Margaret Mee, queen of the rain forest

Neoregelia concentrica
Neoregelia concentrica

No artist portrayed the beauty of the Brazilian rain forest flowers better than Margaret Mee. This British Botanical painter, one of the finest of the last century, helped publicizing abroad the importance of the country’s biodiversity.

She moved to Brazil in the mid-50s (when she was already 47), where she remained till the end of her life, in 1988. In her 15 expeditions to the Amazon region, plus several to the cerrado (the country’s savanna) and the Atlantic rain forest, Mee produced a detailed images of the country’s flora, namely orchids, bromeliads and cacti.

Lack of comfort, tropical diseases or safety never deterred her – she would walk into rivers, climb trees full of ants and stand under huge tropical storms if that was needed to get the best angle. And to guarantee her safety – she was menaced by gold prospectors once -, she always carried a gun. Frequently, she would navigate the Amazon tributaries in a canoe and enter the jungle by herself. Many of her watercolors reproduce plants that were not yet described by Science and were later named after her.

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Aechmea aquilegia

 

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