Garden Paintings.

I have some snowdrops and hellebores in bloom and I could photograph them,  but on this first day of the New Year I prefer to sit by the fire and show you a few of my favourite garden paintings.

Henry James said: ‘Summer afternoon, summer afternoon, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.‘   I would  like to add ‘ the garden‘ to that. So let’s start with some nostalgic pictures of English country -cottage gardens as late Victorians liked to see them, complete with rosy-cheeked peasants in sun bonnets.

Off Marketing. Helen Allingham

Off Marketing. Helen Allingham

Helen Allingham was at the centre of a group of artists living in Surrey who were heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. They were reacting to the effects of industrialization and were nostalgic for a rural way of life which they imagined as idyllic.  Gertrude Jekyll, was of course a key member of the Arts and Crafts movement and Helen Allingham painted her herbaceous border at Munstead Wood. I love the exuberance of the planting and the fact that there are daisies in the lawn.

Herbaceous Border. (Munstead Wood) Helen Allingham

Herbaceous Border. (Munstead Wood)
Helen Allingham

Thomas H. Hunn painted similar rustic scenes with picturesque cottages. He also painted some well known established gardens. Like Helen Allingham, he painted Gertrude Jekyll’s garden at Munstead Wood.

The pansy Garden, Mustead Wood. Thomas H. Hunn.

The pansy Garden, Munstead Wood. Thomas H. Hunn.







A neighbour of Helen Allingham’s was the artist Myles Birket Foster. He had also been her tutor. He painted the same sort of sentimental cottage and garden scenes that were so popular at the time. In fact, from the 1860s on, his paintings appeared on Cadbury’s chocolate boxes.

Lilac Gathering. Miles Birket Foster

Lilac Gathering. Miles Birket Foster











In fact, I don’t know whether it was a coincidence, but these two artists both painted pictures of cabbage cutting.

Cabbage Cutting Helen Allingham

Cabbage Cutting Helen Allingham











These peasants won’t go hungry; they have plenty of nutritious cabbages.

 Cutting Cabbages. Miles Birket Foster

Cutting Cabbages. Miles Birket Foster









Nothing to do with the Arts and Crafts Movement but I couldn’t resist putting in another Cabbage -cutting picture. This one is painted by one of The Glasgow Boys, Sir James Guthrie.

The Hind's Daughter. Sir James Guthrie

The Hind’s Daughter. Sir James Guthrie















The Glasgow boys were a radical change from stuffy Victorian narrative paintings such as Landseer’s Stag at Bay.  They aimed to introduce the realism of Scottish rural life but without sentimentalizing it. They were influenced by French realists of the Barbizon School such as  Corot and Millet. I love this painting by Guthrie with the little girl looking straight  out of the painting with a defiant, slightly annoyed expression.

Going on in time a bit I love Stanley Spencer’s garden pictures. If you are only aware of his bizarre religious visions you might get a pleasant surprise when you see the many gardens painted around his beloved Cookham.

Cottages at Burghclere

Cottages at Burghclere

Greenhouse and Gardens

Greenhouse and Gardens

Wisteria, Cookham

Wisteria, Cookham









All the paintings I have looked at today are British ones, and of course, just a small selection. Maybe another day I will have a look at French garden paintings.

For now though I would like to wish you all a very happy new year and I will finish with Beryl Cook to give us a little foretaste of next summer in the garden.

Tea in the Garden Beryl Cook

Tea in the Garden Beryl Cook

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71 Responses to Garden Paintings.

  1. Jane Strong says:

    Oh, how do I love seeing these pictures! This the kind of thing that encourages gardening in me, and what a great time to post them, just when I’m planning for next season. Well, gee whiz, this is a surprise. We have just about the same temperatures this New Year’s Day, ours having a little greater range. So I’m keeping you company by the fire 5,500 miles away.

  2. Alison says:

    I did enjoy these pictures of paintings, especially that last one of the nudists eating cake. I’m not planning to do any naked gardening this coming year, although there is apparently a Naked Gardening Day. Happy New Year!

  3. Anna says:

    Some familiar scenes Chloris but always a pleasure to gaze upon them again 🙂 I’m sure that maintaining a cottage garden was extremely hard work and not as romantic as some of these artists portray. I don’t know about you but even if the temperatures soar this summer I will not be sitting out sipping tea so scantily clad 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I think a cottage garden was all about growing enough food to survive. If they had a few flowers they were incidental.
      I think as long as you have a beautiful hat for your afternoon tea you will always look smart.

