Painting Paradise: The Art Of The Garden

I wasn’t expecting an invitation to tea with the Queen.

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Which was just as well – I didn’t get one.  But I did receive an invite to a Bloggers’ Breakfast followed by a preview of ‘Painting Paradise’ – the new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.  Pulling on smart clothes (of a sort) and fishing bits of bramble out of my beard, I flunked off work and scurried up to town.

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The Family of Henry VIII, British School, c. 1545 – with a glimpse of Whitehall Palace garden

After coffee, pastries and mingling, we entered the galleries for an expertly guided tour by the curators.   Here are just a few of the works I particularly liked (and was able to photograph in low light):

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Portrait of Jacopo Cennini, Franciabigio, 1523

the earliest surviving portrait of a professional gardener (looking uncannily like Mark Rylance’s Thomas Cromwell);

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A View Of Hampton Court, Leonard Knyff, c. 1703 – with avenues formed by two thousand (!) lime trees

a beautifully detailed panorama of William III’s new gardens at Hampton Court;

The Norman Gateway and Moat Garden, Windsor Castle Paul Sandby, c. 1770

The Norman Gateway and Moat Garden, Windsor Castle, Paul Sandby, c. 1770

an early, and rare, depiction of a gardener at work (with dog, if no mug of tea);

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July Border, Beatrice Emma Parsons, c. 1910 – 20

and a vibrant watercolour of Jekyll-inspired planting, bringing to my mind the long borders at Nymans.

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Detail, The Sunflower Clock, Vincennes porcelain factory (1738-56)

I loved this intimate, absorbing exhibition featuring a rich and varied array of decorative arts: paintings, manuscripts, da Vinci drawings (see header photo), sculpture, porcelain

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Fabergé Cornflowers and Oats Study

and jewels; all from the Queen’s private collection and many on public view for the first time.

‘Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden’  is a short walk from Victoria station.  The exhibition opened on 20th March and runs until 11 October 2015.  For more information see:  The Royal Collection Website

35 thoughts on “Painting Paradise: The Art Of The Garden

  1. What a sensible painter, to realize how well dogs and gardening go together. (“Well” does not mean “effectively”.) (But then, you know that.) And what a wonderful exhibit to be able to see!

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    • Ha! No Stacy, gardening with dogs does add an element of er, challenge – though mine were generally pretty well behaved (apart from Solo sitting on whatever it was I was weeding, so as to get an ear rub. Which actually was very sensible as she nearly always got one).

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  2. What a fabulous reason to bunk off work, I enjoyed your choice of paintings, and am very envious that you got to see those da Vinci drawings. I feel rather ignorant, I had no idea Fabergé did anything other than eggs!!

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    • Goodness, Janet. Do you never watch Antiques Roadshow? They almost always finish with some ring or necklace or bracelet, picked up for 40p at a car-boot, and revealed to be a £20k Fabergé. There was so much to see and I photographed more than I’ve shown but I had to dash back up to London (very, very tiring) on the day I posted this. And so time was short. Sussex is very calming after all that excitement. D

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  3. Good grief we were both there at the same time! Wasn’t it fabulous? It was the picture of the Faberge Dicentra (Lamprocapnos – but who remembers to call it that?) on the website which persuaded me to go and oh how I do covet it 🙂

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    • Oh what a shame. It would’ve been nice to meet. I didn’t know anyone there but did chat to one person before we were ushered in. Perhaps we ought to have been given name tags!? There was a lot to covet, I thought … just a crying shame that it was too early for me to want to eat any of those pastries! I should’ve filled my pockets for later.

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      • Well, I didn’t bring the rest of my avatar with me, so that didn’t help. I should have been more observant though and recognised you. It would have been good to meet and have a chat at last 🙂

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          • Yep, that was me. My cunning beard disguise worked then? Can’t remember whether I remembered to remove the comedy nose attachment from the glasses. Probably not. I made some lame comment about washing one of the Meissen plates to a lady and then said bye to her as I crossed the road later – was that you? Or were you her companion?

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            • It worked perfectly 😉 Not sure about the Meissen comment, though there were 2 of us. We were heading off to Green Park Station (going to the Edible Garden Show) and you were going back towards the gallery. You grinned and said hello in recognition as fellow attendees as we passed each other.

              This is turning into a script for Brief Encounter 2!

              Will you be wearing the same disguise at Chelsea?

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              • Ah, OK. I’d thought about going for a walk before heading home but changed my mind and was heading back to Victoria. Well, it was very nice to meet you – almost. “You’ve been a long way away” is the only quote from BE I know and is almost appropriate – but not really. And no, the same disguise won’t work now. Besides, I’m a bit bored with my beard experiment. I shall need to think up a whole new disguise for Chelsea. A shrub perhaps. But whatever, hopefully I’ll get to say hello to you properly. D

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  4. Hmmm. I’ll have to see what happened to my invite, I’m pretty sure the other person who reads my blog is the Queen.
    Looks like a great visit and exhibit. The history behind the art is astounding, even more so in today’s era of selfies.

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  5. Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? Which is better: the orderly cornflower and oats, above, or the wondrous chaos of a garden in June?

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    • I don’t think either the Fabergé or the beautiful garden is necessarily better than the other, Robert. Though selling the former could certainly help in attaining the latter … probably with loose change to spare.

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  6. Lucky you! I thought exactly the same as you with the portrait that looks so like Mark Rylance, such an uncanny resemblance! It is a long time since I have been around the Queen’s gallery, must go again soon.

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    • Shame you weren’t there Helen – I didn’t know anyone! It was very early, I had to go up the night before and stay with a friend. Worth it though (and even losing a day’s pay). Dave

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