Andrew Brown Donaldson’s watercolour focuses on a scene in Kensington Garden. It features the well-known ornamental lake The Round Pound, that was created in 1730 by George II, and just behind, Kensington Palace itself. Reaching almost the entire width of this watercolour the work does justice to the size of the pond that stands at approximately seven acres in extent. Around the pond are situated several charming scenes – a family about to launch a model sailing boat, a governess with a pram and two ladies taking rest on a bench using their parasols to shelter from the sun. With Andrew Brown Donaldson’s careful placement of flecks of colour the scene is given further life by the inclusion of various birds and other animals that accompany the visitors.
Andrew Brown Donaldson was a British artist who was mainly active in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was born in 1840, although some sources say 1838, and was the second son of a solicitor named William Leverton Donaldson and his wife, Margaret Tennent. As their name implies, the Donaldsons were of Scottish descent and they were perhaps best known in the nineteenth century for their prominence in the field of architecture.
Margaret Tennent was the daughter of John Tennent of Glasgow and his wife, Margaret Brown, daughter of Andrew Brown, after whom Andrew Brown Donaldson was evidently named. Inexplicably, Andrew Brown Donaldson is commonly referred to in the art world as Andrew Benjamin Donaldson.
Andrew Brown Donaldson studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and he also underwent a period of training in Rome. In 1872 he was married at St. Pancras in London to Agnes Emily Twining, the youngest daughter of the well-known tea merchant Richard Twining (III) of Messrs R. Twining & Co. – Twinings – in the Strand. They had six children.
Andrew’s oil and watercolour paintings, the style of which was heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite movement, primarily depict either actual landscapes or imagined scenes from history and mythology. Although based in London, living first in Kensington and latterly in Hampstead, Andrew Brown Donaldson frequently toured through mainland Europe in search of new scenes and inspiration, often accompanied by his wife and children.
The London Metropolitan Archives holds a set of diaries kept jointly by Andrew and Agnes from the start of their marriage until the time of their deaths and they offer a vivid snapshot of domestic life in an upper-middle-class family in Victorian and Edwardian London.