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Morris Museum of Art opens Golden Afternoon. English Watercolors from the Elsley Collection

The Morris Museum of Art presents Golden Afternoon. English Watercolors from the Elsley Collection, on view APRIL 21–JULY 1, 2012.

Henry John Sylvester Stannard, Lily Pond, Goldney House, Bristol, 1933. Watercolor on paper. The Elsley Collection.

The exhibition includes forty exquisite watercolors of many of the most famous gardens of the Victorian and Edwardian eras painted by some of the foremost garden painters of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

“This breathtaking collection of English watercolors recording the Golden Age of the English garden—lovingly assembled over the past forty years by English-born horticulturist John Elsley, a resident of Greenwood, South Carolina—captures images of some of the most beautiful garden designs created at the turn of the last century,” said Kevin Grogan, director of the Morris Museum of Art.

Patronage of the arts during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras took distinctly different, though complementary, forms, resulting from the commissioning of the foremost garden designers of the period and a group of remarkable artists who recorded the landscaped splendor of the age. In these marvelous evocations of an age long past, lawns bathed in sunlight, sculptured evergreens, and inviting pathways draw the viewer deeper and deeper into the artist’s world, where flowers appear in glorious abundance, bursting the borders of their beds and cascading over walls. There is a kind of balance achieved between the work of the garden designers and the artists who interpreted their work that serves as a contrast to the many tragic consequences of World War I. Most of the gardens represented in the present exhibition are irretrievably lost, but this record remains. And that has helped to maintain the pervasive influence of the classic English gardening style. –

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