  4. mattb325 says:

    I love the Hind’s Daughter – a far and away more realistic image of cabbage picking….as for the naked garden tea party, you would be burnt to a crisp if you tried that here in Australia 🙂

  5. pbmgarden says:

    These artists are all unfamiliar to me but I’m glad to make their acquaintance. Happy gardening in the new year.

  6. Chloris says:

    Happy gardening to you too Susie. Here’ s hoping 2015 will be a good one.

  7. rusty duck says:

    The unsettling thing about the Beryl Cook painting is that I feel I know some of the people in it. I’m sure it’s only coincidence. There is more chance of me winning the lottery than seeing my MIL (second left) sip tea in the garden naked. Although she would most certainly be wearing a hat.
    Happy New Year Chloris.

    • Chloris says:

      And take another look. Just what is your MIL looking at? And is that you FIL? Of course, if you are wearing a posh hat you can get away with anything.

  8. gardenfancyblog says:

    What a lovely and edifying post to read while waiting and dreaming of spring! Best wishes for the New Year to you and your family! -Beth

  9. There’s a bit of a romantic in me for English cottage gardens. Frankly, my garden is a mish-mash of woodland, U.S. native plant, and cottage gardens. I feel I would be very at home in a traditional cottage garden, so these paintings are comforting–even though, as Anna says, these romantic views don’t dwell on the great physical work of it all. Thanks for the information about the paintings and the artists. Happy New Year!

    • Chloris says:

      Yes and cottage gardens were really all about trying to grow enough food so the Victorian idea of it was an artificial construct. I think we all have a bit of a mishmash of styles.
      Still, I like looking at the pictures on a cold winter’ s day and dreaming about the summer.

  10. Alain says:

    I love Beryl Cook. Did you know that the Queen is supposed to own some of her paintings? Somehow spilling tea does not seem something one worries about, but it would if you were sipping in the nude.
    It would be interesting to know exactly what year Stanley Spencer painted the onions drying in the greenhouse as there were no onion to be had in the UK in the early part of the war. If he painted this then, it must have been nostalgic.

    • Chloris says:

      Goodness, I am surprised that her Maj has some Beryl Cooks. I wouldn’ t have thought they were at all her sort of thing.
      Greenhouse and Garden was painted in 1937, it is an unusual painting as the onions dominate the whole scene. You get the impression that Spencer is hiding in the greenhouse and peeping out.

  11. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I love the nostalgic Victorian paintings and the others you shared as well. No nude entertaining here either but the Cook picture brought a chuckle. Thanks for this fun post!

  12. Brian Skeys says:

    I enjoyed your tour of garden artists, the only one, from that period/style, I know anything about is Alfred Parsons. The Beryl Cook picture does make you smile, anyone who enjoys naked gardening should visit Abbey House Gardens, Malmesbury, on their naked garden open days. (Check their website before visiting to avoid embarrassment.) The garden is very good!

    • Chloris says:

      Oh yes, I have read about them and their beautiful garden. As to nude gardening, it sounds very dangerous to me. I am always hurting myself even when fully clothed, I dread to think what sort of injuries I’ d get with no clothes on.

  13. Cathy says:

    Oh, what an enjoyable post Chloris! Thanks for sharing these wonderful paintings. The first one reminded me of a jigsaw puzzle I had as a child, and the last one is hilarious…. love those hats! LOL! Happy New Year!

  14. Chloris says:

    Thanks Cathy. Oh yes, a posh hat is de rigueur when taking tea naked in the garden.
    Happy New Year.

  15. Christina says:

    What a lovely way to start the year. I remember some of the paitings from when I studied garden history, I love the Stanley Spencer garden paintings, we used to live in Cookham and his house was on the same road as ours, we often went to the chapel museum to see his paintings. I found it difficult to imagine that the same artist painted these as the slightly weird religous paintings he is more famous for. I love the sense of fun in the last picture.

  16. Christina says:

    Oh, I meant to say, the last picture reminded me of the calender the WI did a few years ago!

  17. Great pictures, especially the last, which is in a class of its own!

  18. Flighty says:

    A delightful, and interesting, post. I especially like the Herbaceous Border picture, and the Beryl Cook one made me smile.
    I had an elderly neighbour who often did jigsaws of country cottage garden paintings as they reminded of her childhood. xx

  19. Caro says:

    My sister found an original country cottage painting in a junk shop a few years ago – nothing for the Antiques Roadshow but very pleasant to look at and very much in the style of Helen Allingham. In the first of the cabbage cutting paintings, it seems to me that the woman is looking at her veg patch and thinking ‘Not cabbage soup again!” My sister had a friend who lived entirely on cabbages in her first winter of self-sufficiency and had a similar reaction. These are lovely paintings that you’ve chosen, Chloris, thank you. And, of course, Rusty Duck’s MiL is simply observing her FiL’s cucumber sandwich 😉

    • Chloris says:

      These Victorian paintings of picturesque cottages and happy peasants gloss over the hardship and grinding poverty that they had to endure. I agree, I expect they had to rely on cabbages and they must have been heartily sick of them.
      Oh I see I didn’ t realise that Jessica’ s MIL was looking at the sandwich. But I am sure you are right.

