Main Narrative » Mushroom Paintings

Violetta White

By Laura Briscoe

Mar 26 2019

Violetta Susan Elizabeth White Delafield (1875–1949) was a promising young mycologist at the turn of the century. After an expatriate childhood in southern France, Violetta's family returned to Connecticut in 1890. As a teenager, Violetta became interested in botany - not only the collection of flowers and mushrooms, but the detailed work of identifying minute structures under the microscope.

She sought mentorship with mycologists L.M. Underwood, of Columbia University and the New York Botanical Garden, and Charles H. Peck of the New York State Museum. She authored several scientific publications that are still used by mycologists today. Her own fungal collections, along with the detailed notes and watercolor paintings she captured along with the mushroom, are very valuable. Several of her collections became type specimens - the collection used by a scientist to describe a species new to science.

Unfortunately, soon after marriage in 1904, Violetta ceased to contribute to the scientific community. Her legacy lives on in her collections stored in the New York Botanical Garden's Fungal Herbarium, accompanied by her watercolor illustrations.