This is Anna Frances Walker

By Gwylym Owen

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Anna Frances Walker (1830–1913) was an at the forefront Australian botanical magpie and plant illustrator.

She was born in 1830 at the relatives home “Rhodes” in Concord, New South Wales on the Parramatta River, one of a large family. In 1832, the associates moved to Van Diemen’s Land, where she, like her mother, collected and painted botanical subjects. At the age of 16 or 17, she returned to New South Wales to live later her grandmother, and there she was instructed in watercolour painting by Henry Curzon Allport. After the death of her father (1861), the family returned to the Sydney property, “Rhodes” (1870), where Annie remained for the land of her life.

By August 1881, Anna had combined a considerable body of work, and she contacted Ferdinand von Mueller in Melbourne, for support with identifications and advice just about publishing. Eventually, in 1887, she self-published (Flowers of New South Wales( (a small collection of her paintings), but the destitute quality of the lithographs allow her down (as did her text, which betrayed little botanical understanding). Plants illustrated were: Ceratopetalum gummiferum, Acacia spectabilis, Epacris longiflora, Zieria laevigata, Blandfordia nobilis, Darwinia fascicularis, Ricinocarpos pinifolius, Epacris microphylla, Sprengelia incarnata, Gompholobium grandiflorum, Bauera rubioides, Melaleuca linariifolia, Eriostemon silicifolius, Kennedia monophylla, Clematis glycinoides.

Ultimately, her hoard consisted of some 1700 illustrations of natural world from both Tasmania and New South Wales, painted amongst 1875 and 1910, but she fruitless to find a publisher, and sold her collection (eight volumes) to David Scott Mitchell for £70 in 1910.

The National Herbarium of Victoria (MEL) holds 19 specimens collected by her in New South Wales, and sent to Mueller with the years of 1892 and 1895. (Twenty-one letters from Mueller to Anna survive.)

The Australasian Virtual Herbarium lists seventeen specimens collected by “Walker, A.F.”, all housed at MEL, of which fourteen are fungi and three are plants. Cortinarius walkeri, a fungus, is named for her, and the type specimen is MEL 0220681A, a specimen she collected.

In 1873, she was awarded a gold medal for watercolours of Tasmanian flowers at the London International Exhibition; in the Academy of Arts feint of 1876, a recognize of merit; in the International Exhibition of 1879 (in Sydney), a “Highly Commended”; and at the Melbourne Exhibition of 1880, a first place.

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