Oil on board, signed & inscribed ‘DX’ lower left
Image size: 13 ¾ x 10 ½ inches (35 x 27 cm)
Original gilt frame
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St John’s Jerusalem or Sutton-at-Hone Preceptory is a National Trust property at Sutton-at-Hone, Kent. It includes the 13th century chapel of the Knights Hospitaller and a garden moated by the River Darent. St John’s Jerusalem was initially established as a Commandry of the Knights Hospitalier of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. The mediaeval sections of the property were predominantly constructed around 1234. By 1388 the property had ceased to be used as a preceptory.
Here Russell paints the exterior of St John’s Jerusalem. The building seen in the back of this scene is the remaining chapel, here shown with its lancet windows (tall narrow windows with a pointed arch). Adjacent to this, through the arch in the hedge in the background, lies an orchard. This was established in 167o by Naturalist Abraham Hill.
The garden takes up the majority of the picture space. Set against high hedges, Russell focuses on the traditional wide herbaceous borders that provide a dramatic display of summer-flowering perennials. To create the flowers in the foreground Russell has used heavily built up layers of impasto paint. This, alongside the somewhat out of focus forms in the distance, brings prominence to the flowers themselves and makes them the protagonists of this picture.
J Elgar Russell exhibited mainly between 1899 and 1907, including the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Royal Academy. He spent most of his life in St Ives, Cornwall.