Twice widowed, English artist Mary Delany (1700-1788) took up a remarkable new career in her 70s: She created a series of detailed and botanically accurate portraits of plants, devising them from tissue paper and coloring them by hand:
With the plant specimen set before her she cut minute particles of coloured paper to represent the petals, stamens, calyx, leaves, veins, stalk and other parts of the plant, and, using lighter and darker paper to form the shading, she stuck them on a black background. By placing one piece of paper upon another she sometimes built up several layers and in a complete picture there might be hundreds of pieces to form one plant. It is thought she first dissected each plant so that she might examine it carefully for accurate portrayal …
She kept it up until she lost her eyesight at 88, filling 10 volumes with 985 of these “paper mosaiks.” Eventually they were bequeathed to the British Museum.
(Ruth Hayden, Mrs Delany: Her Life and Her Flowers, 1980.)