British Museum collections, £12.99
Explore / Articles
Mary Delany (1700-88)
The young Mary Granville (later Delany) was married at the age of seventeen to Alexander Pendarves. The unhappy marriage, arranged by her uncle Lord Lansdowne, ended with the death of her aged husband in 1724. Mary moved to London where she took painting lessons with Joseph Goupy and probably William Hogarth (1697-1764). She also befriended the composer George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) and the satirist Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). Through Swift she met Patrick Delany, a protestant Irish clergyman, whom she married in 1743. They lived at Delville, near Dublin, where Mary developed the fashionable skills of shell decoration, cutting silhouettes and needlework while helping her husband to plan and lay out the gardens of the estate.
After Dr Delany's death in 1768 she began spending her summers with the Duchess of Portland at Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire. It was here that she began her remarkable series of flower collages that were bequeathed to The British Museum by her descendent Lady Llanover in 1895. Through the Duchess of Portland she became acquainted with George III and Queen Charlotte who were to provide her with a house in Windsor in her last years.