(Editor’s Word: Forest entomologist Malcolm Furniss of Moscow, Idaho, researched the lifetime of famous scientific illustrator Mary Foley Benson, 1905-1992. In her later years, she served as an illustrator for the UC Davis Division of Entomology.)
Fig. 1. Drawing by Mary Foley of Coeloides dendroctoni, a braconid parasite of larvae of the mountain pine beetle. (De Leon 1934).
By Malcolm M. Furniss
My introduction to the work of scientific illustrator Mary Foley Benson (1905–1992) was happenstance. I’m a forest entomologist, engaged for a few years in analysis on bark beetles and related organisms, together with parasitoid Hymenoptera. Since 1963, I’ve resided in Moscow, Idaho, and have had ties with the previous Bureau of Entomology laboratory at Coeur d’Alene, 90 miles to the north. There, Donald De Leon had studied Coeloides dendroctoni Cushman, a braconid preying on larvae of a scolytine, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, in western white pine. Whereas studying his publication on the braconid’s biology, I admired the drawing of a feminine wasp credited to Mary Foley (Fig. 1). A colleague famous my curiosity about this artist and referred to as my consideration to a photograph of her in 1926 at age 21 (Fig. 2), when she was employed as a scientific illustrator with USDA. Subsequent inquiry led to discovering Mary’s connections to entomology, together with shut acquaintance of the famend Smithsonian Diptera taxonomist, John Merton Aldrich (1866–1934) (Fig. 3). I share right here an account of Mary’s life, concluding along with her discovering success and assist locally of Davis, California.
Fig. 3. John Merton Aldrich (1866 – 1934), turned curator of Diptera at Smithsonian in 1918. Aldrich and Mary Foley’s household had been pals and he helped her get a job as scientific illustrator. (College of Idaho Particular Collections and Archives)
College Instructor’s Encouragement Leads Mary to Research Artwork with Assist of Dipterist John Aldrich
Mary Carilla Foley was born on 2 April 1905 at Storm Lake, Buena Vista County, Iowa, to Man William Foley and Cora Helen Walrod. She had a brother, Charles, who had a flying service at Roosevelt Area, Lengthy Island, and who had a pivotal position in her early grownup life. Mary’s inherent inventive expertise turned obvious whereas in first grade when her drawing of a pet drew reward from her trainer (Wellings 1992). From then on, Mary made artwork her life and by no means forgot that trainer’s encouragement.
At age 17, she left her Midwest roots to dwell with shut household pals, John Aldrich and his spouse, Della, in Washington, DC. Her intent was to go to artwork faculty—till then, she had been largely self-taught—however first, she needed to earn tuition cash. “Uncle Merton,” as she fondly referred to Aldrich, bought her a job as an entomological draftsman with the USDA Bureau of Entomology. She discovered rapidly and finally turned Chief Scientific Illustrator. In evenings, she took artwork courses, graduating from the Nationwide College of Wonderful and Utilized Arts and later attended the Corcoran College of Artwork. The closeness of Mary and Aldrich was like father and daughter. The tragic lack of his younger son (Furniss 2010) could have affected his emotions for Mary, who wouldn’t have been a lot older.
Street Journey West with John and Della Aldrich, 1927
Mary and the Aldriches departed Washington on 29 Might 1927 (9 days after Lindberg’s Atlantic flight) of their Chevrolet (Fig. 4) coach loaded down with tenting gear and headed throughout the continent on an journey of their very own. Aldrich stored a meticulous, detailed diary. A typed copy was found on the College of Idaho, Division of Entomology after his demise and printed by Paul Arnaud Jr. (Aldrich 2001). References to Mary seem all through the diary and supply uncommon private recollections of her. Her family members and her closest pal, Margaret Hoyt, had handed away previous to my curiosity in her biography.
Driving was shared; nevertheless, it turned obvious that Mary appreciated to drive and John usually complimented her talent, so she drove essentially the most. Two days into the journey, Aldrich famous: “Mary made quick time, conserving round 45.” Mary had little alternative to color till they reached the Rocky Mountains and a spot named Wagon Tongue the place Aldrich started accumulating flies. Right here she made water colour work of a flower (Doedecatheon) and others not recognized. Later, close to Wells, Nevada, John packed up two Schmitt packing containers pinned thus far on the journey and mailed them with a number of small packing containers of unmounted flies to Washington: “… some hundreds of Diptera to be labored over later at dwelling. Some good issues there, I do know.”
