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This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden

The family of George II, William Hogarth©

Gardens are where man and nature meet. They change by the hour, day to day, and with the seasons. They carry associations about the status, approach to life, and sometimes even the political affiliations of their creators. Gardens may be intended for public enjoyment or private delight; they may be open to the masses or closed to all but a chosen few. They may be places of scientific study, havens for the solitary thinker, spaces for flirtation and for love.

Presented with its many manifestations, artists have looked at the garden in different ways, extracting and emphasising those facets unique to their culture and their age. At the same time individual elements drawn from the garden, whether architectural or botanical, have at certain periods come to the fore and taken their place in the decorative arts of western Europe. This exhibition explores the ways in which the garden inspired artists and craftsmen between 1500 and the early twentieth century.

Explore the exhibition below

Detail showing couples in a Persian garden

The first recorded gardens arose in Persia

details from painting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, 1615
The Sacred Garden

Middle Age depictions of gardens were heavy with symbolic meaning

Pleasure Garden with a Maze detail
The Renaissance Garden

The fifteenth century saw a growth in formal gardens for monarchs

Detail of man in front of a turf bench
The Pergola

Pergolas were popular in the garden from Roman times onwards

Drawing and notes showing two seed heads from rushes
The Botanic Garden

Western Europe experienced an explosion of new plant material during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries

Drawing of a Baroque vase
The Baroque Garden

The formal garden style evolved in Italy and France in the early seventeenth century

View of a garden
The Baroque Garden and the Artist

The formal seventeenth-century garden was full of exciting new features which engaged artists.

A couple in a wooded scene
The Landscape Garden

The landscape garden was England’s greatest cultural export of the eighteenth century


Guide to resources available at the Gallery

Millar Learning Room

Explore the exhibition in more detail

People walking in the gardens at South Kensington
The Horticultural Garden

The Victorian period was the age of flowers

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.