Iris Garden

Iris Garden by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 108. What impressed Menpes most was the different aspect of the irises in the evening:

As the silver evening gradually changed to purple night — a purple only seen in Japan — the festoons of lanterns which illuminated the summer-houses became of one colour with the landscape, and then, as the night darkened to a deeper purple, the lights changed to bright orange. It would be impossible to put such colours on canvas: the only way to represent them would be by precious stones. [110-11]

In that light, it seemed, the irises appeared to glow. So inspired was Menpes that he sketched iris gardens (or perhaps the same garden from different angles) several times. — Jacqueline Banerjee

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Related Material


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. 27 June 2019.

Created 27 June 2019