Morris’s understanding of colour combined with his deep knowledge of flowers has rightly earned him a reputation as one of the most accomplished flower painters of the twentieth century.

In his studies of flowers Morris manages to capture not just an accurate likeness but also a sense of character and they are often likened to portraits, each with a personality and a story to tell. The present work is an interesting example of his stylistic developments which occurred during the late 1940s and early 1950s. During this time Morris began to instigate brightness in tone which is notable in the light blues, pinks and whites present in this composition. These mid-century works also typically have a smoother surface with less impasto, imbuing many of them with a softer and lighter finish.

This painting once formed part of the impressive collection of horticulturist Beth Chatto OBE VMH, and her husband Andrew, who became part of the close group...

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Morris’s understanding of colour combined with his deep knowledge of flowers has rightly earned him a reputation as one of the most accomplished flower painters of the twentieth century.

In his studies of flowers Morris manages to capture not just an accurate likeness but also a sense of character and they are often likened to portraits, each with a personality and a story to tell. The present work is an interesting example of his stylistic developments which occurred during the late 1940s and early 1950s. During this time Morris began to instigate brightness in tone which is notable in the light blues, pinks and whites present in this composition. These mid-century works also typically have a smoother surface with less impasto, imbuing many of them with a softer and lighter finish.

This painting once formed part of the impressive collection of horticulturist Beth Chatto OBE VMH, and her husband Andrew, who became part of the close group that congregated at Benton End, Cedric Morris' and Arthur Lett-Haines’ home. Chatto found in Morris a confidant who was equally, if not more so, devoted to nature. She described her first visit to Benton End, and described the garden in glorious detail;…a bewildering, mind-stretching, eye-widening canvas of colour, textures and shapes, created primarily with bulbous and herbaceous plants. Later I came to realise it was possibly the finest collection of such plants in the country, but that first afternoon there were far too many unknown plants for me to see them, let alone recognise them.[1]

In this sense, Morris’ garden can be viewed as an extension of his painting. When painting his own plants and flowers Morris was evidently committed to compositional organisation as informed by the juxtaposition of contrasting organic forms and colours.

[1] B. Chatto quoted in Hugh St. Clair, A Lesson in Art & Life, The Colourful World of Cedric Morris & Arthur Lett-Haines (London: Pimpernel Press, 2019) p.150.

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500 Years of British Art