This volunteer project was inspired by research previously undertaken by Sarah Gray into the Buckinghamshire gardens of the wood engraver Clare Leighton and the painter John Nash.Given the proximity of the county to London, we realised that a considerable number of gardens might survive that relate to other local artists, particularly from the early to mid-twentieth century.
The artists include the C19 watercolourists William and Harriet Callow, who lived at Great Missenden. A number of the artists are nationally renowned: Rex Whistler, who lived at Whitchurch, John Piper, who spent much of his life at Fawley Bottom near Henley, and the Scottish Colourist Alexander Jamieson at Weston Turville. There were several artists’ colonies including at those at Hillesden, Pigotts near Speen (Eric Gill), Hawridge Windmill (Mark Gertler and Gilbert Cannan) and a group of women artists in Amersham.
Paul and John Nash both feature as they grew up in Iver Heath, carried out their war commissions at Chalfont St Peter and then later John lived at Meadle near Princes Risborough. The abstract artist Ben Nicholson was born in Denham where his father William Nicholson had a cottage. He was also a successful artist and undoubtedly inspired by his garden as he painted still lives of flowers.
The well-known botanical artist and explorer Margaret Mee grew up in Chesham. The American poster artist Edward McKnight Kauffer lived with his partner Marion Dorn, a textile artist, in the village of Turville. Many were polymaths, lending their hand to different applied arts, including ceramics, stained glass, textiles and book illustration. As the project has progressed many other names have been suggested and at the time of writing (April 2020) there are at least 30 on our list.
During their research and site visits the volunteers will address the following points:
- Was there a garden?
- Was the garden cultivated, and how? What was grown and how was it characteristic of that artist?
- Did the artist take inspiration from the garden and the surrounding countryside?
- Was the artist a gardener and influenced the garden, and if so what did they do and how much of this survives?
- Does anything remain? If so, what?
- If so, to what extent were the garden, plants and the setting influential on the artist?
This is an ongoing project; the findings are being written up as short site dossiers and will be posted on the website as and when they are completed. They will include an introduction to the area in which the artist lived and were often inspired by, and what was happening at the time in the art world during the period they were active. A gazetteer entry for each artist will reflect the answers to the questions above. Illustrations of the artist’s work and volunteers’ photographs of the gardens will be included as far possible. The dossiers will also include links to websites where the artist’s work can be viewed.
Table of artists identified to date:
|Site||Dates||Notes & additional information||References|
|1)Timbers, Towersey (formerly in Bucks)
2)Darobey, Church Lane Long Crendon
|Engraver famous for his Country Craft series.||Recording Britain Series|
1891 Album of WC’s incl. local views
|CALLOW William & Harriet||The Firs, Potter Row, South Heath, Gt Missenden
|1855-1908||Watercolourist and landscape artist. Harriet also painted in WC, albums of local scenes and garden||BCM reserve|
|CANNAN Gilbert & Mary
|1913-1916||Members of art/literary circle
Gilbert was a novelist; Mary planted a garden. Visitors incl. artists; Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington. Studio in mill used in 1930’s
A Crisis of Brilliance
|Landscape artist and society portraitist
War artist, exhibited at the RA. Well-tended cottage garden
|Dissertation held by BCM
see Mel Czapski
2) Old Farm House, Speen
Friend of Nash and Gill
|Illustrated Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selbourne|
(Emma) Mary Sargant
|Lords Wood, Marlow Common||Not known
|Studied at the Slade
Murals in Fresco -Bournville Jnr School
Ellery Rise, Frieth
|1947-1957||Sculptor/wood carver, mainly religious works apprenticed to Gill||Crucifix Frieth churchyard|
Arthur Eric Rowton
Nr West Dean
Speen, High Wycombe
|1928-1940||Leading British sculptor and designer of typefaces (notably Gill Sans Serif)||Eric Gill MacCarthy
BCM Pencil sketch of the garden (David Jones)
|1919-1937||Glasgow School of Art
Painter of landscapes and gardens in UK, France & Europe
BCM The Artist’s Garden
|1)Woodlands, Long Park Chesham Bois
2)Manor Farm North Road
|1918 -1933||Notable portraitist and writer
Painted Rothschild family
Woodlands, Gerrards Cross
|Pre 1918||Art and dancer. Studied at the Slade, wife of John Nash||First Friends Ronald Blythe|
|Four Hedges, Monks Risborough||1930-1939||Wood cut artist and illustrator. Created a garden.
|MEE Margaret||1)The Crest, White Hill Chesham
2)Rosemead, Nr. Lye Green
(Now Culwood House)
Lived in Brazil. From where she made 15 botanical expeditions into the Amazon region.
|1988 Major exhibition of her work at Kew.|
|The Vicarage small hamlet? Near Hillesden||1950-1957||The Hillesden Group
Pottery and artistic community
Also, Derek Davis John Clark and partners
|BCM oil painting ‘Snow’|
|The White House, Northend Turville||1937-1940||Illustrator/graphic artist
Best known for his poster designs (London Underground, &Shell)
Friend of TS Eliot
Marion was a textile designer
|London Transport Museum
Paul & John
|Wood Lane House
|1901- WWI||Both painted gardens.
End of WWI rented shed at The Whin’s painted war commissions
|Crisis of Brilliance Boyd-Haycock
Outline Paul Nash
Maude Grieve de Carle
Tate Britain. BCM
John & Christine
|Lane End, Meadle Princes Risborough||1922-1939||Painted views of garden and countryside||John Nash at Meadle Laschelles
William and Ben
|1894-?||William was a painter of portraits, landscapes and specialised in still-life’s especially flowers.
Ben was a cubist painter he married the sculptor Barbara Hepworth
|William Nicholson Penguin
|NIEMANN Edmund John||High Wycombe
|1839-1848||Prolific landscape artist watercolour||BCM Painting of Brill
|Rignalls Lodge, Rignalls Road
|Mid -late C20||Sculptor who used re-cycled materials|
|Fawley Bottom Farmhouse
|1934-1992||Renowned C20 artist
Painted his own garden many times
Friend of Ben Nicholson and John Betjeman
|Piper Gallery Henley Museum
John Piper, Myfanwy piper, Lives in Art Spalding, Frances
|Tythe Barn, Bois Lane
|1915- 1959||Prolific painter, incl her own garden and local countryside||Amersham Museum
|1969||Stained Glass artist, churches in England & Wales
|Henry Hinchcliffe book
See R&R Ann Birch
Daughter lives in Bradwell
|Not known Chalfont St Peter||?||Portraitist||Paintings; Dwight Eisenhower (Washington Smithsonian) Duke of Windsor & Churchill|
|Inter war||Engraver, woodblock studied at The Slade, friend of John Nash||BCM
The Potting Shed 1919
Cottage gardens Whiteleaf 1923
86 Chestnut Lane
|1939 – 1955||Artist born in Vienna 1906, portraitist, also local scenes
Friend of Oskar Kokoschka
|1) Farnham Common?
2)Bolebec House, 7 Oving Road Whitchurch
|1933-1937||Trained at the Slade
Painting of ‘Vale of Aylesbury’ for Shell poster
During the war his parents lived at The Vicarage in Bierton
Rex made several paintings there on visits
|BCM Bierton Paintings|