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A collection of paintings by Emma Tennant celebrates the plants and flowers of Chatsworth
Musa acuminata 'Dwarf Cavendish' by Emma Tennant ©Hermitage Rugs.


CHATSWORTH.- Watercolours of the plants and flowers at Chatsworth by the artist and gardener Emma Tennant aree exhibited at the Derbyshire stately home from March 24 to June 30 2013.

The famous Cavendish banana and the Grapes Muscat of Alexandria are just two of the botanical subjects grown at Chatsworth that feature in the exhibition; Emma Tennant at Chatsworth: the Duke’s sister paints favourite plants at home and away.

The exhibition takes its inspiration from the 6th Duke of Devonshire’s plant list, unearthed from the Chatsworth archives by Emma with some of the plants found still growing at Chatsworth. Emma sought out and grew some of the missing specimens from seed and found others growing elsewhere to enable her to include as many Chatsworth specialities as possible.

The Duke said: “We’re delighted to be able to stage this exhibition which celebrates my sister Emma as an artist, gardener, botanist and historian. What a wonderful way to pay tribute and record some of the huge variety of plants and flowers introduced by the 6th Duke and carefully grown here under the supervision of Joseph Paxton. I’m sure many visitors will enjoy viewing the paintings”.

One of the paintings, a particular favourite of the Duchess, features the Rhododendron barbatum, which is in flower in March at Chatsworth.

A keen gardener, Emma Tennant began painting as a way of recording what was happening in her garden, in the tradition of the botanical illustrator before the advent of photography. Now her works are widely collected by gardeners, art collectors and artists alike.

One of the UK’s leading artist-designers David Gentleman said: “Her fresh limpid watercolours, with their thin pen line, have a light touch, but the paintings are careful, made with curiosity, intensity and love. She combines botanical accuracy with a free and lively line.”

Emma Tennant used to describe herself as a gardener who painted, but now sees herself as a painter who gardens. She said: “Painting is the final process of having grown something from seed. Painting makes me think about the act of gardening. Artists conduct an intense but unspoken dialogue with their subject, be it a landscape, a still life, a person or a flower. Gardeners, similarly, communicate with the plants that they grow.”

The paintings are accompanied by the artist's detailed notes about the plants, and items from the Chatsworth archive, and pay tribute to the famous plant hunters to whom gardeners of today owe so much.






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A collection of paintings by Emma Tennant celebrates the plants and flowers of Chatsworth

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