Finally, they reached California and entered Yosemite Nationwide Park by way of Tioga Go on July 4, having to drive over a patch of remnant snow. Nearing Bridal Veil, they got here to a bear beside the highway being fed by others. Mary stepped ahead to get in a photograph, however the bear was within the shade. Aldrich requested her to maneuver the bear into the solar. As she got here near him, he gave her a chew above the knee; nevertheless, it solely roughened the pores and skin. Afterward, they made gentle of the episode.
Mary departed at Portland by prepare to return to her job. As John and Della drove up the scenic Columbia River freeway heading for Moscow, they reminisced about her and missed having her firm; they wished that she may very well be there at each flip. After hundreds of miles cramped collectively, she had, certainly, change into household!
John Aldrich had met and married Della Smith in Moscow after the premature demise of his first spouse, Ellen Roe, and toddler son, Spencer. The Aldriches had been in Moscow from 19 July to 4 August 1927, visiting Della’s family members and a few of his acquaintances from his time on the College of Idaho, 1893–1913. On 2 September, the vacationers reached dwelling after being gone since 29 Might. Aldrich died seven years later whereas finishing plans to begin early in June on one other of his biennial accumulating journeys to the Pacific Coast. He was buried beside Ellen and son Spencer within the cemetery at Moscow.
Mary’s job on the Bureau of Entomology included portray insect-damaged crop crops reminiscent of appeared within the 1952 Yearbook of Agriculture (USDA 1952). Maybe to interrupt the boredom, she painted a parade of striped cucumber beetles throughout the workplace wall. Her boss was not amused (Wellings 1992). That part of her life modified with marriage to Russell Benson, a patent lawyer and engineer with the US Patent Workplace, in 1928 and beginning of a son, John, in 1931. In a Washington Submit interview (Lewis 1937), she appeared to be residing a traditional lifetime of a lady of the time “… conserving a house for her husband and small son, doing a lot of the cooking and making most of her personal garments.” That they had designed their home in Georgian Colonial fashion with a studio for her portray. In the course of the earlier summer season, she had laid a flagstone terrace whereas Russell constructed an outside fire. Nevertheless, their relationship was much less tranquil than it was portrayed.
4 years after her marriage, Mary had been given her first airplane experience by her brother, Charles, who had cost of one of many hangars at Roosevelt Area, Lengthy Island (from the place Lindberg had taken off on his Atlantic flight in 1927). That have led to her taking flying classes on the School Park, MD airport two or thrice per week till receiving her pilot’s license. Interviewed in later years, she divulged that she had stored her flying classes secret from Russell (Wellings 1992). The wedding had change into anxious and she or he discovered flying to be a terrific outlet from her exacting artwork work and her difficulties at dwelling: “After I was flying, I left all my hassle on the bottom. There was no one up there however God and me.”
When Mary soloed in 1937, Charles gave her a J-2 Cub (Fig. 5). Her spirited nature confirmed in her flying: “I used to have such enjoyable with it. Earlier than I’d land, I’d wind it up with three big loops in a row earlier than they instructed me to not [not designed for aerobatics] (Haag 1983).” Proudly owning an airplane expanded her involvement with flying. She turned lively in aviation organizations, together with membership in The Ninety-Nines, a world group for licensed girls pilots based by Amelia Earhart. She additionally joined the Washington Air Derby Affiliation and positioned second in her first air race, at School Park in Might 1939 (Lewis 1937).
As World Warfare II loomed, Mary’s marriage was ending. Her son was in boarding faculty, so she joined Charles at his aviation enterprise at Roosevelt Area, studied radio and navigation, turned a member of the Civil Air Patrol and started ferrying airplanes for the Warfare Coaching Service (Wellings 1992). She didn’t converse of her ferrying experiences apart from saying that townsfolk got here to see the lady flier after she was compelled to land in a farm pasture and was ready for a brand new propeller. She enlisted within the Girls’s Military Corps on 9 September 1943 and instructed navigation to bomber crews in an on-ground Hyperlink Celestial Navigation Coach. She regretted that ladies pilots weren’t allowed then to show within the air.
