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Before the Second World War, Morris was a well-known painter and breeder of irises, which he admired for their 'elegance, pride and delicacy'. In 1940 he moved to Benton End in Suffolk, where he cultivated a garden inspired by Claude Monet's at Giverny. He grew about 1,000 new iris seedlings every year.

1943, the year this work was painted, yielded a particularly beautiful crop. The flowers were placed in a Chinese jug and painted quickly so that the picture could be completed before they died. Morris admired Chinese flower painters because they conveyed something of the deeper meaning of plants.

February 2004