Single leaf (11 6/8 x 8 4/8 inches). Original gouache and watercolour over graphite drawing on paper of the flowering succulent Vriesea erythrodactylon, annotated by Mee in pencil above the image "Vriesea erythrodactylon", and below the image, the date and the location "Oct. 1960 Estacao Biologico Paranapiacaba", and numbered in the top right-hand corner "2 26 26".
Provenance: from the collection of Margaret and Greville Mee; with Henry Sotheran Ltd, "Margaret Mee: works on paper and printed books", 2010, item 15.
A beautiful and early sketch from Mee's visit to the first biological station in South America, Estacao Biologico Paranapiacaba, established in April 26, 1909 as the Biological Station of Alto da Serra by Hermann Friedrich Albrecht von Ihering. The reserve is located on the edges of the plateau of the Serra do Mar, near Paranapiacaba Village in Santo André. Drawn in the same year that Mee won the Royal Horticultural Society's Grenfell Medal for her botanical paintings. The completed painting is part of the Smithsonian Institute's collection, and is illustrated in Ruth L.A. Stiff's Margaret Mee. Return to the Amazon, London: 1996, page 164.
"Unlike Amazon botanical artists before her, Margaret worked entirely from living plants. Her fifteen expeditions into the interior, mostly to Amazonia, involved travelling and living under the most primitive conditions. She would draw at night by torchlight to capture rare nocturnal flowers, and this immediacy gave her paintings an accuracy, depth, and colour unrivalled by her predecessors. Her travels coincided with the beginning of the commercial exploitation of the forest, and she expressed her fury at the damage caused to the land and its peoples" (DNB).
Margaret Mee first visited Brazil in 1952 in order to care for her sister Catherine, who was ill. She soon settled there with her husband Greville Mee and it was a few years later that she made her first expedition up the Amazon. Over the next 32 years she made a number of further trips up the Amazon and in coastal areas of Brazil, some of them lasting for four months. During these years, she continued to paint and draw what she saw and kept diaries of her travels, later published. In 1988, shortly after completing another Amazon trip, Mee came to England to lecture to the Royal Geographic Society and to attend the opening of an exhibition of her paintings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. During this visit, she was tragically killed in a car crash. Catalogued by Kate Hunter