The Empress and the Gardener

The Empress and the Gardener, Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court, Surrey KT8 9AU, until 4th September 2016

The West Front of Hampton Court Palace © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The West Front of Hampton Court Palace
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

This is a fine exhibition which combines ‘Capability’ Brown’s role as gardener to King George III and Catherine the Great’s love of things English.  The sixty watercolours and drawings on show reveal the gardens of Hampton Court as they were when Brown was in charge of them but ironically he did not transform them out of respect to these who had created these Baroque-style gardens.

The Privy Garden © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Privy Garden
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

In Russia Catherine had created an ‘English palace’ and ‘English Park’ but lacked a gardener of Brown’s capabilities. However seeing an opportunity Brown’s assistant John Spyers sold two albums of his drawings which he had removed from Brown’s house at Hampton Court to the Empress for a thousand roubles. A huge amount for images that did not show any of Brown’s work and the drawings were lost in the Hermitage collections until their rediscovery in 2002.

The Fountain in the East Front Garden © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Fountain in the East Front Garden
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Other items on show include portraits of Brown and the Empress, drawings of her English Palace and pieces from the famous Wedgwood Frog Service, made for the Empress, which depict some of the famous English landscapes Brown created.

Portrait of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, by Richard Cosway (C) Private Collection - Bridgeman Images

Portrait of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, by Richard Cosway
(C) Private Collection – Bridgeman Images

 http://www.hrp.org.uk/

East South Front © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

East South Front
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

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