Alfred Parsons, R.A. 1847 - 1920
Orange Lilies, Broadway, Worcestershire
Photo: R.A./John Hammond
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Orange Lilies, Broadway, Worcestershire, ca. 1911
Oil on canvas, 920 X 660 mm
Diploma Work given by Alfred Parsons, R.A., accepted 1911
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Alfred Parsons was not only a painter but also an accomplished gardener, a judge at the Chelsea Flower Show and advisor on the laying out of the garden at Wightwick Manor, near Wolverhampton. This painting probably depicts Parson’s own garden in the Worcestershire village of Broadway. Although carefully tended, it reflects the revival of the cottage garden developed by Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Edwin Lutyens, at the end of the nineteenth century. Here the plants in the herbaceous border are allowed to grow naturally together, rather than being laid out formally.

Parsons was dedicated to painting studies of individual flowers. Among the projects he undertook was the execution of over one hundred and fifty watercolours for the botanist Ellen Ann Willmott, who had magnificent collections of roses in her gardens at Great Warley in Essex and on the Franco-Italian Riviera. In this painting however Parsons did not let his detailed knowledge of individual plants and flowers to detract from its idyllic atmosphere.

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