Margaret Stones is one of Australia's preeminent twentieth century botanical illustrators.
Margaret Stones was born in Colac Victoria in 1920, and died in Melbourne, Victoria in 2018. She lived and worked in England between 1951 – 2002. Her works are held in public and private collections around the world. QVMAG holds an impressive selection of works by Stones, largely due to a generous donation by Lady Rose Talbot in 1979.
Stones studied industrial and commercial art at Swinburne Technical College and went on to take night classes at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School while earning a living as a commercial artist. After contracting pulmonary tuberculosis in 1945, the artist was confined to bed for a year, during which time she honed her botanical sketching skills by using flowers that visitors had brought her as studies.
In 1951 she moved to London where she became a freelance artist and illustrated specimens for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, where she remained until 2002. Between 1958 to 1983 Stones contributed over 400 illustrations to Curtis's Botanical Magazine, which was first published in 1787 making it the longest running botanical magazine in history.
Following the wonderful reception of Stones' works in The Endemic Flora of Tasmania, Stones was commissioned by the Louisiana State University to create 200 illustrations of native Louisiana flora to be completed over ten years. This work culminated in Stones receiving an honorary doctorate from LSU in 1986.
Margaret Stones' botanical works are marked by her taxonomical accuracy as well as her skilled composition and execution. She is recognised as one of the great artistic contributors to botanical knowledge of the 20th Century.
Left: Margaret Stones, Richea gunnii, 1964, watercolour over pencil on paper. Gift of the Fingal Pastoral Company under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme, 1979. QVM:2006:FD:0396.
Centre: Margaret Stones, Richea procera, 1961, watercolour over pencil on paper. Gift of the Fingal Pastoral Company under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme, 1979. QVM:2006:FD:0401
Right: Margaret Stones, Richea scoparia, date unknown, watercolour over pencil on paper. Gift of the Fingal Pastoral Company under the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme, 1979. QVM:2006:FD:0404