A Space of Their Own

Mary Delany

May 14, 1700 – April 15, 1788

Active in: England
Alternate names: Mary Granville


Mary Delany was a British artist known for her botanical drawings and decoupage. She was born in Coulston, Wiltshire in 1700. She married Alexander Pendarves in 1718 and moved to West Cornwall. She was widowed in 1725 and was able to pursue her own interests and opportunities for the first time. Delany was a gardener and an artist skilled in needlework, drawing, and painting. She married Dr. Patrick Delany in 1743 and was widowed again in 1768, at the age of sixty-eight. It was after the death of her second husband that Delany began to make detailed, botanically accurate renderings of plants of flowers using hand-colored tissue paper. She called these works “paper-mosaicks” and she made 985 of them between 1771 and 1788, when her eyesight failed her. Delany died in London later that year.

Selected Works


Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon: die bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Völker. Munich: Saur, 1992.

Blain, Virginia, et al. “Delany, Mary.” The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990.

“Delany, Mary.” Oxford Art Online. https://doi-org.proxyiub.uits.iu.edu/10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00048466.

Dewes, Simon. Mrs. Delaney. London: Rich & Cowan, Ltd., 1989.

Hayden, Ruth. Mrs. Delaney: Her Life and Her Flowers. London: British Museum Publishers, 1980.

Kerhervé, Alain, ed. Mary Delany (1700–1788) and the Court of King George III. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2015.

Laird, Mark, and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts, eds. Mrs. Delany and Her Circle. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

“Mary Delany.” RKD. https://rkd.nl/explore/artists/341221.

Parker, Rozsika, and Griselda Pollock. Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.

Peacock, Molly. The Paper Garden: An Artist (Begins Her Life’s Work) at 72. New York: Bloomsbury, 2011.

Stewart, Brian, and Mervyn Cutten. The Dictionary of Portrait Painters in Britain up to 1920. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 1996.

Wilson, Rachel. Elite Women in Ascendancy Ireland, 1690–1745: Imitation and Innovation. Boydell and Brewer: Woodbridge, 2015.