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Abstract Detail


Historical Section

Flannery, Maura [1].

Blanche and OakesAmes: A Relationship of Art and Science.

Oakes Ames (1874-1950) was a wealthy New Englander who developed a fascination with orchids as a boy. He had his own greenhouse, and eventually his own library, herbarium,and laboratory - at home. He was educated at Harvard University where he joined the faculty after receiving his A.M.degree. He later donated his herbarium of over 100,000 specimens, as well as his library, to the University. He made many contributions to the orchid literature describing over 1,100 new species and 9 new genera. In 1900, Oakes married Blanche Ames (1878-1969) who had graduated with top honors in art from Smith College. Throughout their long marriage, Blanche did many illustrations for Oakes's publications. In 1947, the couple published Drawings of Florida Orchids, with Blanche as first author and Oakes listed as a contributor'a reversal of their usual publication arrangement. The volume included drawings made from early in their marriage up to the time of the publication. Not all the images were scientific illustrations, some were floral landscapes.

Blanche Ames did not limit herself to botanical illustration. She also painted sophisticated portraits, political cartoons, and murals. But it is her botanical work that I am most interested in, and in particular the pen-and-ink illustrations that not only ended up in publications but on herbarium sheets as well. Many of the sheets in the Oakes Ames Herbarium are rich in a diversity of ways of illustrating plants. Yes, they have dried specimens attached to the page, and packets with seeds and other plant structures. But many also have photographs and pencil drawings by Oakes as well as more finished images by Blanche. The sheets are thus the products of this collaboration and documents of a marriage as well as of species. In this paper, I will discuss what these sheets reveal about orchids, art, and feminism, of which Blanche was a staunch proponent.

Broader Impacts:


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Related Links:
Oakes Ames Orchid Herbarium Website


1 - 28 Atlas Ave., Malverne, NY, 11565, USA

Keywords:
Oakes Ames
Blanche Ames
orchids
herbaria
feminism.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 20
Location: Waterman Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 2:30 PM
Number: 20004
Abstract ID:119


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