NEWS - Clarence's two exhibitions in Cambridge, 100 years on

fitzwilliam floral fantasies1 june2018fitzwilliam floral fantasies2 june2018Clarence Bicknell features in two exhibitions in Cambridge which opened this week (5th June 2018). Both have been timed to join in the celebrations of his centenary. He died 17th July 1918 on the terrace of the Casa Fontanalba in the mountains 3000 feet up and 50kms from Bordighera. You can access the exhibitions more easily! The Fitzwilliam and Trinity are an easy walk, one from the other, down Kings Parade and Trinity Street. Do please make the effort to go now, before 4th July when the Trinity one closes.

Both exhibits feature albums by Clarence never before seen in public, from the Fitzwilliam's archive where they were rediscovered in 2016 (two photos, right) and from the Bicknell family collection.

Exhibition 1
Floral Fantasies, including Clarence Bicknell at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
5 June - 9 September 2018

fitzwilliam floral fantasies3 june2018fitzwilliam floral fantasies4 june2018Susie and I (Marcus) were in Cambridge on Tuesday for the first day of THE EXHIBITIONS which we have been enthusiastically anticipating. Clarence Bicknell is honoured to be in such select company as Walter Crane whose two albums (photos, right) are alongside Clarence's. We are very pleased that Clarence's work, discovered in the Fitzwilliam archives, has such noble acknowledgement. We are grateful to Henrietta "Hettie" Ward, the curator of Floral Fantasies for her work on the exhibition and for showing us (and Georgie Kemsley-Pein of Varsity magazine) round the exhibits, photo below right.

fitzwilliam floral fantasies5 hettie june2018"The Fitzwilliam Museum’s exceptional collection of botanical watercolours and drawings depict an array of posies, bouquets and elaborate floral arrangements. Magnificent roses, hyacinths, magnolias, peonies, fuchsias and irises jostle for attention in the works of Gerard van Spaendonck (1746-1822) and Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). The floral motifs seen in the designs and illustrations of Walter Crane (1845-1915) and Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) similarly draw their inspiration from garden flowers as well as those found in the wild. A selection of Bicknell’s beautiful albums will be on display for the first time. Complemented by floral miniatures, jewellery, Sèvres porcelain and children’s books from the wider collection, the watercolours in this exhibition reveal how artists’ everlasting passion for fitzwilliam floral fantasies poster compressedflowers has manifested itself into a variety of creative forms.

Walter Crane's "A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden" can be seen in the photo above. Hettie Ward took part of this title as the title of the exhibition Floral Fantasy. Clarence owned books by Walter Crane ( and may of course been influenced by him. Or was Clarence ploughing his own furrow?

The Fitzwilliam Museum Trumpington Street Cambridge CB2 1RB
Free admission
Open: Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00 - 17.00, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays: 12.00 – 17.00;
Closed: 24-26 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday"

On Wednesday 20th June 2018 there will be a screening of Marcus Bicknell’s short film (directed by Rémy Masséglia) The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell followed by a joint talk with Graham Avery, The Botanical Art of Clarence Bicknell. 1.15-2pm. Admission is free-of-charge, by token, one per person, available at the Courtyard Entrance desk on a first-come first-served basis from 12.45 on the day of the talk or from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

On Wednesday 20th June 2018 at 11am Valerie Lester will present her MARVELS – The Life of Clarence Bicknell (Matador, 28th June 2018) in the Courtyard Café of the Fitzwilliam Museum. RSVP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be certain of your place. Books on sale in the shop.

For media enquires please contact the Fitzwilliam Museum Press Office: Emma Shaw | +44 (0) 1223 332941 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Exhibition 2
A Botanical Watercolourist at Trinity: Clarence Bicknell. The Wren Library, Trinity College.
trinity college expo1 june 2018trinity college expo4 june 20185th June - 4th July 2018

Check opening hours at

A second exhibit opened in Cambridge on the same day, 5th June. The Wren Library of Trinity College, University of Cambridge (where Clarence was an undergraduate reading maths but thinking religion from 1861 to 1865), honours Clarence with a complete display case alongside extraordinary medieval parchment treasures and an exhibition of their "livres d'artiste" by Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982).

