South African Botanical Artist
Today is the birthday of the South African botanical artist Cythna Letty.
Letty’s mom was a painter and she gave Cythna her first lessons on painting and sketching.
As a small girl, she began creating a book that illustrated all of the flowering plants of her homeland. It took her a lifetime to finish the work and it was finally published in 1962.
Letty captured the wildflowers of Africa with detail and grace. She worked for the Botanical Institute in the Department of Agriculture in South Africa. Based in Pretoria.
In the 1960s as South Africa moved from the English sterling system, Cythna’s work was selected for three coins in South African currency. The 10-cent coin featured the Aloe, the 20-cent featured the Protea which was the National Flower of South Africa. And the 50-cent flower featured the Agapanthus.
Cythna wrote poetry as well. She once wrote:
“I hitched my wagon to a daisy
Direction vague and destination hazy
But, could any star have guided me
more exactly to where I most dearly loved to be?”