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Biographical entry Rowan, Marian Ellis (1848 - 1922)

Born
30 July 1848
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died
4 October 1922
Macedon, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Botanical artist, Explorer and Botanical collector
Alternative Names
  • Rowan, Ellis (Also known as)
  • Ryan, Marian Ellis (maiden name)

Summary

Marian Ellis Rowan is best known for her Australian wild flower paintings. The Australian government bought 947 of them in 1923 and the collection is held at the National Library of Australia, together with a portrait of her by John Longstaff.

Details

No formal art training, but encouraged by English relatives whom she visited in 1869 to continue painting wildflowers in her own style, married Frederick Charles Rowan 1873 and moved to New Zealand, returned to Victoria 1877, exhibited her work in international exhibitions in Australia, India, England, Europe and the USA 1879-93, winning 10 gold medals, 15 silver and 4 bronze, travelling and exhibiting in New Zealand, London and the USA 1893-1905, wrote "Flower Hunter in Queensland and New Zealand" 1898, returned to Australia 1905 and searched to find and record every species of wildflower on the continent, visited Papua and New Guinea twice in 1916-18, finding and illustrating many hitherto unclassified flowers and searching for unidentified birds of paradise, exhibited 1,000 paintings in Sydney 1920. Queen Victoria had 3 of her paintings, the South Australian purchased 100 and Queensland 125. Many of her discoveries were classified and named by Ferdinand von Mueller.

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Australian Botanists - Biographies, MS 064; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Books

  • Fullerton, Patricia, The Flower Hunter: Ellis Rowan, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2002, 105 pp. Details
  • McKay, Judith, Ellis Rowan, a flower-hunter in Queensland, Queensland Museum, South Brisbane, 1990, 91 pp. Details
  • Morton-Evans, Christine and Morton-Evans, Michale, The Flower Hunter: the Remarkable Life of Ellis Rowan, Simon & Shuster, Pymble, N.S.W., 2008, 336 pp. Details
  • Norton, Leonie, Women of Flowers: Botanical Art in Australia from the 1830s to the 1960s, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2009, 126 pp. Details
  • Olsen, Penny, Collecting Ladies: Ferdinand von Mueller and Women Botanical Artists, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2012, 248 pp. Details
  • Rowan, Ellis, A Flower-hunter in Queensland and New Zealand, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1898, 272 pp. Details
  • Rowan, Ellis, Flower paintings of Ellis Rowan: from the collection of the National Library of Australia, with an introduction by Margaret Hazzard and notes on the flowers by Helen Hewson, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1982, 20 pp. Details
  • Rowan, Ellis, The flower hunter : the adventures in Northern Australia and New Zealand, of flower painter Ellis Rowan, Collins/Angus & Robertson, North Ryde, NSW, 1991, 216 pp. Details
  • Samuel, H. J., Wild flower hunter, Constable, London, 1961, 152 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Hazzard, Margaret, 'Rowan, Marian Ellis (1848-1922), artist, naturalist and explorer', in Geoffrey Serle (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 11, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1988, pp. 465-466. Also available at http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110473b.htm. Details
  • Kerr, Joan, 'Ellis Rowan (1848-1922) natural history painter', in Heather Radi (ed.), 200 Australian Women: A Redress Anthology, Women's Redress Press Inc, Sydney, 1988. Details
  • Moyal, Ann, 'Collectors and illustrators: women botanists of the nineteenth century', in Carr, D. J. and Carr, S. G. M. (eds), People and Plants in Australia, Academic Press, Sydney, 1981, pp. 333-56. Details

Edited Books

  • McKay, Judith (ed.), Brilliant Careers: Women Collectors and Illustrators in Queensland, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, 1997, 80 pp. Details

Reviews

  • Cohn, Helen M., review of Women of Flowers: Botanical Art in Australia from the 1830s to the 1960s, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 21, 2010, pp. 292-4. Details
  • Cohn, Helen M., review of The Flower Hunter: the Remarkable Life of Ellis Rowan, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 21, 2010, pp. 292-4. Details
  • Cohn, Helen M., review of The Flower Hunter: Ellis Rowan, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 21, 2010, pp. 292-4. Details
  • Maier, H., review of The flower hunter: the remarkable life of Ellis Rowan, Australian Book Review, vol. 304, 2008, p. 40. Details

Online Resources

See also

  • MacInnis, Peter, Curious Minds: the Discoveries of Australian Naturalists, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2012, 213 pp. Details

Rosanne Walker