Catch this exhibit quickly because Clarence Bicknell is on for 4 weeks only, closing 4th July 2018.

trinity college expo2 june 2018trinity college expo3 june 2018The display features Clarence's "Book of Guests in Esperanto" and the "Children's Book of Wild Flowers" in their resplendent arts-and-crafts watercolour, and original plates from his "Flowering plants and ferns of the Riviera and neighbouring mountains" with in each case a whimsical kaleidoscopic version painted also by him but 30 years later. Many thanks to Dr Nicolas Bell, Librarian, Trinity College (and Syndic of the Fitzwilliam Museum), who had already discovered Clarence Bicknell and seen the film "The Marvels of Clarence Bicknell" on The Trinity exhibit promotes the Fitzwilliam Museum "Floral Fantasies" exhibition nicely.

trinity college expo5 bell june 2018Nicolas Bell's own blog is well-written and well-illustrated. Click on this link:

Nicolas is with me in the photo left, laying out the exhibits

trinity college expo6 susie june 2018Susie Bicknell admires her handiwork, photo, near right. She selected the exhibition items and wrote the text and captions in cooperation with Nicolas Bell. Very satisfying to see Clarence in such august surroundings.

NEWS - AGM of the Clarence Bicknell Association

We hereby give notice that the Annual General Meeting of the Clarence Bicknell Association will be held on Friday 13th July 2018 at 11am in the Musée des Merveilles, Avenue du 15 Septembre 1947, Tende 06430 France courtesy of the museum's director Charles Turcat and the Département des Alpes-Maritimes.

This meeting is open to members and honorary members of the association. You can join at >association. The meeting will be in English but questions from the floor can be accepted and answered in French and Italian. The museum's exhibition "Les Merveilles de Clarence", jointly curated by Susie Bicknell, opens the same day and there will be visits hosted by one or more Bicknell at 14h30 and 16h00 on Friday 13 July 2018. See other events in our list at but note that the events organised by the Mairie de Tende 15,16,17 July remain unconfirmed.

This meeting is provided for in the statutes of the association which you can read at   Other relevant documents can be consulted on the same downloads page. The 2017 accounts will be posted before 13 July.

Please note that "Officers will normally serve a term of two years other than the Chairman who a) till the end of 2018 shall be a family relation of Clarence Bicknell and b) shall serve a term of four years. The Chairman may be reappointed for further terms." Marcus Bicknell (chairman), Susie Bicknell (secretary) and Graham Avery (vice-Chairman) have agreed to stand for a further term (4 years in the case of the Chairman and 2 years in the case of other officers (statutes III.4).

Proxy votes...

The only decisions known in advance are the re-elections of officers (committee members). If you are a member and would like to vote by email please send your vote to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. naming the officers for whom you would like to vote. The present committee is:

Chairman  Marcus Bicknell   Clarence relation, researcher, member of the board of SES in Luxembourg till April 2018 and of other companies in media and technology. Student of all things Clarence and webmaster. Based northwest of London, UK
Vice-Chairman  Graham Avery   Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission, Brussels. His interests include archaeology, mountain-walking, botany, researching and writing on those topics. Based Oxford
Treasurer  Geoff Bicknell   Chartered accountant and international business man. From January 2015
Secretary  Susie Bicknell   Writer, researcher. Based northwest of London, UK
Committee member  Christopher Chippindale  Archaeologist, writer, researcher. Based Cambridge
Committee member  Valerie Browne Lester  Clarence relation, writer, researcher. Based near Boston USA.
Committee member  Maria Pia Luly-Jones  Nature artist, based Bordighera
Committee member  Helen Blanc-Francard  Writer, researcher, garden expert. Based north of Paris.
Committee member  Titus Bicknell  Exhibitions, conferences, new media professional, Washington DC. From January 2015.

If you would like to stand, to propose a candidate or to propose an item for the agenda, please email or phone us.

