(left) Mary Lind, later photograph of a painting of the artist age 6.
In 1968, Princeton acquired a collection of nearly 600 botanical watercolors by the British artist Mary Lind (Mrs. James) White made in 1876 during a trip through the United States to China. Her great granddaughter, Lady Berwick of Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, facilitated the acquisition with our curator of Western Americana Alfred Bush.
In a letter to Bush, Lady Berwick writes, “I am delighted to hear that you are pleased with the collection of botanical studies of Californian flora by my great grandmother Mrs. White (née Lind). I wish I could tell you more about her life and travels—all I know is that her husband Mr. James White had a business as a China merchant (teas, etc.) and he took his wife on journeys to China and America, though as they had a family of three or four daughters and five sons, it must have been difficult for her to get away.
Mr. White was [a] member of Parliament (Liberal) for Brighton for many years. Their home was at 8 Thurloe Square, London S.W. Both Mr. & Mrs. White died in 1883, I think. I wish I had a diary or other correspondence in order to give you more facts about Mrs. White—all I have is an album with a few larger flower paintings handsomely bound and inscribed Shanghae [sic] Flowers presented to James White by his wife on his Birthday April 10, 1868. Mr. White was in the U.S. again in the 1870s.”
James White was indeed part of the English Liberal party in the House of Commons between 1857 and 1874. Many of Mary White’s watercolors are dated August 1876 and the box includes a handwritten list of every plant dated 1879, presumably written after she had returned home.
Mary Lind White (1810?-1883), Botanical sketches of California flora, 1876. Watercolors. Graphic Arts 2011- in process