Project Description

Images of the elegant, elusive orchid will be showcased in a special exhibition at Berkshire Museum, opening October 12 and slated to be on view through January 6, 2013. The show, Orchid Fever, will feature a selection of photographs by Edwin Hale Lincoln (1848-1938), botanical illustrations by Mary Emily Eaton (1873-1961), and watercolors by Mary Vaux Walcott (1860-1940), all featuring the orchid, as well as live orchids displayed in terrariums. The exhibition is curated by Maria Mingalone, Berkshire Museum director of interpretation.

Orchids, with more than 25,000 species to be found around the world, have fascinated horticulturists, botanists, gardeners, and artists through the ages. In the early 1900s, Massachusetts-born photographer Edwin Hale Lincoln, botanical illustrator Mary Emily Eaton, and watercolorist Mary Vaux Walcott all documented North American wild flowers, with particular attention to the orchid.

Edwin Hale Lincoln’s images of orchids, chosen for this exhibition from his 1931 book Orchids of the North Eastern United States, Photographed from Nature, were captured in the woods and meadows of New England. The photographs were taken using an 8×10 view camera and printed directly from glass negatives onto platinum paper. His pared-down minimalist images were portents of a more modernist style to come in nature photography.

Mary Emily Eaton received her training in the arts in England and then journeyed to Jamaica in 1909, where she lived on a banana plantation run by her brother. Recognition of her paintings of the flora and fauna of the island eventually led to a position as staff artist at the New York Botanical Garden, where she worked from 1914 until 1932. Eaton’s award-winning botanical illustrations are found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, The New York Botanical Garden, National Geographic Society, and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.

Mary Vaux was an amateur botanist, watercolorist, and mountaineer who married Dr. Charles D. Walcott, the noted geologist and Secretary of the Smithsonian. Accompanying her husband on his field studies provided her with the opportunity to study North American flora. Walcott typically sketched while traveling and then finished the watercolors once back home in the East. In an effort to preserve her watercolor sketches, she published in 1925 a five-volume set containing more than four hundred colored lithographic prints of North American Wild Flowers.

Orchid Fever is presented in conjunction with the Berkshire Orchid & Tropical Show to be held October 12-14, 2012, at the Paterson Field House at Berkshire Community College, featuring orchid exhibits, vendors, talks, and workshops. Visit for more information.