13 juillet 2018. Tende: 11h Assemblée Générale de l'Association Clarence Bicknell, ouverte aux membres, en anglais, dans la salle des conférences du Musée des Merveilles. Tende: Ouverture de l'exposition Les Merveilles de Clarence au Musée des Merveilles, Tende (jusqu'à la fin septembre). 14h30 et 16h00: Tours guidés “Un Moment Avec Bicknell” assurés par la famille Bicknell (Org Musée des Merveilles).



Marcus Bicknell, Chairman

Association Clarence Bicknell
Clarence Bicknell Association
Associazione Clarence BicknellCBA logo

Homefarm Orchard, Kirby Close, Threehouseholds, Chalfont St Giles, Bucks HP8 4FF, UK
phone 01494 872751 - mobile 07748 111444 - Skype mbicknell


Chateau de Castellaras, 333 Allée du Domaine, Mouans-Sartoux,  06370 France


NEWS - Emile Burnat - the Film

Il Sentero delle Orchidee CassetteIn 1997 the Museo Nazionale della Montagna of the Club Alpino Italiano produced a documentary film in Italian on Clarence Bicknell's friend, the Swiss botanist Emile Burnat entitled Il sentiero delle orchidee - Emile Burnat in Valle Pesio. You can now view the film at

The film opens with Burnat at the age of 80 reminiscing about his botanical exploits in the mountains, and continues with a series of flashbacks to episodes of his life. Burnat says he has never found the rare orchid Cypripedium calceolus, which is seen in close-up at the beginning and end of the film. Burnat laments that it is ‘a flower found only by Bicknell, about which I dream’. It was in 1899 that Clarence Bicknell found the plant in Val di Pesio, and wrote to Burnat about it. Then in 1912 Burnat found it himself near Certosa di Pesio. Later it was considered extinct in Val di Pesio until finally it was rediscovered in 1992, thanks to Bicknell’s letter to Burnat describing where he found it.

emile burnat

Read the comments of Graham Avery, whom we thank for his contribution, and a summary of the film at Emile Burnat - the Film

RESEARCH - Cima Bicknell: its name and its whereabouts

cima bicknell cardGraham Avery wrote on 26th March 2018 to M. Jean-Félix Gandioli as follows. M. Gandioli is Attaché Scientifique au Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Nice and is mounting an exhibition in October 2018 entitled "Botanistes et Alpinistes dans les Alpes maritimes entre les deux siècles". There is also a link between the subjects of the exhibition (Antoine Risso, Justin Montolivo, Jean-Baptiste Barla, Emile Burnat, Clarence Bicknell) in that they each have an alpine mountain named after them.

    "Bonjour M. Gandioli.

    "Mon ami Marcus Bicknell m’a demandé de répondre à votre question concernant l’origine du nom de montagne ‘Cime Bicknell’. Ci-joint un extrait de l’article publié par Fritz Mader dans la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano en 1908 dans lequel il relate une excursion dans le Val Fontanalba en septembre 1907 suite à laquelle il a donné le nom de Bicknell a une cime entre la Baisse de Fontanalba et le Mont Sainte Marie. A noter qu’à cette époque la région du Val Fontanalba faisait partie du territoire italien, donc à l’origine c’était Cima Bicknell.

    Cordialement, Graham Avery"

Download a copy of Fritz Mader's article in la Rivista Mensile du Club Alpino Italiano 1908 in pdf form here:


Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor, 27 March 2018...       

I also show here the postcard of the Cima Bicknell with Clarence Bicknell's writing on it. He identifies the mountain as "Cima Bicknell 2686m. He goes on to relate in excited style (as a p.s. to whatever is written on the other side, not available to us) the arrival of "Olivo" or "Olivio" and the hunt for a rock engraving called "The Baby" which he had not been able to find for 10 years. Olivio is not a name which I can find in Valerie Lester's biography of Clarence, on Wikipedia, or on If you know who Olivio could be please contact us.Part of what I can decypher from Clarence's hand writing reads "Cousins all gone. Deo Gratis. We are very well and busy and happy". I wonder which cousins he was glad to see the back of. And who was the card addressed to?

