian Commissioners and, driven by her chauffeur, traveled extensively throughout the American West, diligently visiting reservations.

When she was 75, she made her first trip abroad to Japan to visit lifelong friend and fellow Philadelphia Quaker, Mary Elkington Nitobe, who had married Japanese diplomat Inazo Nitobe.

She was elected president of the Society of Woman Geographers in 1933. In 1935, the Smithsonian published Illustrations of North American Pitcher-Plants, which included 15 paintings by Walcott. Following the death of her husband in 1927, Walcott established the Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal in his honor. It is awarded for scientific work on pre-Cambrian and Cambrian life and history. Walcott died in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.[3]

#fivewomenartists #5womenartists #BecauseOfHerStory

Wild Pineapple (Tillandsia fasciculata)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Umbrella Tree (Magnolia tripetala)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mountain Rose-Bay (Rhododendron catawbiense)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Wake-Robin (Trillium simile)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Wake-Robin (Trillium underwoodii)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Dutchman's Pipe

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Greendragon (Arisaema dracontium)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Western Larch (Larix occidentalis)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Thistle (Cirsium arizonica)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Satinleaf Goldenhead (Enceliopsis covillei)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mayapple (Podphyllum paltatum)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

California Nutmeg (Tumion californicum)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

American Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Canada Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

White Fairy Lantern (Calochortus albus)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Whippoorwill Flower (Trillium H.)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Whippoorwill Flower (Trillium hugeri)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Untitled--Flower Study

Smithsonian American Art Museum

(Untitled--Flower Study)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sweet Trillium (Trillium vasyi)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Skunk Cabbage (Spathyema foetida)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sequoia (Sequoia gigantea)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Quill-Leaf Tillandsia (Tillandsia fasciculata)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Lechuguilla (Agava lechuguilla)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

California Lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus rostrata)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Alpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bearpoppy (Arctomecon merriami)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mary Vaux Walcott

Smithsonian Archives - History Div

Mary Vaux Walcott’s Wild Flowers

Smithsonian Institution Archives