Botanicals on Black Paper and Mary Delany

It’s no secret that I love botanical prints. But I really, really love botanicals with black backgrounds.

Jamie’s store, Furbish


It seems like black botanicals are sort of hard to come by? I searched eBay and etsy and then I moved to Amazon. There I stumbled across this book about Mary Delaney.

It sounds like she was a fascinating society woman and artist in her day (the mid-late 1700’s), who, between the ages of 72 and 82, made over 1,000 botanical works constructed almost entirely from cut paper. Can you imagine!?! I am endlessly inspired.

Lucky us, the British Museum allows downloading and printing of their images for personal use! Here are some of Mrs. Delaney’s many works.

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37 thoughts on “Botanicals on Black Paper and Mary Delany

  1. How would you print those so they came out really good though? seems like it might not be very sharp on a normal printer.

  2. You have the most incredible blog. I have learned sooo much from you and your amazing finds. You always seem to have a leg up on the other decorators who just copy one another, or blindly follow Lilly Pulitzer, J. Crew, etc. and act like this is the be all and end all of life!
    Keep up the good work – you are such an inspiration.

  3. Thanks for the BM link! I love these designs, especially the ones with lots of black space. It always surprises me how something almost 300 years old can look so fresh and modern. I'll definitely be printing and hanging a couple of these in my new place!

  4. Love the botanicals! But what also caught my eye is that awesome iron/glass coffee table in the third picture. Any idea where that came from?

  5. Thanks for sharing these. I, too, love botanicals, but the black background on these gives the images more depth. I have just the right place once I print and frame them.

  6. the store J.E.M I blogged about had a bunch of old drawings of small sea life things and I thought of your blog. She said she found them from an old micro biologist. They were super cool.

  7. I think someone asked this in a comment above, but how do you print these? I would like to have a larger one (bigger than my printer could do) – how big can you make them?

  8. Regarding the questions on printing, you just need to take the images (either on a disk or a zip drive) to kinkos or a print shop and they will print out a large size for you. You can also upload the image to target, walmart or walgreen photo sites and they will print larger size prints. But I recommend actually taking the digital image into a shop and talking with the printers about size and specs.

    Also, I cropped a lot on the images on the British Museum site. So, you'll probably have to do the same to get the dimensions right and to get rid of all the non-art stuff in the images.


  9. The Delaney botanicals are amazing. Could imagine the patience?! I also notices some floral on black botanicals on the nypl site you posted about awhile back.

  10. Hi Jenny – found you site while looking at Mrs Delany images on google. I have bought the new book 'Mrs Delany and her Circle' – it is wonderful. I have just had a solo art exhibition in Berlin (I live in Ireland) mainly botanical on dark or black backgrounds – if you are interested … visit
    Thanks for the interesting blog.

  11. FYI – don't buy the book like I did! There are only 5-6 full page pictures of the prints in the whole 250 page book. The rest are small thumbnails and LOTS of text about her and her life. I had planned on cutting out pages, but will definitely be going the printing route!

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  13. I was lucky enough to see some of M.Delaney’s work back in 2009 at the Yale British Museum in New Haven, CT. I have been trying to find prints for our housemaid noticed your blog. Can you let me know how you downloaded the images from the British Museum?

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