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Philanthropy in Bloom

Providing Support for Botanical Art and Illustration

By Tania N. Norris

Tania N. Norris

Tania N. Norris

The chance to participate in a botanical art class presented itself about 18 years ago at the Virginia Robinson Gardens, Beverly Hills. I remember thinking, "Painting flowers should be fun." What I found was that my enthusiasm was far greater than my talent, although anyone can paint a flower if they really want to and if they study with the right teachers.

I found that it was the history of the subject that really intrigued me. I fell in love with early herbals. The oldest in my collection is from 1604 and the youngest from the mid-19th century. The composition of the flora in the woodcuts and etchings—some very rudimentary and hardly recognizable—were so intriguing.

The only modern book set, which I gave to The Huntington, is The Highgrove Florilegium, a stunning collection of original watercolors by artists who were invited by the Prince of Wales to capture selected plants from his garden in Gloucestershire. I was privileged to be presented to H.R.H. Prince Charles at Highgrove, and in 2008, to bring the entire collection of original Florilegium artwork to The Huntington for display in the Brody Botanical Center.

My love of gardens, books, and botanical art, ultimately led to the establishment of the Tania N. Norris Endowment for Botanical Art and Illustration at The Huntington. I appreciated how supportive Dr. Jim Folsom, Marge and Sherm Telleen/Marion and Earle Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens, and his staff are of botanical art. The Brody Botanical Center has wonderful facilities, which are so welldesigned, and the classrooms have access to the gardens and every type of flora that artists could wish to paint.

The Tania N. Norris Endowment for Botanical Art and Illustration will support programs, classes, and public lectures, acquisitions, research, and anything that can further the exposure of botanical art, as an art form. I feel that The Huntington is the best place to achieve that goal.

I believe in botanical art and have requested that the endowment can be added to—without restrictions—by anyone who might wish to do so. Several people have already made gifts to the fund, which is most gratifying. Although the endowment has my name, this is really an endowment for all botanical artists and people who love botanical art and illustration.

As the endowment fund is young, and investments take a while to mature, it may be some time before the fruits of the fund are realized, but it is gratifying to know that botanical art and illustration will be supported at The Huntington for generations to come.

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