• Travel, Science and Natural Hi auction at Christies

    Sale 5489

    Travel, Science and Natural History

    22 April 2010, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 17

    Marian Ellis Rowan (1848-1922)

    Nymphalid butterflies: Twenty-two butterflies, in four columns, all belonging to the genus Taenaris (NYMPHALIDAE subfamily MORPHINAE)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Marian Ellis Rowan (1848-1922)
    Nymphalid butterflies: Twenty-two butterflies, in four columns, all belonging to the genus Taenaris (NYMPHALIDAE subfamily MORPHINAE)
    signed 'Ellis Rowan'
    watercolour with bodycolour on grey paper
    22 x 15in. (55.8 x 38.1cm.)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The butterflies forming this strange group are restricted to the Indo-Australian tropics, with far the greatest number of species being found on New Guinea. The larvae of some Taenaris feed on cycads, which may endow the adults with repellent properties, and be responsible for these butterflies being mimicked by other species (e.g. Hypolimnas deois) and mimicking each other. As a result, even with actual specimens, it can be difficult to determine them to species with confidence. In this fine painting some species are nevertheless recognisable, such as T. catops (1,2), T. gorgo (5,6), T. bioculatus (14,15,18,19), and T. artemis (20,21).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    Provenance

    Blanche (Bli) Ryan, the artist's sister, and thence by descent to Merlin Montagu Douglas Scott; Christie's London, 16 May 1995, lot 208.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION


    MARIAN ELLIS ROWAN'S BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS OF NEW GUINEA

    Rowan set out on her second trip to New Guinea in April 1917. The butterflies and moths of New Guinea all originate from this second visit. Although she hunted and collected butterflies and moths in New Guinea, the numbers she painted in New Guinea and their specimen board layout indicate that many would have been painted from Frederick Parkhurst Dodd's famous collection. She returned home to Macedon with her ambition to paint an exhaustive record of New Guinea's birds of paradise almost realised, having completed 300 sheets of watercolours including 45 of the 52 known species of local birds of paradise, as well as her numerous studies of flowers, butterflies, moths and other insects. A letter written shortly after her return home recorded that she had 'just finished 2,175 butterflies and moths of New Guniea, that means work, as they are difficult to paint.'