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Clarissa Munger Badger (1806–1889) was a mid 19th century American botanical illustrator best known for several volumes of flower paintings, some accompanied by poetry.[1]


Biography


Clarissa Munger Badger, lithograph of tulips from her 1867 book Floral Belles from the Green-House and Garden.

Clarissa W. Munger was born in East Guilford, Connecticut, in 1806 to George Munger, a portrait painter and engraver.[2] Clarissa, her older brother George, and her younger sister Caroline all become artists themselves, with Caroline specializing in portraits like her father and Clarissa in botanical art.[1][3] In 1828, she married the Rev. Milton Badger, who was a minister in Andover, Massachusetts and later became the associate secretary of the American Home Missionary Society, a job requiring him to spend time in the western United States.[4][5] They had five children, of whom two survived to adulthood, both becoming doctors.[4] Milton developed Bright's disease, and the couple moved back Madison, Connecticut, where Clarissa was widowed in 1873.[5]

In 1848, Clarissa Munger Badger privately published A Forget-Me-Not: Flowers from Nature with Selected Poetry, a volume of poetry by William Cullen Bryant, Lydia Sigourney, Mary Howitt, and others illustrated with 13 of her flower paintings. This may have provided a model for her 1859 book Wild Flowers Drawn and Colored from Nature (informally known as The Wild Flowers of America), which was illustrated with 22 plates of individual common flowers such as trailing arbutus, purple violet, cardinal flower, and harebell.[1] The poet Emily Dickinson owned a copy of this book.[6] Clarissa's third book, Floral Belles from the Green-House and Garden, was published in 1867 with 16 hand-colored lithographic plates typically showing two or three flowers in clusters or bouquets. As with her first book, the flower paintings were accompanied by poetry, in this case poems about the flowers depicted.

A sketch written when Badger was 75 remarks on the "feeling and delicacy" of her watercolors and remarks that she was still painting flowers at that advanced age.[4] The popularity of Badger's graceful, stylized paintings in her own day was "dwarfed by her male counterparts; only now is she being applauded as a fine botanical artist".[3]


References

Schroeder, Michael D. "Other 19th and Early 20th C. Artists with Surname 'Munger'". The Gilbert Munger Web Site, August 256, 2006.
Bowman, Mira Chittenden, and Marjorie Lee Chittenden. "The Munger Sisters". Philip S. Platt, ed., Madison's Heritage. Madison, CT: Madison Historical Society, 1964.
Kramer, Jack. Women of Flowers: A Tribute to Victorian Women Illustrators. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1996.
Bailey, Sarah Loring. Historical Sketches of Andover (Comprising the Present Towns of North Andover and Andover), Massachusetts. Ulan Press, 2012.
Coe, D.B. "Milton Badger". The Congregational Quarterly, vol. 17, no. 1 (January 1875), pp. 11-12.
Farr, Judith. The Gardens of Emily Dickinson. Harvard University Press, 2005.

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