Mary Butler was a watercolour artist of landscapes and, as in this picture, of flowers. Not much is known about this artist except that she was living in London in 1880, and in north Wales and Devon in the late 1880s. She was apparently in Natal, South Africa in about 1909 where presumably this picture was painted. The flowers are those of the Coral Tree (Erythrina, probably E.Latissima or E.Lysistemon). There is an old legend about a Zulu Impi (fighting regiment), who wore red feathered headdresses. They had so much pride in their looks and prowess that their egos became over inflated. The Sangoma (witch doctor) got fed up with their constant boasting and to punish them he changed them into the flowers of the Coral Tree so that all could see their finery for ever more. Other examples of the work of Mary Butler are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
The painting below is another example of her work, again probably painted in South Africa and given to her host there.
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