The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2017 > Turkish Tulips > The Hoft Examiner > Rory McEwen

Rory McEwen


Tulip ‘Helen Josephine’ (rose breeder)
1975, watercolour on vellum (ABOVE)

Old English Striped Tulip ‘Sam Barlow’ 1974–76, watercolour on vellum Rory McEwen’s exquisite red tulip has become the face of the exhibition at the Bowes Museum and shares the name of the Museum’s founder, Joséphine.

McEwen was born in Scotland in 1932, the fourth of seven children, and was educated by a governess who ‘instructed us in drawing from nature. I still have some of those drawings... They conjure up freedom and fine weather, tickling trout, bare feet in cool water.’ 

A renaissance creative, this 
contemporary botanical artist made several major contributions to 20th century British culture. The first was as a folk musician and impresario who introduced many forms of American folk music to the UK.

He always had a passion for making art which culminated in an impressive body of horticultural and botanical inspired works that increasingly took up all of his time. His watercolours on vellum are as exquisitely done as any over the last few hundred years, as well as being strangely contemporary. 

For the Turkish Tulips exhibition his family have kindly loaned two tulip works, of many he painted of this symbolic flower. 

Old English Striped Tulip ‘Sam Barlow’
1974–76, watercolour on vellum