Collection of the week: Reginald A. Malby

In a week when garden enthusiasts are enjoying a sun-soaked RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, it seems appropriate to highlight the collection of Reginald A. Malby, one of the finest horticultural photographers of his era and official photographer of the Royal Horticultural Society in the early years of the twentieth century.

Malby, born in 1882, was introduced to photography by his father, Henry Thomas Malby. They descended from a long line of artists, inventors, musicians and entrepreneurs, which included Malby & Sons, the famous globe-makers, and Walter N. Malby, a pioneer in the infancy of photography. Reginald Malby himself soon became the youngest Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, the highest distinction awarded, and his company, Reginald A. Malby & Co., was formed in 1890, based in Chelmsford Road, Woodford, Essex. The firm was led by his wife Eleanor after his death in 1924, and continued to attract acclaim and commercial success. Eleanor's award by the RHS in 1941 of the Veitch Memorial Medal for 'outstanding contribution to the advancement and improvement of the science and practice of horticulture' is testament to the esteem in which the company was held.

As well as working in black and white, often photographing plant species for the first time, Reginald Malby employed colourists who would painstakingly apply colour to the 5cm square images using a magnifying glass and fine paintbrushes. The results are beautiful and have an almost hypnotic quality. Outside of the world of horticulture, Malby photographed rural buildings and landscapes and also took a small series of images of life on the streets of London in the 1900s which are wonderfully evocative.

Click here for a blooming good selection. If you have any queries or would like help with picture research, get in touch with us on 020 8318 0034 or email

Mary Evans Picture Library Ltd.  59 Tranquil Vale  Blackheath  London  SE3 0BS. United Kingdom.
Unsubscribe here