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Australian-born Margaret Stones (1920–2018) served as a nurse during World War II. During her service, she contracted tuberculosis and was confined to a hospital for several years while she recovered. During this time, Stones discov - ered her passion for botanical drawing. Before the War, she had studied at the Swinburn and the National Gallery, art schools in Melbourne, Australia. Her talent and drive sent her to Surrey, England in 1951, where she began a career as an independent botanical artist. She worked largely with botanists at Kew Gardens.
While engaged at Kew Gardens, collectors com - missioned Stones to create botanical drawings. A Louisiana State University (LSU) professor saw one of those drawings in a New York home and then commissioned a work for his home in Baton Rouge. There, Dr. Gresdna Doty, a fellow LSU professor, saw Stones’ artwork. Due to her fondness for the drawing, Doty arranged to visit Stones on an upcoming trip to England. The two women met and began an eduring friendship that would give Louisiana one of the most scien - tifically significant artistic recordings since John James Audubon published The Birds of America in 1838.
In 1976, Stones came to Baton Rouge to visit Doty and was introduced to Paul W. Murrill, who was the Chancellor of LSU at the time. He was en - thusiastic about her work, and she was equally charmed by the area; by the end of her trip, she accepted a ten-year contract to create 200 bo - tanical prints of native Louisiana flora. Stones’ work has been collected and exhibited by prestigious institutions around the world, most notably of which have been exhibitions at the British Museum and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Margaret Stones, Hydrangea Quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea), Limited edition print of watercolor 33/500, 1979. Print, 22 x 18 inches. Gift of the Baton Rouge Rotary Club. Louisiana Art & Science Museum Collection, 1981.013.002
Stones’ and John James Audubon’s scientifically significant artistic recordings of flora and fauna open and close this publication. True artist-scientists, Stones and Audubon both exemplify LASM’s interdisciplinary mission.
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