Friday, November 28, 2014
Garden History 18C Over There - 1786 English Garden with garden-bench, greenhouse, urn, espaliered wall, & flower pots.
This 1786 painting of the Lettsom family offers much to explore in 18C garden developments in England & how those translated across the Atlantic to early American gardens. The painting is notable for its close-up images of a garden bench, greenhouse, urn, espaliered wall, & flower pots.
John Coakley Lettsom (1733–1810) was a Quaker & a well known figure of the English Enlightenment, the movement in the 18C towards freedom of thought & equality of rights for all mankind. Born in the Virgin Islands, he sailed to Britain & was apprenticed as a surgeon-apothecary in Yorkshire. After returning to the West Indies to free the slaves he had inherited, he came back to Britain, became a physician, & acquired immense wealth through his medical practice catering toward many rich & noble patients. He used his wealth in numerous philanthropic projects, such as the Aldersgate Street Dispensary, which gave free medical care & soup kitchens, & the Royal Humane Society, which was concerned with saving people from drowning. He also promoted charity through essays on slum housing, alcohol abuse, & the problems of the blind. As an apothecary, he was also a keen gardener, & the painting shows him in the garden of his house in Camberwell, with his wife & 5 of his children.