Ann Lee

Ann Lee was born to a family of Scottish botanists and horticulturalists. James Lee, her father, ran a successful nursery in the Hammersmith area of London, introducing many foreign species to English cultivation. Admired for his encyclopedic knowledge of plants, James communicated with renowned naturalists of his day, including Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), the famed Swedish botanist and zoologist. While some of the Lee children worked in the family business, Ann, the youngest daughter, received an early and rigorous training in the art of botanical illustration. In this drawing, she confidently and accurately renders the plant’s delicate serpentine stem, coarsely toothed leaves, and white blooms accented with distinctive purple lips.

Ann Lee
British, ca. 1753–1790
Mellittis melissophyllum (Bastard Balm), 1771
Opaque watercolor over graphite on vellum
The Morgan Library & Museum; 1978.13