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An oil painting of a garden party at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria and Alexandra, Princess of Wales are returning to the Palace in an open carriage pulled by two grey horses; in the garden, on the left, the Prince of Wales is conversing to a couple in

Their history, form and function

Attributed to Adriaen van Diest (c.1655-1704)

Buckingham House c. 1703-10

RCIN 404350

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Before its acquisition by George III, the house and garden were the property of John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham and his descendants. This painting from the first decade of the eighteenth century, which shows the garden façade of the house, may have been commissioned to celebrate the building’s completion around 1705. What is immediately striking about this painting is the amount of land that is given over to parkland for deer to graze.

Henry Wise, royal gardener to Queen Anne, also worked for the Duke of Buckingham on his garden for a retainer of £1000 per year. During this period, a long formal canal was dug (visible at the far right of the painting with some floating swans). The banks of the canal were later lined with a double avenue of lime trees. Descriptions of the Duke’s garden attest to there being a wide variety of different plants in the garden including an elaborate flower parterre with sweet-smelling roses, honeysuckles, jasmines and lilies as well as fragrant herbs including rosemary, sage and lavender. The garden also featured fountains and statues, some of which are visible in the painting. We can also see a number of potted plants which flank the steps down from the back of the house. Contemporary accounts state that bay and orange trees were planted in this manner during Buckingham’s time.