Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born on 1 March 1835 in London, England; died on 26 December 1866 at Willunga, SA.
Fanny de Mole, born in London, was one of eight children, all of whom exhibited artistic talents inherited from their father. She was plagued by ill health in her childhood, and migrated to South Australia in 1857, following her two eldest brothers who had arrived there four years previously.
Fanny produced only one book The Wildflowers of South Australia, published in London in 1861, when she was only 26 years old.
Her stated aim was to depict:
"the flowers with which we daily meet in our own grounds and neighbourhood, and with which we would gladly make our friends in England familiar."
While details of the production process are not fully known, it is believed that Fanny executed the line drawings, which were then sent to London for printing. The lithographed plates were returned to Australia to be hand-coloured by Fanny and other members of her family.
Produced in an edition of about 100 copies, and containing 20 plates, The Wildflowers of South Australia was the first book to illustrate the flora of the colony. Fanny's preface presents itself with undue modesty, claiming that ‘the present work is offered, not as having any botanical pretensions, but simply as a Book of Flowers'. She makes reference to Ferdinand Mueller; however, it is not known whether she corresponded with the botanist.
Fanny de Mole subsequently exhibited flower paintings at the annual exhibitions of the South Australian Society, winning several prizes in the Society's 1865 exhibition.
She died the following year, aged 31, from tuberculosis.
Examples of her artwork:
Centre for Australian Art, Australian Prints and Printmaking database entry for Fanny de Mole. Available online at http://www.printsandprintmaking.gov.au/artists/16414/ [accessed 2 Jan. 2020].
Cowley, Des (2002), "Women's Work: illustrating the natural wonders of the colonies". The La Trobe Journal 69: 11–29. Available online at http://latrobejournal.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-69/t1-g-t3.html [accessed 2 Jan. 2020].
Hewson, Helen (1999), Australia - 300 Years of Botanical Illustration. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
Portrait Photo: Reproduced from Duffy, Helen (1981), Publisher's Note, from facsimile reprint of "Wildflowers of South Australia" (Queensberry Hill Press, Carlton, Vic.). [Image is listed in the Acknowledgments as having been supplied by Mr Ian Perry.]
Book cover: National Gallery of Australia, NGA2006.35.1 (click image to enlarge)