The Artist in the Garden

The Artist in the Garden

oil painting of woman in garden by T C Steele
Selma in the Garden             Oil            T. C. Steele           (PD)
  The garden has been a popular subject for artists from time immemorial. Since the dawn of agriculture, much of human activity had been centered in the gardens and fields surrounding our homes and communities. These provided naturally interesting places to find good subjects for paintings—the flowering plants, trees and shrubs and the activities of people working there, carrying baskets of produce or working with tools, often in interesting and sometimes colorful local dress.

  To many, the garden is a living symbol of an archetypal Garden of Eden—a place of human genesis. Painters often exploited those themes in their garden paintings, especially during the Renaissance. While those are of historical interest, we find much more inspiration in those garden paintings whose subject is simply beauty. No group of artists created more of those than the Impressionists. Flowers grown solely for their beauty gave new artistic impetus to the Impressionists, whose loose, pointillist techniques were perfect to express the masses of blooms in all their scintillating, moving, riotous color. Once again, the human form is sometimes included, but most often not as the central subject, unless as a portrait.

oilk painting of Sunflowers in a garden by Caillebotte
  Many of these painted gardens are also idealized versions of Nature in her most benevolent personality—like a paradisiacal experience, far removed from the weedy, sometimes hot and buggy place many of us know. Art transforms the garden into a symbol of pure pleasure—a feast for the visual senses which recruits our fondest personal memories in the process. Some artists strove to convey the actual feel of the atmosphere, perhaps the heat of summer, as in Caillebotte’s Sunflowers in the Garden at Petit Gennevilliers, or Steele’s Selma in the Garden with its strikingly hot colors.

Left: Sunflowers in the Garden at Petit Gennevilliers 
Oil 1885
Gustave Caillebotte (PD)

T. C. Steele
(opening image above) was an American Impressionist born in Indiana. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, obtaining financial support for himself and his family from 13 patrons who each pledged $100 in exchange for future paintings. Steele founded and taught at the Indiana Art School. His studio and home is now the T. C. Steele State Historic Site.

French artist Gustave Caillebotte (1848 - 1894) (image above) earned his law degree and was also an engineer. He studied art at the École des Beaux-Arts. His work was shown in the Impressionist exhibition in 1876. Caillebotte became very interested in the early development of photography as an art form.

  Fortunately for the Impressionists, a growing, affluent middle class not only provided buyers for their garden paintings, but also drove the construction of public and private flower gardens filled with vast plantings and ambitious displays. New species and varieties of flowers were made available, also fueling the passion for designing and planting flower gardens. A perfect example of this are the water lilies which Monet obtained for Giverny. Water lilies had only recently been hybridized to survive the French winter climate and Monet was among the first to obtain them for his new water garden. This one development provided the subject matter for his garden paintings for the rest of his life and created a legacy which is loved today world-wide.

  While Monet is arguably the most famous garden painter in the world, there are many, many more wonderful painters both European and American whose work we admire and would like to share with you here.

        oil painting of iris in a garden by Claude Monet       oil landscape painting of lilacs in a park by David Burliuk
                    Irises in the Garden  Oil  1900  
                       Lilac in the Park   Oil   David Burliuk 
Claude Monet (PD)                            (posted in accordance with fair use principles)  

          oil painting of Wisteria in a garden         oil painting of garden scene by Stanley Spencer
                 Wisteria at Englefield     Oil      1954                 Garden Scene, Port Glasgow   Oil   1944
                          both above: Stanley Spencer (posted in accordance with fair use principles)

           oil painting of an Italian Garden by william Merritt Chase        oil painting of gardens in Sevilla Spain by Samuel mutzner
An Italian Garden  Oil 1909  Wm. Merritt Chase (PD)  Gardens in Sevilla Samuel
Mützner  Oil  1921
ted in accordance with fair use principles)

Oscar-Claude Monet (1840 - 1926) was a founder of the Impressionist movement in France. In 1883 he moved to Giverny where he dedicated himself to the development of the famous gardens which became the subjects for some of his most well-known canvases. See our article on Monet's gardens today.

David Burliuk (1882 - 1967) was born in Ukraine. He studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture  and became well known as both a poet and painter. He was a member of the "Jack of Diamonds" avant-garde artists group in Moscow. Burliuk traveled to the United States in 1922 (via Siberia, Japan and Canada) and lived on Long Island for twenty years. He was only allowed to return to the Soviet Union to visit in 1956 and in 1965.

