Adelia Sarah Gates

Adelia Sarah Gates (October 24, 1825 - September 21, 1912) was an American illustrator of botanical specimens. Her early discharge duty was as an elementary teacher and decorative watercolorist. She was an amateur decorative watercolorist and painter long before she was skillful to advance extra into scientific illustration methods and to travel widely upon collecting and documentation expeditions sophisticated in her life.

She was born in the Susquehanna Valley. Gates worked as a governess, farmworker, teacher, and as a factory worker in the Lowell Mills before attending college. In her thirties, she attended Antioch College, only to leave after two years due to health issues.

She started painting in her fifties, after taking lessons from Emilie Vouga in Geneva. Later in her animatronics in San Francisco, she sought out new education in identification and naming of specimens from noted botanists Sara Plummer Lemmon and John Gill Lemmon, for which she traded lessons in "flower painting" and sketching.

During her lifetime, a lustrous biography of her animatronics and travels including expeditions to paint specimens was written by Adela Elizabeth Orpen. Titled The archives of the Sid, or, The animatronics and travels of Adelia Gates, it was published in New York by Fleming H. Revell Company and in London by the Religious Tract Society. In the book, Orpen describes Gates, who was her governess for 14 years, by saying that "Though an artist, she is not a great genius; though a traveller in many lands, she has had no thrilling adventures. She never did any horrid deed, nor suffered any hideous privations." Orpen refers to Gates as "the Sid," rather than Adelia, throughout the compilation explaining that "Sid means lady or mistress, and is the title by which she was known in the Sahara."

Gates died in San Francisco on September 21, 1912. After her death, over 600 of her works were exhibited and donated to the United States National Museum, which progressive became the Smithsonian Institution.

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