O U R S T O R Y
It all began in 2020 with an old cardboard box of original watercolour paintings spread out on the kitchen table by Robert, Mary and Lucinda Davenport. These delicate floral images were all painted by their ancestor Sophia.
Sophia Walker was born in Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire in 1818 and married John Davenport in 1839; together they had seven children, John, Thomas, Susannah, Edward, Francis, Alfred, and Arthur. In the present generation, Lucinda is Thomas’ great-great-grand-daughter and the first girl to be born into the family for over 100 years.
Sophia’s interest in floral subjects was encouraged by her father Richard, an amateur botanist and Fellow of Magdalen College, who researched and published The Flora of Oxfordshire in 1833. She also studied with the renowned watercolour artist William Turner (known as The Oxford Turner, to distinguish him from his famous contemporary, J. M. W. Turner). Turner inspired many of her own landscape paintings and they painted several similar views in and around the city.
With the advent of the steam train and the opening of Great Western Railway’s Oxford Station in 1844, Sophia travelled frequently around the country and across the channel to France. Naturally, she took her sketch book and paints with her, recording the flora she found along the way as well as urban, rural, and seaside scenes. A prolific watercolourist, Sophia continued painting well into her nineties.
Sophia was also a founding member of the Oxford Art Society in 1891. The Ashmolean Museum has several of her floral paintings and the Oxfordshire Record Office still has her album containing watercolours of the 25 Bridges of the County. These are accurate and detailed images that she produced for her husband John, in his role as Clerk of the Peace for Oxfordshire, to help him negotiate the shared cost of repairs with landowners and neighbouring counties.
Over two hundred years after she was born, Sophia’s passion and lifetime of dedication to her art has been the inspiration for our family business, bringing her floral watercolours to life with greeting cards, art prints, and notebooks.
Her work is as significant today as it was in her lifetime and we hope you enjoy our adaptations of it as much as we enjoy sharing them with you.