Edgar Dell (1901 - 2008)
Born in England on 28th Nov 1901. Died 18 April 2008 at the age of 106
Edgar Dell migrated to Australia from England in 1924, bought a block of land in the bush in the Darling Ranges at Kalamunda, near Perth, cleared it and established an orchard there. He painted Australian native plants during the Depression years, while earning a living timber cutting in the bush.
They were painted for West Australian Newspapers Ltd, who published one a week as a colour supplement to the Western Mail with a botanical description by the then Government Botanist in Western Australia, the late Charles Gardner. They proved so popular that West Australian Newspapers Ltd published them in book form in 1935 titled 'Western Australian Wildflowers'.
In 1958 this book was revised and enlarged to accommodate 80 of Edgar Dell's watercolours and an expanded text. A number of these 40-year-old watercolours were retained when the book was again revised and re-illustrated for a completely new edition in the early 1970's as 'Wildflowers of Western Australia'.
In 1973, Edgar Dell, then 72, was still living on the orchard which he cut from the bush in the Depression. His interest in flowers then found its outlet in their cultivation. In this he is following a family tradition, for his parents in England combined the culture of plants in a family nursery with painting. His grandfather also, was an artist.
Carol Mansfield (1997), 'Edgar Dell, A Singular Talent', Australian Garden History, Vol 9, No.2, Sept-Oct 1997 pp. 6-8
Obituary by Greg Keighery in Australian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter No.135, June 2008.
For examples of artwork, see: www.anbg.gov.au/gallery/art-by-artist.html
Source: Information supplied by Edgar Dell in 1973. + Pers com Kylie Carse, his grand-daughter, 19/4/08.
Portrait Photo: supplied by the artist to Australian National Botanic Gardens in 1974, taken c. 1972