Stanley Spencer (1891 - 1950) was an English artist. He studied at the Slade School of Art at University College, London. He became known for creating paintings with great attention to detail and was a member of a group calling themselves "Neo-Primitives" .

American artist William Merrit Chase (1848 - 1916) received a formal education in classical painting in Europe. He became very successful and well-known on the east coast for his portraits, interiors and light-filled paintings of the newly established parks around New York. His studio in New York City was a famous gathering spot for all the leading artists of the day. In 1891, with the backing of two collectors in Southampton,  Chase opened a painting school in Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, where he taught a generation of young painters the art of plein air painting in outdoor classes.
See our article on the American Impressionists.
Also see the article "
Henry Hensche, Charles Hawthorne and the Plein Air Legacy of William Merritt Chase".

Samuel Mützner (1884 - 1959)  was a Romanian artist who work in both Romania and Venezuela, South America, where he founded the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Caracas.

oil painting of woman in New England Garden by Guy Rose 
             Girl in a Wickford Garden    Oil   Guy Rose  (posted in accordance with fair use principles) 

          oil painting of a garden by John Twachtman        oil painting of roses in a garden by van Gogh
                  Greenwich Garden      Oil     1896                      Rosebush in Blossom       Oil     1889  
                     John Henry Twachtman   (PD)                                   Vincent van Gogh   (PD)

          oil painting of a garden by Vincent VanGogh         oil painting of woman in garden by Claude Monet
               Garden with Flowers       Oil       1888                   In the Garden              Oil              1895
                          Vincent van Gogh   (PD)                                        Claude Monet   (PD)

          oil painting of Oleanders in a garden by Joaquin Sorolla         oil painting of garden with fountain by Joaquin Sorolla
             Oleanders in the Courtyard     Oil     1918             Gardens of the Generalife     Oil    1910
                            Joaquin Sorolla   (PD)                                          Joaquin Sorolla (PD)

Guy Rose (1867 - 1925) was born in California, the son of a prominent California senator. While recuperating from an accidental gunshot to the face on a hunting trip, he began sketching and painting. He studied at the California School of Design and in Paris. Rose lived in Giverny from 1904 to 1912 near his friend and mentor, Claude Monet.

John Henry Twachtman (1853 - 1902) was an American Impressionist born in Ohio. He studied in Munich and Paris. He settled in Connecticut and taught at the Art Students League in New York.
See the article "The Origins of Impressionism in America".

Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890) was born in the south of the Netherlands and died at the age of 37 from what is thought to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound. After working for a firm of art dealers, teaching, and working as a missionary in Belgium, van Gogh began to sketch and paint from life. Van Gogh moved to Paris and was greatly influenced by the work of the French Impressionists.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863 - 1923) painted portraits and the landscape of his native Spain. After studying master paintings in Madrid, Sorolla received a grant allowing him to study for four years in Rome. Sorolla received great success in his lifetime. His late work was a series of panoramic murals titled "Vision of Spain" housed in the Hispanic Society of America in New York. See our article:  "Sorolla Up Close"

           Oil Painting of Flowers by Gustav Klimt         oil painting of garden with Sunflowers by Gustav Klimt
            Flower Garden        Oil        1907        (PD)      Country Garden with Sunflowers  Oil   1906  (PD)
                                                           both above: 
Gustav Klimt

             oil painting of woman in garden by cornelius Vreedenburgh
                                                 Garden with Blossoming Trees             Oil
                           Cornelus Vreedenburgh
(posted in accordance with fair use principles)

Gustav Klimt (1862 - 1918) was born near Vienna in Austria-Hungary. He attended the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He began his career by painting interior murals and ceilings in large public buildings. Klimt was a founding member of the "Vienna Secession", a group whose goals were to provide exhibitions for unconventional young artists.

Cornelis Vreedenburgh (1880 - 1946) was a Dutch painter. He painted landscapes throughout Amsterdam and was largely self-taught.

