Botanicals on Black Paper and Mary Delany

It’s no secret that I love botanical prints. But I really, really love botanicals with black backgrounds.

Jamie’s store, Furbish


It seems like black botanicals are sort of hard to come by? I searched eBay and etsy and then I moved to Amazon. There I stumbled across this book about Mary Delaney.

It sounds like she was a fascinating society woman and artist in her day (the mid-late 1700’s), who, between the ages of 72 and 82, made over 1,000 botanical works constructed almost entirely from cut paper. Can you imagine!?! I am endlessly inspired.

Lucky us, the British Museum allows downloading and printing of their images for personal use! Here are some of Mrs. Delaney’s many works.

  1. That Magnolia makes me happy! I love when I hear stories of women creating in their senior years!

  2. Rene

    These are all so gorgeous and I'm with PVE…my hat is off to creative seniors.

  3. Ava

    How would you print those so they came out really good though? seems like it might not be very sharp on a normal printer.

  4. Lovely. Really like the simple sprig with a few red berries.

  5. You have the most incredible blog. I have learned sooo much from you and your amazing finds. You always seem to have a leg up on the other decorators who just copy one another, or blindly follow Lilly Pulitzer, J. Crew, etc. and act like this is the be all and end all of life!
    Keep up the good work – you are such an inspiration.

  6. Miriam

    Thanks for the BM link! I love these designs, especially the ones with lots of black space. It always surprises me how something almost 300 years old can look so fresh and modern. I'll definitely be printing and hanging a couple of these in my new place!

  7. Wow! These are amazing! I've never seen a black background botanical. I really think they are beautiful. Your ideas are amazing! Always looking forward to reading!

  8. Pretty! I've never seen them on black-what a great twist =)

  9. Nikki

    And now I do too!

  10. That magnolia flower made me jump a little. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Kim

    Love the botanicals! But what also caught my eye is that awesome iron/glass coffee table in the third picture. Any idea where that came from?

  12. Barbie

    How gorgeous! Another great resource!

  13. Those a beautiful!! And AMAZING!!

    I can't believe she did them all between the ages of 72 and 82– what an incredible woman! I am sincerely inspired.

  14. Angie

    Thanks for sharing these. I, too, love botanicals, but the black background on these gives the images more depth. I have just the right place once I print and frame them.

  15. Love it!!! But…. I love those green patterned pillows even more! Any idea where I can find that fabric? Thanks!

  16. i love these! i have 2 old barrel chairs from my grandmother that i recovered in a black fabric with large floral prints on them. it reminds me of British India, so elegant and romantic…

  17. the store J.E.M I blogged about had a bunch of old drawings of small sea life things and I thought of your blog. She said she found them from an old micro biologist. They were super cool.

  18. Lucy

    I think someone asked this in a comment above, but how do you print these? I would like to have a larger one (bigger than my printer could do) – how big can you make them?

  19. Jenny

    Regarding the questions on printing, you just need to take the images (either on a disk or a zip drive) to kinkos or a print shop and they will print out a large size for you. You can also upload the image to target, walmart or walgreen photo sites and they will print larger size prints. But I recommend actually taking the digital image into a shop and talking with the printers about size and specs.

    Also, I cropped a lot on the images on the British Museum site. So, you'll probably have to do the same to get the dimensions right and to get rid of all the non-art stuff in the images.


    • Judy

      Where at British Museum website can you download Delaney prints?

  20. Sarah

    The Delaney botanicals are amazing. Could imagine the patience?! I also notices some floral on black botanicals on the nypl site you posted about awhile back.

  21. You are always so resourceful! I'm with you on black botanical prints…yum.

  22. awesome! thanks for sharing. I recently found some similar images on black backgrounds at

  23. Hi Jenny – found you site while looking at Mrs Delany images on google. I have bought the new book 'Mrs Delany and her Circle' – it is wonderful. I have just had a solo art exhibition in Berlin (I live in Ireland) mainly botanical on dark or black backgrounds – if you are interested … visit
    Thanks for the interesting blog.

  24. FYI – don't buy the book like I did! There are only 5-6 full page pictures of the prints in the whole 250 page book. The rest are small thumbnails and LOTS of text about her and her life. I had planned on cutting out pages, but will definitely be going the printing route!

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