I recently discovered a wonderful garden while out painting with a group of plein air painters. I have always enjoyed gardens as a painting subject, have conducted painting courses in this genre and had articles published in art magazines but had not painted one for a long time. It was like being reunited with an old friend!
This has been a favourite subject area for artists through the ages and according to a book published by the Washington National Gallery of Art to accompany an exhibition in 1990 called Gardens on Paper, the story begins in 1200 though subjects were usually of a religious connotation. By the fifteenth century gardens were being painted in their own right and by the eighteenth had become a major source of inspiration.We are all familiar with Monet's famous garden at Giverny but gardens feature as a chosen subject for many of the Impressionists. Renoir's garden at Les Collettes overlooking the Mediterranean with its olive and orange groves featured much in his work towards the end of his life and Van Gogh brought his own individual style to gardens setting his canvas on fire with colour.
In England from 1850 another group of painters found expression in the garden through their watercolours. At their heart was George Samuel Elgood whose paintings of English and Italian gardens are exquisite. Among his contemporaries the work of Margaret Waterfield is as fresh and free as anything produced today. Other notable names include Lilian Stannard, Helen Allingham and Ernest Arthur Rowe to name but a few.In America in the nineteenth century on a small island in the Isles of Shoals in the Gulf of Maine an eccentric lady by the name of Celia Thaxter created a classic seaside garden that became a magnet for artists and writers. Among them was Childe Hassam whoproduced a series of paintings of this wonderful garden that for me have never been surpassed in this genre.
Almost anything in a garden will make a painting as illustrated above, a simple rhubarb forcing pot, a geenhouse, urn, tool shed or rose garden. Other examples are illustrated throughout this blog.
From the Book Room:
Gardens on Paper, Prints and Drawings, 1200-1900 by Virginia Tuttle Clayton. Published by National Gallery of Art, Washington
Painted Gardens, English Watercolours 1850-1914 by Penelope Hobhouse & Christopher Wood. Published by Pavilion
Renoir's Garden by Derek Fell. Published by Frances Lincoln
The Impressionist Garden by Derek Fell. Published by Frances Lincoln
American Warercolours by Christopher Finch. Published by Abbeville Press Publishers, New York
The American Impressionists by Donelson F. Hoopes. Published by Watson-Guptill Publications, New York (Not illustrated)From the Archive:
Treasured Island by Paula Deitz. Gardens Illustrated June/July 1994 Bulbs Shine Bright in Broadway by Diana BAskervyle-Glegg. Country Life, January 29,1998
Paintings from the top down by Tomas King: The Castle Garden, Oil on Canvas. The Rhubarb Patch, Oil on Canvas. A Grand Entrance, Oil on Canvas. The Terracotta Urn, Oil on Canvas. Sea View, Oil on Canvas. The Tool Shed, Watercolour.
Post published by Tom King 15th Sept. 2011