           Oil painting of flowers in a garden by Vincent Van Gogh        oil painting of Monet's family in the garden by Claude Monet
               Daubigny's Garden        Oil       1890              The Artist's Family in the Garden   Oil    1875
                          Vincent van Gogh   (PD)                                           Claude Monet (PD)

           oil painting of a garden by Vincent van Gogh         oil painting of garden by Pierre Bonnard
              Flowering Garden          Oil          1888                  Le Jardin   
ca. 1937      Pierre Bonnard  
                           Vincent van Gogh   (PD)                      (posted in accordance with fair use principles)

           oil painting of garden by Henri Matisse         oil painting of Luxembourg Gardens by Maurice Prendergast
                 Luxembourg Gardens     Oil     1903                      Luxembourg Gardens     Oil     1907
Pierre Matisse   (PD)                                          Maurice Prendergast   (PD)

Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947) was born in France, studied law, and briefly practiced as a barrister. He was a founding member of "Les Nabis", a post-impressionist group of artists. He created posters, book illustrations and theater set designs in addition to his paintings.

Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954) was born in the north of France near the Belgian border. He studied law and passed the bar before discovering painting (disappointing his father). His mother gave him art supplies when he was convalescing from appendicitis. He said, "From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life."

Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858 - 1924) was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and grew up in Boston. His apprenticeship as a commercial artist is considered to have been a strong influence in the illustrative style he developed as a fine artist. He studied in Paris from 1891 to 1895. Although he produced some works in oil, he primarily focused on watercolor and monotyping.

           oil painting of garden by Berthe Morisot        watercolor of garden by Childe Hassam
             Roses Tremieres (Hollyhocks)   Oil   1884         Isles of Shoals Garden   Watercolor     1892
                          Berthe Morisot   (PD)                                              Childe Hassam    (PD)

        landscape oil painting of garden by Frederick Bazille
                  The Terrace at Meric, Oleander          Oil         1867         Frederic Bazille        (PD)

         oil painting of woman in garden by John Atkinson Grimshaw
                The Rector's Garden Queen of the Lilies     Oil     1887     John Atkinson Grimshaw   (PD)

             Oil painting of garden by Victor Musatov        Oil painting of Maine garden by Childe Hassam
                  Poppies in the Garden      OIl     1894      Celia Thaxter's Isle of Shoals Garden  Oil  1890
Victor Musatov (PD)                                           Childe Hassam    (PD)

Berthe Morisot (1841 - 1895), a French Impressionist, painted the domestic daily life of the haute bourgeoisie. Many of her paintings portray her husband, Eugene Manet (brother of Edouard) and their daughter, Julie. She developed her own distinctive artistic style at a young age and was accepted into the Salon at 23. Corot introduced Morisot to plein air painting, which she embraced, eventually persuading Edouard Manet to try it as well. She also introduced Manet into the influential group of painters who would become known as the Impressionists. See our article:  "Les Trois Grandes Dames".

Childe Hassam (1859 - 1935) worked as a wood engraver, draftsman and illustrator in Boston before beginning to paint, initially in oil and later in watercolor. He was a prolific artist and was instrumental in bringing the principles of impressionism to art in America becoming one of "The Ten" group of Impressionists.  He studied in Paris. See the articles "Evolution" and "The Origins of Impressionism in America".

Frédéric Bazille (1841 - 1870) was born into a wealthy French family. After moving to Paris, he began to study painting full-time and became friends with Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Édouard Manet. Bazille was killed in the Franco-Prussian War at the age of 28.

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836 - 1893) was born in Leeds, England. He was largely influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and created realistic landscapes with vivid colors and details.

Victor Borisov Musatov (1870 - 1905) was born in Russia. As a child, he suffered a spinal injury which left him humpbacked. He studied in Moscow, St. Petersburg and later Paris. He is known for his decorative style  and with Mikhail Vrubel is considered the creator of the Russian Symbolism style.

             oil painting of Luxembourg Gardens by George Luks        oil painting of a garden by Gustave Caillebotte
                 Entrance Luxembourg Gardens      Oil                    The Garden            Oil          1878 
                             George Luks     (PD)                                          Gustave Caillebotte     (PD)   

             oil painting of woman in a garden Pierre Auguste Renoir        oil painting of gardens by Henri Edmund Cross
                          The Garden        Oil         1875                   The Flowered Terrace         Oil       1905
Pierre Auguste Renoir   (PD)                                  Henri Edmond Cross   (PD)

                 oil painting of a garden by Berthe Morisot
                       The Garden at Bougival               Oil             1884          Berthe Morisot          (PD)

George Luks (1867 - 1933) was an American artist and illustrator associated with the Ashcan School. His subject were often urban environments. As a teenager he performed in vaudeville. Early on, he traveled to Europe to study painting in Düsseldorf, London and Paris.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 - 1919) is one of the well-known French Impressionists painters. He studied in Paris and was accepted in the Paris Salon in 1864. His impressionist style evolved into a more formal one later in life. Renoir is known for his passion for painting. In later life and suffering from severe arthritis, he continued to paint with his brush tied to his wrist.

