Clarissa Munger Badger (1806-1889) is a famous American botanical illustrator whose work was famous in the mid-19th century. She became famous due to the three volumes of flower paintings she made, accompanied by poetry works. In addition to that, her work was quite unique since she was able to paint on textiles as well.
Luckily, she was born in a family that had a passion for art. Her father was a portrait painter and engraver, and she got the inspiration to become a botanical artist from him. In 1848, she published her first work, A Forget Me Not: Flowers from Nature with Selected Poetry. This volume of poetry featured the likes of Lydia Sigourney, Mary Howitt, William Cullen Bryant and many others. It was published under the name C.M Badger. She managed to illustrate the different works of poetry with 13 of the flower paintings she did. Having done her first work, she decided to publish a book titled; Wild Flowers Drawn and Colored from Nature (was known as The Wild Flowers of America) in 1859 which can be attributed to the previous work she had done. This book was illustrated with 22 plates of the popular flowers such as purple violet, harebell, trailing arbutus and cardinal flower. In addition to that, the book also incorporated poems that most people believed had been personally written by Badger. The introduction featured a renowned poem by Sigourney and the famous poet, Emily Dickinson used to have a copy of the book. During that time, her plates were reproduced plenty of times and in the process she became a top ranking botanical artist.
In 1867, she published her third book titled; Floral Belles from the Green House and Garden, which featured 16 hand-colored lithographic plates that showed two to three flowers in a bouquet. Just like the two previous books she had written, each flower painting was accompanied by a poem precisely written about the flowers.
Clarissa’s had great influence on people who loved paintings, since a sketch of her at the age of 75 shows the ‘feeling and delicacy’ people derived from her watercolors and comes as a surprise to many that she still managed to paint at that age. During those years when she was painting, her male counterparts overshadowed her graceful paintings. However, now she is recognized globally as one of the finest botanical artists that ever existed.
Recent research on archival materials shows that Clarissa also painted on textiles, some of them include; a silk scarf with some roses painted one end and on the other end morning glories and lastly a quilt featuring hand painted flowers.