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The Artist and the Garden - Livres du Mois

The theme for June's Livres du Mois is the artist and the garden, inspired by the book of the same name by Sir Roy Strong. Below is a collection of books exploring the relationship between artists and the gardens they created and how those gardens influenced their art.


The Artist and the Garden


Sir Roy Strong

"This extraordinarily beautiful book gathers together and examines for the first time a delightful collection of English gardens rendered by artists from 1540 to the early nineteenth century, many of which are unknown. Sir Roy Strong, widely recognized for his expertise in both art history and garden history, surveys garden pictures ranging from Elizabethan miniatures to eighteenth-century alfresco conversation pieces, from suites of paintings of a single garden to amateur watercolors. He inquires into the origin of the English garden picture genre, its development prior to the invention of photography, its greatest exponents, its reliability as historical evidence of actual gardens, and its place within the larger European tradition of picturing the garden.

The English, Strong observes, were slow in picturing the reality of their gardens. Until well into the Stuart age, the garden in art served as a symbol, and only gradually did this give way to the impulse to record the facts of contemporary garden-making. In the backgrounds of portraits of Jacobean and Caroline garden owners, the garden is no longer an emblem; it becomes instead a document demonstrating the owners’ pride in their gardens made in the new Renaissance manner. By the Georgian age the garden has moved from the back to the foreground of pictures, and whole families place themselves amid the glory of their self-fashioned landscapes. Both house and garden at this point assume a separate identity, each calling for an individual record. And by the nineteenth century, the author shows, the garden detaches itself from owner and house to be recorded for its own sake, as a single image at first, and later in a series. With some 350 fully annotated illustrations, this lovely book offers a unique record of three hundred years of English gardens and what they meant to those who owned and portrayed them."


The Artist's Garden:

The secret spaces that inspired great art

"The Artist’s Garden offers an intriguing study into 20 gardens that have inspired and been home to some of the greatest painters of history.The most alluring image of an artist at work is surely one where he or she has come out of their studio, set up their easel on the garden path, pulled on a hat to shade their eyes from the sun and taken their brush and palette in hand.

This sumptuously illustrated and fascinating book delves into the stories behind the gardens which inspired some of the most beautiful and important works of art. These gardens not only supplied the inspiration for creative works but also illuminate the professional motivation and private life of the artists themselves – from Cezanne’s house in the south of France to Childe Hassam at Celia Thaxter’s garden off the coast off Maine.

Flowers and gardens have often been the first choice for artists looking for a subject. A garden close to the artist’s studio is not only convenient for daily material and ideas, but also has the advantage of changing through the seasons and over time. Claude Monet’s Giverny was the catalyst for hundreds of great paintings (by Monet and other artists), each one different from the one before. Sometimes a whole village becomes the focus for a colony of artists as at Gerberoy in Picardy and Skagen on the northernmost tip of Denmark.

This book is about the real homes and gardens that inspired these great artists – gardens that can still be visited today. The relationship between artist and garden is a complex one. A few artists, including Pierre Bonnard and his neighbour Monet were keen gardeners, as much in love with their plants as their work, while for others like Sorolla in Madrid, his courtyard home was both a sanctuary and a source of ideas."


Monet's Garden: Through the Seasons at Giverny Vivian Russell

"Vivian Russell’s much-admired exploration of Claude Monet’ s garden at Giverny. This book ventures behind the scenes to chart the history of one of the world’ s most famous gardens, linking the world of Monet the artist with Monet the gardener. Four chapters trace the garden through the changing seasons, paying special attention to the atmosphere and light that so preoccupied Monet and became the focus of his life as a painter. Throughout, the work done by Giverny’ s present-day gardeners is analysed to reveal the practical techniques of maintaining the most-visited garden in the world."


Artists' Gardens


Bill Laws

"Artists' gardens are places both of creation and inspiration, often the most personal reflection of their minds and work. This is a celebration of the gardens of 20 artists worldwide. It highlights the links between the artists, their work and their local landscapes. The relationship between artist and garden is often an intimate one.

