Emma Tennant Paintings at Chatsworth House

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Latest update 30.05.2013 16:23

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

The Exhibition

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’.

One of the paintings, a particular favourite of the Duchess, features the Rhododendron barbatum, which will be in flower in March at Chatsworth as the exhibition opens.

6th Duke of Devonshire

The exhibition takes its inspiration from the 6th Duke of Devonshire’s plant list, unearthed from the Chatsworth archives by Emma. Some of the plants can be 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.

Emma Tennant

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.

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. They pay tribute to the famous plant hunters to whom gardeners of today owe so much.


The exhibition is in the New Gallery at Chatsworth and is included with admission to the house.