Helen C. Waterhouse Botanicals
This collection of botanical watercolours, focusing mainly on alpine flowers painted in the mountains of northern Italy and Switzerland, came to us from an album that bears the inscription ‘painted in 1882 by Helen C. Waterhouse and given to her son Theodore Waterhouse in January 1918’. Helen was clearly a skilled watercolourist and amateur botanist, and this collection shows an accomplished and detailed hand with an acute eye for natural colour.
Helen Caroline Waterhouse, née Weber (1855-1941) was the daughter of a German doctor. While not much is known about her parentage, they must have been prosperous, as a portrait of a young fifteen-year-old Helen exists by the hand of the French portraitist Jean Edouard Lacretelle. Lacretelle exhibited at the Paris Salon and at the Royal Academy 1841-1891, and was also commissioned by King Louis-Philippe in 1843 to paint a portrait of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (now in the collection at Versailles).
In 1898, Helen became the second wife of the accountant Edwin Waterhouse, one of the founding members of what would later become Price, Waterhouse & Cooper, one of the largest and most prestigious accounting firms in operation to this day. He was also one of the 1880 founding members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Waterhouse came from an illustrious Liverpool Quaker family - his brother was the architect Alfred Waterhouse, who designed London’s Natural History Museum, and solicitor Theodore Waterhouse, whose firm still exists as part of Field Fisher Waterhouse. Helen and Edwin had one son, the aforementioned Theodore, who was born in 1907.
She died in 1941 and was buried next to her husband Edwin in Holmbury St. Mary in Surrey.