Clara Maria Pope
(1768 – 1838)
Iconographie du Genre Camellia
An English artist and artist’s model, the beautiful and talented Clara Pope was born in 1768. In her early years she derived an income from a modeling career, eventually marrying her primary employer, the artist Francis Wheatley.
Pope possessed considerable talent as a painter. By the age of twenty-eight she was exhibiting “miniatures” at the Royal Academy. Widowed at the early age of thirty-three, she returned to modeling to support herself and three daughters. She continued to progress her painting skills throughout this difficult period . She then married for a second time to Alexander Pope, a noted poet and actor of the day.
Clara Pope was also gifted as a portraitist and climbed the social ladder with her talent for painting portraits of those in high society . Eventually Pope was discovered by Samuel Curtis, the famous editor of Curtis’ Botanical Magazine. Curtis commissioned Clara to author the paintings for his planned Monograph on the Family Camellia. The book was published in 1819
Monumental in scale, the color plates measure 24 x 18 inches. The leather-bound folio was comprised of only five hand-colored engravings. Very few copies were sold, probably because of the prohibitive cost. Today the work is recognized as the finest of all the great camellia books. Fewer than ten copies of the complete book are known to exist in the world today.
The set which resides at the library at Kew is unusually well preserved and beautifully colored. The OPPENHEIMER KEW GARDENS EDITION of the Camellias captures these exceedingly rare prints perfectly. Every nuance of Ms. Pope’s genius as a painter is present to behold.
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