  20. bittster says:

    Nice way to start the 2015 gardening year! I love the art but I also love looking for the historical sidenotes in the paintings. Even in a romanticized depiction my mind imagines a time before lawnmowers, weekly trash collection, and asphalt and how different it must have been from the recreations done for movies and restorations.
    An awful lot of round, ball shaped cabbages in this post. I’m surprised.

    • Chloris says:

      Well I like cabbage, so they won’ t be banned. As long as people don’ t start throwing them about and running around after them. Or kicking them. Or hitting them with sticks.

  21. snowbird says:

    What a lovely post, I did enjoy it! My favourites have to be Lilac gathering and Hind’s daughter…..they are lovely.
    That last pic had me laughing out loud! Struth, the chap on the second right needs to be mindful that he doesn’t get his collywobbles scalded!!!! I’m also very suspicious of the lady on the left….oh yes!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Dina. I think the man on the right is worrying about the very same thing. The lady on the left is apparently Jessica from Rusty Duck’ s mother- law. And Jessica assures us that she has her eyes tightly shut. Anyway, as long as you have a posh hat you can get away with anything. Even taking tea starkers on the lawn.

  22. Tina says:

    As I scrolled through the text and photos, I thought to myself: “Ooo, that’s my favorite.” “Oh, that one’s the one I like the most.” And so on. Until the last photo: I totally love it and so glad you ended this delightful post with that particular work. Nicely done! I appreciate what you said about the artists influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement imagining the rural life as “idyllic.” I’m sure it must have been a tough life–though the paintings are gorgeous.

  23. Great start to the garden year. There would have to be something far wrong with anyone that didn’t smile at The Beryl Cook – fabulous!
    I’m going to show at bit of bias and say I love The Hinds Daughter. My ancestors are all from agricultural backgrounds through in the West of Scotland.
    Those cabbage cutting images have stirred a memory from my childhood. I grew up nearby the prison here in Edinburgh and as a few of my friends’ fathers were Prison Wardens, we had to walk past the prison gardens to get to their houses and a certain times of the year, the prisoners would be out here in the field harvesting the cabbages by hand. Goodness me, it’s been a long time since I thought of that.
    Thanks for posting Chloris, much enjoyed!

    • Chloris says:

      The Hind’ s Daughter is my favourite too. I saw it at an exhibition of the Glasgow Boys a few years ago and it made a big impression on me. What a pity you don’ t have a photo of your childhood memories of the prisoners cabbage cutting. I can just imagine the scene.

  24. Kris P says:

    I enjoyed your post. I love “The Hind’s Daughter” and was surprised to find myself attracted to the Spencer paintings too, particularly the first one. I saw Jessica’s comment on the Cook painting – it would be amusing to “see” someone you knew in any painting but that one even more so!

    • Chloris says:

      I love the Hind’ s Daughter too and I love Spencer’ s garden paintings, although he was a strange man and his religious paintings are really weird.
      Yes I agree, but it would be a bit unnerving to see a picture of your mother in law sipping tea on the lawn stark naked. But at least she is wearing a nice hat.

  25. I have friend here, John Elsley (educated at Kew), who collects Victorian watercolors, so I know and enjoy the work of Helen Allingham and many of her contemporaries. Cook, who is new to me, seems to know I would prefer a pink hat, though I have resorted to highlights to keep my hair blond. I have no problem with the depiction of the very civilized tea party, but must say the lily is quite an exhibitionist.

    • Chloris says:

      Yes that lily is really unbelievable even though the rest of the scene is realistic. So you are the lady in the pink hat? I hope you are paying attention to where you are pouring the tea.

  26. Cathy says:

    Whatever people say about Helen Allingham’s paintings in general, her one of the herbaceous border is stunning. You showed a great selection of pictures and I don’t think I could choose a favourite. I remember when I first came across the Glasgow Boys on a visit to Glasgow perhaps at the end of the 1990s and loved the ones we saw – I tried to find them again when we were there in July this year but drew a blank until a curator at Kelvingrove suggested they might have been on display just for a temporary exhibition at the time as they try to rotate the exhibits. Shame.