Photo copyright © 2018 The Estate of Clarence Bicknell, Marcus Bicknell and the Bicknell family collection.



Note from Marcus Bicknell, editor, 28 May 2018...    

In preparing the proposed hike up the Cime Bicknell on Sunday 15th July 2018 as part of the Clarence Bicknell Centenary celebrations, I asked certain experts to identify the Cime Bicknell from photos other than the card on which Clarence wrote (right). I reproduce in order, below,

bicknell bio map 3 from pdf

a) the map of the area from Valerie Lester's MARVELS - The Life of Clarence Bicknell (2018) showing the location of the Cime Bicknell,



Map by Martin Brown, copyright © 2018 The Estate of Clarence Bicknell, Marcus Bicknell and the Bicknell family collection.












cime bicknell depuis lac noir 1b) the Cime Bicknell photographed from the Lac Noir of the Vamasque (with thanks to Silvia Sandrone for the handwritten indications),














 c111 rob via sacra cime bicknell)    The Cime Bicknell in the centre of a photo probably by Luigi Pollini c. 1910 from the collection of the IISL in the Museo Bicknell, Bordighera. The mountain was identified for us by archaeologist and Vallée des Merveilles guide Nicoletta Bianchi.

The dog is Rob, Margaret Berry's. On close inspection of this extraordinary pose you can make out Clarence Bicknell, sitting with his knees in front of him, on the Chiappes the other side of the snow field, directly to Rob's right. The shapes under the small bluff to the left and above Rob could be two more people or back-sacks left on the ground.


Photo copyright © 2018 Istituto Internazionale di Studi Liguri

















cima bicknell gulliver itd)    The Cime Bicknell in winter in recent times, a photo from cuneo whom we thank. More at



NEWS - Henry Sanford Bicknell in Washington DC museum. Clarence's brother.

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I have had a very interesting exchange of emails with the National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC, in the USA. They have 3 photos of Cavendish House, Henry Sanford Bicknell's house in Clapham, London...

"The department of image collections at the National Gallery of Art library, Washington DC, has three photographs of Cavendish House, Henry Sanford Bicknell’s home. These photos were purchased several years ago from Harry Lunn Jr. Gallery in Paris.  Additionally, Lambeth Archives has duplicates of these images plus other interior views of Cavendish House that are apparently copy photos from an album (current location of the album is unknown unfortunately). We are trying to ascertain who the photographer of these photos was, and wonder if you would have any information regarding who might have photographed Cavendish House and produced an album for Henry S. Bicknell or his heirs prior to the sale of his art collection.

"A group of photographs by Benjamin Brecknell Turner recently for sale at Quaritch included photographic portraits of Christine and Henry S. Bicknell.  The Bicknells and Turners would have had a connection through their families’ involvement in the tallow chandling business.  One hypothesis is perhaps B.B. Turner, who photographed Henry Bicknell and his wife when they were all young (the Quaritch images), may have been asked to photograph Cavendish House before it was sold (the NGA photos, which date to the 1880s).   I would greatly appreciate any insight you might have on this theory, or information about the album or the identity of its photographer.  Thank you for your consideration.  "

Later... "BB Turner’s early works are a somewhat different color from our images, deeper and richer, but considering the new process apparently used in our later photos, not surprising.  He was not related to JMW Turner as far as I can tell.  His father was Samuel Turner who was in business with Benjamin Brecknell and produced the famous Brecknell-Turner candles and later, saddle soap.  BB Turner joined the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers in 1837, where, being about the same age as Henry Bicknell, I suspect they would have known one another (BBT born 1815; HSB born 1818). 

"See from the V&A: .

"And here, with permission, are the photos of Henry S. and Christine Bicknell.  Sorry they’re so small, but the original file size is tiny.  These photos are by BB Turner."

Sincerely,  Andrea Gibbs
Deputy Chief and Image Specialist for Architecture
Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC
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