When conflict ended, Mary relocated to Los Angeles the place she attended Otis School of Artwork and Design from 1948–1951. Her coaching included instruction from Norman Rockwell, who spent the winter months there as artist-in-residence: “He was a beautiful individual, with a fantastic humorousness, and a scientific illustrator in addition to a historian” (Tracy 1977). Afterward, she was a free-lance illustrator at Benson Studios. Nevertheless, she didn’t appeal to the eye of newspaper reporters the way in which she had at Washington.
Dwelling at Final … Davis
An incredible change got here in 1964, when she was employed by Howard McKenzie on the College of California, Davis, as an illustrator for his monumental e book on mealybugs (McKenzie 1967). She should have impressed him along with her renditions of clearwing moths in Bulletin 190 of the U.S. Nationwide Museum (Engelhardt 1946) (Fig. 6). That publication incorporates 167 of her watercolor work of grownup female and male clearwing moths and 87 line drawings of their genitalia. The work are eye-catching. When my nephew, Sean Furniss, noticed them among the many Engelhardt holdings on the Smithsonian, he was impressed with how actual they appeared. I marvel that anybody may seize such pure colours by mixing pigment and rendering such life-like photos with a brush.
Mary painted and drew mealybug illustrations for Howard McKenzie till his demise in 1968. His 526-page treatise of California species has interspersed amongst its pages 21 of her watercolor work of species of their plant habitats (Fig. 7). The e book additionally consists of lots of her line drawings of microscope slides of holotype grownup females, break up longitudinally by dorsal and ventral views (Fig. 8). The drawings embrace minute element solely seen by microscope at excessive magnification. Mary had change into expert in microscopy and, though not formally skilled in entomology, she needed to have discovered a lot technical element about what she was requested to attract. After McKenzie died, Douglass Miller accomplished two joint manuscripts containing illustrations by Mary (Miller and McKenzie 1971, 1973). Earlier, she had illustrated mealybugs within the monograph on the genus Asterolecanium by Russell (1941).
Announcement of publication of McKenzie’s e book famous that it had been illustrated by Mary and included her pedigree relationship to her employment with USDA Bureau of Entomology in Washington DC throughout 1922-1928 as Chief Scientific Illustrator. Her presence locally had already change into recognized by her participation in Chamber of Commerce occasions, educating portray methods via the Davis grownup schooling program and scientific illustration via the College of California Cooperative Extension.
Fig. 9. This portray by Mary Foley Benson was for Harry Lange for instance a proposed e book on bugs infesting California crops. Harry thought that the insect appeared too small when painted on the identical scale because the plant. The issue was resolved by superimposing an enlarged “wanting glass” view of the insect. (Ellen Lange Photograph)
Within the years after McKenzie’s demise, she contracted a portray venture for Harry Lange for instance a e book on bugs infesting California crops. The concept was to indicate each the insect and its host plant in life like vogue. Nevertheless, when Mary portrayed the plant, the accompanying insect was on the identical scale, a lot too little to go well with entomologist Lange. His spouse, Ellen Lange, recollects that, “An actual drawback with depicting bugs and crops is the distinction in measurement. Harry Lange used to have battles with Mary in regards to the crops being too huge, i.e., emphasis on the crops versus the bugs.” They resolved the issue by superimposing a “magnifying glass” to enlarge the insect (Fig. 9). The proposed publication by no means materialized; her 55 work are saved within the Bohart Museum of Entomology at Davis. In wanting again, such work (and to some extent, drawings) had been being changed by digital images and scanning electron microscopy.
Having retired from the Division of Entomology work, Mary (Fig. 10) stated: “For the primary time in my life, I can paint what I really feel like portray most. I’ve all the time needed to color wildflowers, particularly California wildflowers.” (Barr, 1992). She set about doing simply that and put her work on show on the market at public locations, step by step growing a faithful following. “That is the best place on the planet for me. I get such assist from the folks of Davis. They dangle my work throughout city.” (Haag 1983).
