NEWS - Clarence's two exhibitions in Cambridge, 100 years on

Écrit par Marcus Bicknell le .

fitzwilliam floral fantasies1 june2018fitzwilliam floral fantasies2 june2018Clarence Bicknell features in two exhibitions in Cambridge which opened this week (5th June 2018). Both have been timed to join in the celebrations of his centenary. He died 17th July 1918 on the terrace of the Casa Fontanalba in the mountains 3000 feet up and 50kms from Bordighera. You can access the exhibitions more easily! The Fitzwilliam and Trinity are an easy walk, one from the other, down Kings Parade and Trinity Street. Do please make the effort to go now, before 4th July when the Trinity one closes.

Both exhibits feature albums by Clarence never before seen in public, from the Fitzwilliam's archive where they were rediscovered in 2016 (two photos, right) and from the Bicknell family collection.

Exhibition 1
Floral Fantasies, including Clarence Bicknell at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
5 June - 9 September 2018

fitzwilliam floral fantasies3 june2018fitzwilliam floral fantasies4 june2018Susie and I (Marcus) were in Cambridge on Tuesday for the first day of THE EXHIBITIONS which we have been enthusiastically anticipating. Clarence Bicknell is honoured to be in such select company as Walter Crane whose two albums (photos, right) are alongside Clarence's. We are very pleased that Clarence's work, discovered in the Fitzwilliam archives, has such noble acknowledgement. We are grateful to Henrietta "Hettie" Ward, the curator of Floral Fantasies for her work on the exhibition and for showing us (and Georgie Kemsley-Pein of Varsity magazine) round the exhibits, photo below right.

fitzwilliam floral fantasies5 hettie june2018"The Fitzwilliam Museum’s exceptional collection of botanical watercolours and drawings depict an array of posies, bouquets and elaborate floral arrangements. Magnificent roses, hyacinths, magnolias, peonies, fuchsias and irises jostle for attention in the works of Gerard van Spaendonck (1746-1822) and Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). The floral motifs seen in the designs and illustrations of Walter Crane (1845-1915) and Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) similarly draw their inspiration from garden flowers as well as those found in the wild. A selection of Bicknell’s beautiful albums will be on display for the first time. Complemented by floral miniatures, jewellery, Sèvres porcelain and children’s books from the wider collection, the watercolours in this exhibition reveal how artists’ everlasting passion for fitzwilliam floral fantasies poster compressedflowers has manifested itself into a variety of creative forms.

Walter Crane's "A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden" can be seen in the photo above. Hettie Ward took part of this title as the title of the exhibition Floral Fantasy. Clarence owned books by Walter Crane ( and may of course been influenced by him. Or was Clarence ploughing his own furrow?

The Fitzwilliam Museum Trumpington Street Cambridge CB2 1RB
Free admission
Open: Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays: 12.00 – 17.00;
Closed: 24-26 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday"

On Wednesday 20th June 2018 there will be a screening of Marcus Bicknell’s short film (directed by Rémy Masséglia) The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell followed by a joint talk with Graham Avery, The Botanical Art of Clarence Bicknell. 1.15-2pm. Admission is free-of-charge, by token, one per person, available at the Courtyard Entrance desk on a first-come first-served basis from 12.45 on the day of the talk or from Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser. 

On Wednesday 20th June 2018 at 11am Valerie Lester will present her MARVELS – The Life of Clarence Bicknell (Matador, 28th June 2018) in the Courtyard Café of the Fitzwilliam Museum. RSVP Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser. to be certain of your place. Books on sale in the shop.

For media enquires please contact the Fitzwilliam Museum Press Office: Emma Shaw | +44 (0) 1223 332941 | Cette adresse e-mail est protégée contre les robots spammeurs. Vous devez activer le JavaScript pour la visualiser.

Exhibition 2
A Botanical Watercolourist at Trinity: Clarence Bicknell. The Wren Library, Trinity College.
trinity college expo1 june 2018trinity college expo4 june 20185th June - 4th July 2018

Check opening hours at

A second exhibit opened in Cambridge on the same day, 5th June. The Wren Library of Trinity College, University of Cambridge (where Clarence was an undergraduate reading maths but thinking religion from 1861 to 1865), honours Clarence with a complete display case alongside extraordinary medieval parchment treasures and an exhibition of their "livres d'artiste" by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982).

Catch this exhibit quickly because Clarence Bicknell is on for 4 weeks only, closing 4th July 2018.

trinity college expo2 june 2018trinity college expo3 june 2018The display features Clarence's "Book of Guests in Esperanto" and the "Children's Book of Wild Flowers" in their resplendent arts-and-crafts watercolour, and original plates from his "Flowering plants and ferns of the Riviera and neighbouring mountains" with in each case a whimsical kaleidoscopic version painted also by him but 30 years later. Many thanks to Dr Nicolas Bell, Librarian, Trinity College (and Syndic of the Fitzwilliam Museum), who had already discovered Clarence Bicknell and seen the film "The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell" on The Trinity exhibit promotes the Fitzwilliam Museum "Floral Fantasies" exhibition nicely.

trinity college expo5 bell june 2018Nicolas Bell's own blog is well-written and well-illustrated. Click on this link:

Nicolas is with me in the photo left, laying out the exhibits

trinity college expo6 susie june 2018Susie Bicknell admires her handiwork, photo, near right. She selected the exhibition items and wrote the text and captions in cooperation with Nicolas Bell. Very satisfying to see Clarence in such august surroundings.

FaLang translation system by Faboba