18th Century
Elegant Figures in a Formal Garden by a Country House

Oil on canvas
Image size: 36 x 51 1/2 inches (91.5 x 131 cm)
Contemporary style frame

Private Estate

This landscape depicts a view of a house, with extensive gardens, ponds, outbuildings. There is immaculate detail in this artwork, lending itself to convey a narrative in every section. See in the middle foreground a tired old mare that has taken rest in the cool shadows of the day, observe the smartly dressed couple in the centre of the canvas who have decided to take a stroll around the manicured gardens. Perhaps most entertaining of all, one can see a man and woman who appear to be fishing in the man-made river that has been constructed on the estate. With the river mesh grates and fences that have been been placed under the water, the fish have little chance to survive the couple’s pastime.

The country house and estate portrait, was a fashionable genre in Britain by the late seventeenth century. The typical extended view allows a maximum amount of detail to be depicted, including possibly the best recorded fishing garden of the period.

Depictions of houses and their gardens were popular subjects in Flemish art. The formal Baroque gardens of the 17th Century were heavily reliant on symmetry and the principle of imposing order on nature.

This is not only a very beautiful work of art but also a very important historical document of the estate. This painting is part of a great tradition of views of country houses, which would become celebrated in the work of artists such as Jan Sibrechts, Leonard Knyff and Jan Griffer.

Most of these works date to the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and are by sophisticated foreign artists who visited England seeking aristocratic patronage. What makes the present picture of particular importance is that it is unusual to show the large house with the surrounding village.

The painting is evidence of a tradition aware, through engravings, of earlier Dutch artists such as Hollar.