Henri Edmond Cross (1856 - 1910) was a French impressionist painter and printmaker. A relative financed his first drawing lessons under Carolus-Duran. He continued his studies in Paris. He co-founded the "Société des Artistes Indépendants" and is considered to have been a Neo-Impressionist .

              oil painting of the gardens at Generalife in Grenada Spain by Theo van Rysselberghe        oil paintng of a garden by the sea by Childe Hassam
         The Gardens of Generalife in Grenada  Oil  1913          Garden by the Sea        Oil        1892  
                       Theo van Rysselberghe    (PD)                             
Childe Hassam  1892     (PD)

              oil painting of woman sitting in a garden by Mary Cassat        oil paintng of woman sewing in a garden by Berthe Morisot
           Lydia Seated in a Garden with a Dog in Her Lap           Pasie Sewing in Bougival's Garden
                     Oil    ca. 1880    Mary Cassat   (PD)                     Oil     1881      Berthe Morisot (PD)

                  oil paintiing of woman in a garden by Henri Martin
                                    In the Garden            Oil              1904           Henri Martin          (PD)

Theo van Rysselberghe (1862 - 1926) was a Belgian artist who was influenced by the impressionist movement and the pointillist artists.  He traveled to paint in Hungary, Romania, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and is most well-known for his paintings from his many trips to Morocco.

Mary Cassatt (1844 - 1926) was from America, but spent most of her adult life in France. Women were not allowed to study at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, during this time, but Cassatt contracted to study privately with master painters from the school. At the height of her painting career, she embraced Impressionism and plein air painting enthusiastically, and was invited to show with the Impressionists by Degas. She is perhaps most well known for her richly-colored paintings on the theme of mother and child. See the article "Les Trois Grandes Dames".

Henri Martin (1860 - 1943) was born in Toulouse, France. He studied at the Toulouse School of the Fine Arts before moving to Paris and later studying in Italy. Eventually Martin moved to a quieter environment near Cahors. His work has been described both as Impressionist and Pointillist.

             watercolor painting of house in Bermuda by Winslow Homer         oil painting of a garden by Henri Martin
                Flower Garden and Bunglaow, Bermuda                 Fountain in Marquayrol     Oil     1885
               Watercolor  1889   Winslow Homer   (PD)                          Henri Martin   1885   (PD)

              oil painting of Tuileries Gardens by Edouard Vuillard         oil painting of a garden by John Henry Twachtman
                     The Tuileries Gardens, Paris     Oil                            In the Garden     Oil     ca. 1900
                                Edouard Vuillard     (PD)                                  John Henry Twachtman   (PD)

                  oil painting of Claude Monet painting in his garden by Pierre Auguste Renoir
                          Monet Painting in his Garden      Oil     1873       Pierre-Auguste Renoir     (PD)

                  oil painting of a gardener working in a garden by Frederick Bazille
                             The Little Gardener          Oil        1867           Frederick Bazille          (PD)

                         oil painting of iris in a garden by Vincent van Gogh
                                      Irises              Oil            1889          Vincent van Gogh          (PD)

                         oil painting of flowers by Stanley Spencer
                  Garden Study   Oil     1947   Stanley Spencer 
(posted in accordance with fair use principles) 

Winslow Homer (1836 - 1910) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up in what was at the time rural Cambridge. He began work as an apprentice to a commerical lithographer, quickly becoming an illustrator, covering the front lines of the Civil War. His illustration work influenced his later painting style. Homer spent time painting in Paris and England, eventually moving to Prouts Neck, Maine, living at his family's estate on the ocean. See our article "Desperately Seeking Homer".

Edouard Vuillard (1868 - 1940) was a French artist and member of the group "The Nabis", post-impressionist avant-garde artists including Pierre Bonnard. He also designed settings, programs and painted frescoes on commission for private clients and theaters. His paintings and decorative works often depict gardens, interior scenes and street scenes.       


Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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