Crippled with age, the French Impressionist Renoir determinedly worked away in his garden until his death at Les Collettes in southern France, while American artist Jennifer Bartlett produced over 200 canvasses of the same French villa garden and the Spanish painter Sorolla was content simply to create a Moorish haven of peace and tranquillity in the back yard of his Madrid city home. The gardeners' compositions of light and shade, their subtle framing devices and colour conscious backgrounds mirror many techniques of the artist. Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth transformed their gardens into galleries while others turned theirs into works of art. From Monet's beloved Giverny to Frida Kahlo's cactus wilderness in Mexico, this is an insight into the lives of 20 great international artists."


Impressionist Gardens


Claire A. P. Willsdon

"Clare Willsdons book explores the rich history and striking evolution of Impressionist garden paintings. By the 1860s, gardens were highly popular in France; the introduction and cross-breeding of new plant and flower species and the opening to the public of the former royal parks had stimulated a great horticultural movement.

With their delight in colour, plein-air effects and modern-life themes, the Impressionists and their followers naturally turned to gardens for artistic inspiration. This book follows the spread of the Impressionist garden in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and illustrates not only masterpieces of Impressionism by Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley and others, but also works by such forebears as Delacroix, Corot, Courbet and later figures like Van Gogh, Gauguin, Klimt and Sargent."


Gardens of the Renaissance

Bryan C. Kenne

"This is a fascinating volume that uses illustrated manuscripts to gain a unique insight into the gardens of the Renaissance. Whether part of a grand villa or an extension of a common kitchen, gardens in the Renaissance were planted and treasured in all reaches of society.

Illuminated manuscripts of the period offer a glimpse into how people at the time pictured, used, and enjoyed these idyllic green spaces. Drawn from a wide range of works in the Getty Museum's permanent collection, this gorgeously illustrated volume explores gardens on many levels, from the literary Garden of Love and the biblical Garden of Eden to courtly gardens of the nobility, and reports on the many activities - both reputable and scandalous - that took place there."


The Garden in Art


Debra Mancoff

"Rich in symbolism and metaphor, and blessed with its own varied and dramatic palette, the garden has proved to be an extremely fertile source of artistic inspiration. In The Garden in Art, acclaimed art historian Debra Mancoff reveals the many different ways in which artists from all periods of history - from ancient Egypt to the present day - have employed the motif of the garden.

Featuring more than 200 illustrations of both renowned and lesser-known works, the book approaches its subject thematically, exploring such topics as working gardens, the garden through the seasons and artists' gardens. Complete with a detailed timeline and a suggested list of gardens to visit, The Garden in Art is an absorbing and highly rewarding examination of the meaning and significance of the depiction of the garden."



The Painted Gardens Blanca Pons-Sorolla

"Like Claude Monet's celebrated plein air landscapes at Giverny, the series collected in this book represents among the best-loved examples of Joaquin Sorolla s (1863-1923) work, and a window into the Spanish painter's quest to capture the essence of a garden.

Described by Monet as the master of light, Sorolla and his landscapes, formal portraits, and historically themed canvases drew comparisons to contemporary American painter John Singer Sargent. Sorolla had achieved renown on both sides of the Atlantic for grand scenes of Spanish life when he began a personal series of garden works, presented completely for the first time in this publication. Painted at the palaces of La Granja and the Alcazar in Seville, the Alhambra and Generalife in Granada, and at the painter's home in Madrid, these Impressionist works allowed Sorolla to apply his signature loose brushwork and training as a photographer's lighting assistant to gardens and the sculptures, architecture, and sitters that frame and animate them. Sorolla depicted reflections in fountains and pools, the sunlight dappling his glamorous sitters, sprays of orange blossoms, and shaded blue-and-white tile as he endeavoured to render the radiant peace of a summer afternoon."


I hope you have found something of interest amongst this collection of books, but if not, there may be something more to your tastes in the Compendium's Library.


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