A Garden

A Garden by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 6. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Menpes was greatly taken with Japanese gardens, as he was with so much else in Japan, particularly as they expressed and supported the artist's aesthetic sense:

The painters always live with fish, and birds, and animals of different sorts. They have fish in bottles and in ponds in their gardens. I went to many studios in Japan, and I found each one with its ponds and fish in the little garden surrounding the studio, and birds as well. They always study nature, and I believe that is the keynote of their art. [66-67]

He knew that these oases of beauty were carefully planned: "In Japan there is no such thing as accident. A scene which in its beauty and perfect placing appears to the visitor to be the result of Nature in an unusually generous mood, has in reality been the object of infinite care and thought and anxious deliberation to these little Japanese artists, the landscape gardeners" (77). Later on in the book, Menpes has a whole chapter on gardens (Chapter VI); wisteria, which brightens up this scene, seems to have been a special favourite of hi. It is certainly a favourite of the Japanese themselves, who train it to form bowers and cover walkways. He must have painted this scene in late April or early May. — Jacqueline Banerjee

You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of California and the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.


Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: A Record in Colour. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1901. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 20 June 2019.

Created 20 June 2019