In the stores of museums and university departments of mineralogy and crystallography, there are collections of sets of models of crystal shapes. Representing the external form of natural specimens, their use was for identification and demonstration purposes, by scientists, teachers and students from the late eighteenth century onwards. Whilst studying crystal model collections at the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh, I came across the illustration work of Miss Delvalle Lowry. Her name, along with that of her father Wilson, appeared on plates illustrating an 1820 textbook by Nathaniel Larkin, a London teacher of solid geometry. Miss Lowry married the painter John Varley in 1825 and wrote a number of mineralogical texts that were reprinted through the first half of the nineteenth century. Delvalle Lowry was able to enjoy this career not least as a result of her ability to draw. The role of the Society of Arts in encouraging both drawing and the study of crystallography may well have been a feature of her success.
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