Clara Maria Pope

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Clara Maria Pope
Clara Maria Pope by Victorian School.jpg
Clara Maria Leigh

London, United Kingdom
Died24 December 1838
London, United Kingdom
Known forPainting
Francis Wheatley (m. 1787–1801)

Alexander Pope (m. 1807)

Clara Maria Leigh or Clara Maria Pope (c.1767 – 24 December 1838) was a British painter and botanical artist.

Illustration of camellias by Clara Maria Pope for Samuel Curtis's Monograph on the Genus Camellia, c. 1819.


Born in London, Leigh was christened in 1767 at St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe. Her father was Jared Leigh, an amateur artist.[1][2] She work as an artist's model for a number of years.[2] She married the painter Francis Wheatley, probably in the 1780s, and they had four children.[3]

Leigh began by painting miniatures, and by 1796 she was exhibiting at the Royal Academy.[2] Her husband died in 1801, and Leigh struggled to support her family. An accomplished botanical artist by this stage, her work was noticed for its beauty and accuracy by Samuel Curtis, the publisher of the Botanical Magazine.[2] She created notable full-sized illustrations for Curtis's Botanical Magazine as well as for his other works, Monograph on the Genus Camellia (1819) and The Beauties of Flora .[3] She was supported in her work by the architect Sir John Soane, who commissioned the watercolour The Flowers of Shakespeare (1835), which depicts a bust of the bard in Soane's collection surrounded by all the flowers mentioned in Shakespeare's works.

In 1807, Leigh married the actor and painter Alexander Pope, becoming his third wife. She taught painting, and her students included Princess Sophia of Gloucester and other members of the British aristocracy.[2]

Pope died in London in 1838.


  1. ^ Archbold, W.A.J. "Leigh, Jared (1724–1769)", rev. Kate Retford, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 21 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kramer, Jack 1996. Women of Flowers: A Tribute to Victorian Women Illustrators. New York, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1996.
  3. ^ a b Webster, Mary. "Pope , Clara Maria (bap. 1767, d. 1838)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 21 March 2015.