Mee, Margaret (1909–1988)

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Mee, Margaret (1909–1988)

English botanical artist and traveler . Name variations: Margaret Ursula Mee. Born in 1909; died in 1988; attended Camberwell School of Art.

Discovering her life's work in mid-life, Margaret Mee first traveled to the forests of the Amazon at the age of 47, but did not settle in Brazil and take up her career as a botanical artist until ten years later. Mee traveled extensively in the Brazilian Amazonia, collecting new species and making paintings of remarkable technical accuracy and delicate beauty. Her renderings, executed in gouache (a type of watercolor), are the only verification left of some species of the area, which have since become extinct. Mee also became an outspoken crusader against destruction of the Amazonia, which she called "a valley of death." In May 1988, shortly before she died, Mee made her last trip up the Amazon River to locate and paint a night-blooming cactus called the "moonflower" (Selenicereus wittii). After tracking down her elusive subject, Mee painted quickly, using only the dim light of a flashlight so as to prevent the flower from fading and closing. Following Mee's death, a trust was established in her name to call attention to the ecological crisis in the area.


Ben-Ari, Elia T. "Better than a thousand words: botanical artists blend science and aesthetics," in BioScience. Vol. 49, no. 8. August 1999, pp. 602–609.