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Wildgoose, Jane

[Shellflower] [realia].

[London] : [Jane Wildgoose], 2010.
Physical Description:
1 shellwork flower : white clam shells ; 65 mm in diameter x 15 mm in height, in glass box 80 x 80 x 55 mm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
NX547.6.D45 S44 2010 Flat
Yale Center for British Art, Purchased with a gift from Mark and Adam Eaker, Yale BA 2007, in memory of Charles A. Ryskamp, Yale PhD 1956
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
The shellflower is composed of small white clam shells set in concentric circles, with white thread "stamens" at the center. The clam shells are affixed to a card base, bound around the edge with thin silk ribbon secured in a bow with a pin, with a pearl bead. The box is comprised of panes of beveled glass, edged in brass, with a mirrored base.
Artist's statement, from correspondence with the artist, January 2012: "The shellflower, made from small white clam shells, is of the same pattern as the ones made to 'garland' the front of the cabinet dedicated to the friendship between Mary Delany (1700-1788) and Margaret, Duchess of Portland (1715-1785), that was the centrepiece of the installation Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship, & The Order of Things, which accompanied the exhibition Mrs Delany and Her Circle at the Center in 2009. Of all Mary Delany's handiwork her shellwork has proved to be the most ephemeral, and very little evidence of it now exists apart from a number of references in her correspondence. For instance, in December 1750 Delany wrote: 'I go on making shell flowers for the ceiling of the chapel [at Delville, her house in Ireland]. I have made 86 large flowers and about 30 small ones ... I make the flowers and ornaments by candlelight, and by daylight when I don't paint, put together festoons for the ceiling.' The shellflowers made for the installation were intended as a tribute to this lost aspect of Delany's handiwork, which also included designing a grotto for her friend's country estate, Bulstrode, and a chandelier (or 'lustre' as she termed it) which was 'fixed up in my portico, which is dedicated to the Duchess of Portland'. This shellflower was commissioned by Charles Ryskamp after he saw the Promiscuous Assemblage installation at the Center in September 2009, and requested one single example for his collection that would be protected within a glass-topped box. It was agreed that such a container might give the piece the appearance of a little relic--a tribute, in its turn, to the enthusiasm for collecting and cabinets of curiosity which the commissioner and the artist had discovered they shared."
"Commissioned from The Wildgoose Memorial Library, Delany/Portland Archive, by Mr. Charles Ryskamp [dated in black ink] January 2010."--Inscription printed on paper on the bottom of the glass box.
Subject Terms:
Cabinets of curiosities.
Collectors and collecting -- England.
Delany, Mrs. (Mary), 1700-1788.
Flowers in art.
Portland, Margaret Cavendish Holles Harley Bentinck, Duchess of, 1715-1785.
Ryskamp, Charles -- Art collections.
Wildgoose, Jane.
Women in natural history.

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