  27. Chloris says:

    Oh dear I wonder where the Glasgow Boys can be seen then. I saw an exhibition a few years ago at the RA and that is where I fell in love with The Hind’ s Daughter.

  28. Debra says:

    =D So much to love in this post. I was recently reading up on medieval veggie gardening and found that most of the weeds were considered edible herbs so I kind of imagined a hodge podge of happy chaos far removed from today’s rows and columns. What will anthropologists say of us and our vision of how life is meant to be in 500 years? I appreciate the Victorian’s romantic visions of teeming life which I think is captured so beautiflly in these paintings. When I think of an English garden that abundance is what I see.

    But that last painting is an abundance of fun. As others have noted the action and drama are all in the eyes. Brilliant. You made my day. Thanks!

  29. mrsdaffodil says:

    Lovely post. I did not know of Sir James Guthrie, and especially enjoyed seeing “The Hind’s Daughter”. Thank you.

  30. Very enjoyable post. Something about that first Stanley Spencer painting strikes a chord with me. Maybe it is the clarity of the image of that tree, though the topiary to the right is rather odd.

  31. Since you are so knowledgeable on the subject of paintings, I wonder if you would appreciate the brand of humor in this post, which is both scholarly and juvenile (and so right up my alley). If so, there are several along these lines.

  32. jenhumm116 says:

    What a lovely original post. I too love ‘The Hind’s Daughter’. It reminds me of a rather fierce school photo I have of me, aged about 7 (with short, very untidy hair – what was my mother thinking!)
    Wishing you all the best for 2015 and hope you’re soon back to full strength.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Jenny and a happy new year to you too.
      Apparently the Hind’ s Daughter was looking grumpy because she had to pose for ages and she was fed up and really cold.

  33. Better hope for a hot Summer if you are planning a Beryl Cook style tea party.Hilarious..

  34. It does get very hot in our back garden, but I can’t say I expect scenes lime that last one to be replicated here… I love the grumpy cabbage cutter, and that greenhouse picture is delightfully realistic. Every lawn should have daisies. And clover! Enjoy your fireside and I hope you feel loads better soon.

    • Chloris says:

      Thanks Janet and I hope 2015 brings you really good health and success with all your plans.
      Apparently the little girl who posed for the Hind’ s Daughter was called Grace Peterson and she was fed up and really cold after having to pose for ages. Guthrie’ s mother gave her some milk and white bread afterwards though and that cheered her up and was always remembered as a great treat.

  35. Another fascinating post, Chloris! I, too, love the hats! One must be properly dressed for afternoon tea! Some lovely pictures there – some familiar, others new and “unchocolateboxy “! I particularly liked the Spencer pictures, especially the Greenhouse. But it made me think. Recently, my brother almost bought a house in Cookham, that had previously belonged to an artist. I do believe his name was Spencer, but my little grey cells are not what they were, and I may be remembering incorrectly. If so, it’s been interesting to see some of his work. Can I add, what a pleasant way for you to spend a winter’s afternoon? Sorry to hear you’ve not been well, but glad to hear you’re now on the mend.

    • Chloris says:

      I wonder if the house your brother nearly bought was Lindworth on The High Street. Spencer started his married life there. Just before he died he moved back to his beloved Fernlea, the house where he was born.
      Thank you, Ali, I am much better now.I can’ t wait to get going on the garden again.

      • I think it might have been. It was definitely on the High St. and I recall discussion on a strange marital arrangement there! What a coincidence. Yes, isn’t the garden great for getting us up and about?

  36. Robbie says:

    The first one is my dream home! Oh, how lovely:-) I wish we would have another “arts + craft” revival and integrate garden themes/designs throughout our home in wall paper, paintings, furniture etc….oh, what a great time period. It is one of my favorites!
    I suspect-In the Hind’s daughter she was not feeling the gardening “vibe”…lol…but what a great picture:-)
    Happy New Year to you + love your humor in the last painting! A naked garden party to bare you soul:-)
    Great post!

  37. Chloris says:

    Happy New Year to you too Robbie.
    My husband’ s dream is to live in an Arts and Crafts house but I love our Tudor home with its massive oak beams.
    Appadently the Hind’ s daughter was called Grace Peterson and she told her grand daughter that she was feeling very cold and fed up because she had to pose for so long.

  38. The paintings are wonderful! I love the Off Marketing and Herbaceous Border by Helen Allingham. Her work is beautiful. I have a painting of a garden and patio scene done in a soft watercolor which I have had for years and her work reminds me of it. I like the feeling of almost being inside the painting and she seems to have that effect.

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