New acquisition of lucretia hamilton drawings

In 2013, the Herbarium at the University of Arizona received a donation of the original Lucretia Hamilton drawings from Lyman Benson's The Cacti of the United States and Canada. These illustrations, which are a significant addition to the Herbarium's collection of botanical illustrations, were donated by Edward Hamilton, Lucretia’s son, who obtained them from Stanford University and wanted to have them preserved under archival conditions. The donation includes 119 plates of Hamilton’s drawings and 17 plates by Lyman Benson.

Ed Hamilton is a Tamarind Master Printer and owner of Hamilton Press in Venice, California. In addition to his mother’s drawings, he donated a set of 15 black-and-white lithographs that he made from her cacti illustrations. He has hand-colored eight of these lithographs, and in 2012, he donated a set of these to the Florilegium Program to use in its fundraising efforts. These beautiful works have been displayed at several TCSS events and in the Florilegium’s 2013 exhibit, Botanical Art of the Sonoran Desert: Past and Present. Five of the lithographs can be seen here.

James Thomas, Florilegium volunteer extraordinaire, recently completed the process of transferring the Hamilton and Benson illustrations to archival mounting boards. This was an enormous job that involved removing aging tape, glue, and paper and remounting the drawings with archival adhesive corners. The drawings will now be accessioned into the Herbarium’s collection and digitally archived.

With the addition of the donated works by Hamilton and Benson, the Herbarium’s illustration collection now consists of 2,125 works of botanical art. In addition to those by Hamilton and Benson, the collection includes pen and ink illustrations by Patricia Mason, Evelyn Thornber, Wendy Hodgson, Regina Hughes, Kako Morita, Eduardo Salgado, and Bonnie Swarbrick, and some 500 watercolors by Ella Howard Estill.

Here are before-and-after images of one of the recently donated illustrations by Hamilton that show the considerable improvements made to preserve these exceptional works. — Cindy Hartwell

This appeared in the January 2015 issue of the Desert Breeze, the monthly newsletter of the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society.