Born on 30 June 827 in the village of Green Hills, Hunter Valley, NSW. Died at Duntroon, now ACT, on 2 May 1903.
Marrianne Close was born on 30 June 827 in the village of Green Hills in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. She was one of nine children and the only surviving daughter of Lieutenant Edward Close and his wife, Sophia. Marrianne had a passion for flora and fauna and, with an eye for detail, she recorded many Australian wildflowers.
Lieutenant Close, a talented watercolour artist, gave his daughter lessons in drawing and painting, while Marrianne’s great-aunt Sophia nurtured her work. In her early teens, Marrianne took lessons from the artist Conrad Martens, who influenced her meticulous painting style.
About 1843, at age 16, Marianne began compiling an album, Wildflowers, Fruit & Butterflies of Australia held at the National Library of Australia. The gold embossed, leather-covered album with its hand-painted title page contains many of her exquisite flower and natural history paintings. Marianne continued to add paintings to the album until 1883.
In 1854, Marrianne married her second cousin, 36-year-old George Campbell, who had inherited the family home of Duntroon, near what is now Canberra, in 1846. They lived at Wharf House in Campbell’s Cove, now part of The Rocks area of Sydney, until 1857, when Marrianne, George and their two children moved to Duntroon.
Marrianne transformed the home into an imposing, two-storey Gothic revival house. The gardens were redesigned and planted with numerous exotic and rare blooms, as well as various trees from England and trees collected on Marrianne’s travels. The Australian native plants Telopea speciosissima, various Eucalyptus and Callistemon species grew on the estate.
Marrianne painted native plants from Western Australia, the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and Moreton Bay in Queensland. Many species from one location were often featured in a single painting. The majority of her work, however, was accomplished in and around Duntroon and Sydney.
As a widow in her late fifties, Marrianne devoted much of her time to painting. Many of her albums are still treasured as valuable heirlooms among family in Australia and Scotland.
Marrianne died at Duntroon on 2 May 1903, at the age of 75, and was buried among other Campbell family members in a dedicated enclosure at St John’s Church in Canberra, of which she was a benefactor.
The house at Duntroon did not remain in the Campbell family after Marrianne’s death. After the creation of Canberra as the national capital, the Australian Government acquired the estate and 370 acres (1.5 km2) of land. In 1911, the Royal Military College of Australia was founded at Duntroon, and the original
house became the Officers’ Mess.
Source: Extracted from: Women of Flowers, by Leonie Norton (2009), National Library of Australia