An occasion in 1983 topped her rise to prominence past the Davis neighborhood. On the Smithsonian’s invitation, 45 of her work had been displayed there throughout Might-June, entitled, “Work of California Flora.” In her letter of 20 November 1982 to Officer of Displays, William Haase, she listed the work, a few of which included bugs, that had been to be despatched and steered the title California Flora for the exhibit. She singled out two of the work that merited particular consideration: “The Golden Lupine (Fig. 11) which grows round Davis, alongside the railroad observe. It’s virtually extinct within the wild. There may be some discuss of constructing it the Davis metropolis flower.” (She subsequently donated the unique watercolor portray to the town.) And, “The second portray is the California poppy and wild oats. I had hoped to provide it to our First Woman, Nancy Reagan, however couldn’t resolve simply learn how to go about it. It appeared applicable for the reason that poppy is our state flower.” The letter concluded with a query concerning who ought to print the brochure for the present and that the work can be shipped by truck. She requested that, after the present, they need to be despatched to her residence at 1408 Claremont Drive, Davis. Nobody whom I contacted knew of the destiny of those work. Nevertheless, she evidently had prints fabricated from some on the market. I famous one in every of her work being resold by Valley Public sale on the Web; it was quantity 123 of 500, entitled, “Indian Paint Brush and Fiddleback,” gathered from a vacant lot close to her dwelling. It portrays her eloquent, simplistic fashion that’s so interesting to me.
Her dream of a Smithsonian exhibit having come true was well timed. Her eyesight started failing quickly after. She stored on portray however outcomes had been extra summary. Throughout these difficult last years, she stored a constructive outlook. As recalled in her obituary (Barr 1982) she stated, “Life is sort of a stream; should you attain a stone you go round it. So now, I am transferring on after the stone.” Mary died at Davis on 18 June 1992 at age 87.
Sandra Kegley, Coeur d’Alene, ID, supplied Fig. 2, which recognized Mary and thereby initiated my curiosity in pursuing this text. Sean and Martha Furniss, Reston, VA, supplied newspaper articles and searched the Smithsonian archives for details about Mary. Ellen Lange, Davis, CA, supplied private recollections of Mary and of her work for Harry Lange. Lynn Kimsey, Bohart Museum of Entomology, College of California, Davis, supplied obituaries of Mary and a list of Mary’s work saved there. Amy Thompson, Particular Collections and Archives Library, College of Idaho, supplied the photograph of Aldrich. Luc Leblanc, W.F. Barr Entomological Museum, College of Idaho, loaned references regarding Aldrich and Mary from the museum library. The manuscript was reviewed by Sandra Kegley, Ellen Lange, Linwood Laughy, and Douglass R. Miller, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA, Beltsville, MD.
Aldrich, J. M. 2001. Diary of a Western Journey, 1927. Myia – A publication on entomology 6:235-301. California Academy of Sciences.
Barr, P. 1992. Outstanding Davis Artist Dies. Davis Enterprise. June 22.
De Leon, D. 1934. The Morphology of Coeloides dendroctoni Cushman (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Journal New York Entomological Society. XLII: 297-317.
Engelhardt, G. P. 1946. The North American Clear-Wing Moths of the Household Aegeriidae. Bulletin 90. U. S. Nationwide Museum. 222 pp.
Furniss, M. M. 2010. John Merton Aldrich (1866-1934) – A Forest Entomologist’s View of Idaho’s Famend Fly Taxonomist. Latah Legacy 38:18-23.
Haag, J. 1983. A Californian’s Floral Fantasy. The Sacramento Bee. July 24.
Lewis, R. 1937. Vocation and Avocation Mixed by D. C. Artist. The Washington Submit. October 17.
McKenzie, H. L. 1967. Mealybugs of California with Taxonomy, Biology and Management of North American Species (Homoptera: Coccoidea: Pseudococcidae). College of California Press, Berkeley. 525 pp.
Miller D. R., and H. L. McKenzie. 1971. Sixth Taxonomic Research of North American Mealybugs with Extra Species from South America. Hilgardia. 40:565-602.
Miller, D. R., and H. L. McKenzie, 1973. Seventh Taxonomic Research of North American Mealybugs (Homoptera: Coccoidea: Pseudococcidae). Hilgardia 41: 489-542.
Russell, L. M. 1941. A Classification of the Scale Insect Genus Asterolecanium. U.S. Division of Agriculture, Miscellaneous Publications 424: 1-319
Tracy R. L. 1977. Mary Foley Benson. Her Wildflower Work Are “Expression of Gratitude” The Sacramento Bee. August 20, 1977.
USDA 1952. The Yearbook of Agriculture. U.S. Authorities Printing Workplace.
Wellings, M. 1992. Davis Has Misplaced a Free Spirit. The Davis Enterprise. June 23.