State Library of NSW

Aglaosoma lauta & Cerura Australis, 1864


Talented sisters produce botanical illustrations

Father Knows Best

Aglaosoma lauta & Cerura Australis, 1864Harriet Scott (1830–1907) and her sister Helena (1832–1910) were the daughters of Alexander Walter Scott, entomologist and failed entrepreneur. They were both skilled naturalists and illustrators frustrated by the circumstance of their class and social position. Their father’s unsuccessful business activities forced them to rely on their artistic talents to earn their livelihood. But no matter how impoverished their upper-middle-class father found himself, he would not allow them to accept commissions openly, sign their own published drawings or be formally educated.

When their father finally approved their actually signing their published drawings, Helena wrote, ‘Oh! you cannot think how thankful I am that my dear father allows me to place my name to the drawings. It makes me feel twice as much pleasure while painting them.’

Both Harriet’s and Helena’s signed drawings appear in their father’s Australian Lepidoptera. This work illustrates the insects in their various stages of metamorphosis, in the environment in which they lived. It established the sisters’ reputation as illustrators.
Display item Aglaosoma lauta & Cerura Australis, 1864


< Previous Exhibit | Back to The Exhibits page | Next Exhibit >