Painting the Modern Garden


Gardens before the 19th century were the domain of the aristocracy and were not shared with the public. In the early 19th century public gardens were developed for the enjoyment of all, and around the mid-century the middle classes began to indulge in their own gardens taking an often passionate in interest in planting and designing their own gardens. Greenhouses which had only existed on the largest estates became popular as did garden furniture and gardening magazines.

Caillebotte Garden at Petit Gennevilliers 1886

Gustave Caillebotte, a friend and patron of the Impressionists as well as an important painter in his own right, established a garden at his house at Petit-Gennevilliers on the Seine which became the subject of paintings. He was a close friend of Claude Monet who also became a passionate and very knowledgeable gardener, creating gardens at Argenteuil and later at Giverny. Monet created gardens which he painted so the link between the design of the gradens and his artistic vision is very close.

Monet Monet’s Garden Argenteuil 1873

Monet is by no means the only gardener/artist. Henri Le Sidaner created a wonderful garden at Gerberoy situated within the medieval ramparts of the village. He specialised in roses and created the first white garden. His paintings are dream-like and evocative. Further South, Henri Martin designed and painted a colourful garden at La Bastide du Vert near Cahors. Pierre Bonnard painted his garden at Ma Roulotte on the Seine and later in Cannes.

Chacase William Merritt The Nursery 1890

In Germany Max Liebermann laid out and painted his garden near Berlin while Emile Nolde painted his garden at Seebull near the Danish border, often painting secretly to avoid Hitler’s persecution. Joaquin Sorolla built his own house and garden in Madrid which he painted repeatedly enjoying the fountains and climbing roses, while in America many artists including Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase painted both private and public gardens.

Le Sidaner The Pavilion Gerberoy 1909

This lecture provides a broad sweep of artists from many countries all united in their love of gardens and gardening which they passionately record in their canvases.