David Jones

The Garden Enclosed


Not on display

David Jones 1895–1974
Oil paint on wood
Support: 356 × 298 mm
frame: 490 × 428 × 38 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1975

Display caption

Jones made this painting to mark his engagement to Petra Gill in 1924, when he was twenty-eight and she was seventeen. At the time Jones was living in a community led by Petra Gill’s father, the artist Eric Gill. In 1989 it was revealed that Eric Gill sexually abused Petra and her elder sister Betty. It is not known if Jones was aware of this. Petra Gill broke off the engagement in 1926.
The painting seems to convey an atmosphere of anxiety and tension. Petra Gill’s hand on Jones’s chest suggests resistance, while the discarded doll (made for her by her father) may symbolise lost childhood. The title refers to the Song of Solomon, in the Hebrew Bible, in which the speaker compares his beloved to an enclosed garden. In Christian tradition, this has been seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.

Gallery label, May 2021

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Catalogue entry


Inscribed ‘David Jones 24’ b.r.
Oil on panel 14×11 3/4in. (29.9×35.5)
Purchased under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest from the David Jones estate through Anthony d'Offay 1976
Exh: The Goupil Gallery Salon, Goupil Gallery 1924 (118); David Jones, Anthony d'Offay, 1965(1)

The following information was obtained in conversation with Petra Tegetmeier (née Gill) on 7 July 1976.

The figures in the painting represent Petra Gill and David Jones. David Jones came to live with Eric Gill and his family in 1921 as his apprentice. He became engaged to Petra on 29th June, 1924, when she was not quite 18 and ‘Garden Enclosed’ was painted as an engagement picture in July. It must have been completed by August when Hopkin's Crank, the Gill house at Ditchling was closed and the family moved to Wales, (Petra who was apprenticed to Mrs. Maniet, the weaver and dyer in Ditchling, stayed behind and David went to London). Even then, David Jones was not particular about where he painted; ‘Garden Enclosed’ was probably painted in the converted barn which they called ‘The Sorrowful Mysteries’ where he slept with Denis Tegetmeier and Reginald Lawson. Later when David and Petra went to Capel-y-Ffin at Christmas to join the Gill family, he painted by the window while Petra wove in the same room. According to Petra Tegetmeier she and David might have married if the Gill family had stayed at Ditchling, but David Jones was not happy in Wales and he came to the realization that he could not devote himself to his art and be a family man. He was sad but pleased therefore, when Petra married Denis Tegetmeier in 1930. (She broke her engagement to David Jones in 1927). He had known Denis Tegetmeier since they both painted some lettering for Eric Gill on the New College Memorial in the summer of 1921.

In a letter to the compiler, 26th May 1976, René Hague explained the location of ‘Garden Enclosed’.

'The location: the observer is standing outside the back door of the Gill's house, Hopkin's Crank. The stepped bridge buttress you see in the bottom left-hand corner supports the wall of the kitchen. The left-hand branch of the two buildings was a wood shed. In the smaller an old man, one legged, a man about the place called Tom Weller used to sleep, but he was dead by 1924 and it was just a shed. The triangular shaped construction... (was) a hen coop, for a broody hen....

‘The doll in the foreground tossed on the ground, is a touching symbol of the abandonment of the things of a child. Her name was Brynhilda...’

There is another description of the garden and orchard behind Hopkin's Crank in Desmond Chute, Blackfriars, Dec. 1950.

Petra helped to look after the geese and chickens. Their inclusion is typical of the artist's well-known interest in animals and birds. Traditionally geese are a symbol of Mother Earth and are linked with destiny. They are also associated with young girls. The artist was probably aware of this and may have been thinking of the fairytale ‘The Little Goose Girl’. He also believed that animals instinctively reacted to various moods which would seem to explain why he showed the geese running away from the embracing couple.

In conversation with the compiler, Paul Hills suggested that the leafy green shapes and the stylized forms of the tree trunks show Paul Nash's influence. Furthermore, Denis Tegetmeier told the compiler that Jones was friendly with Ben Nicholson at this time. The feeling of enclosure in T02013 looks forward to the Welsh landscapes of 1925. (See Paul Hills, Agenda No. 110 No. 4). The primitiveness was an interest shared by all the Gill circle. As David Jones himself said: ‘My work at this period was stylized, conventionalized and heavily influenced by theory and imitative of Christian art’. (Taken from notes in the Tate file made by the artist, 5th September 1935).

David Jones did not paint many other paintings and he gave it up altogether, according to Denis Tegetmeier because it was too messy. In a letter to the compiler 26th May 1976 René Hague wrote:

‘We have here an interesting accompaniment to this picture, a square-ish one (19 1/2 in.×14 1/2 in.) of the same type and period, which is drawn from the other end, from outside the two buildings in your picture, so that you see the buttress, kitchen window, door etc., (no figures)’.

This may have been the work David Jones called ‘The Garden Path’ which he showed at the Goupil Gallery in 1924 with T02013. Also a watercolour called ‘The Lovers’ was shown which may have been a preparatory study. Another watercolour (coll. Mr and Mrs Denis Tegetmeier) shows Petra standing alone in the garden on the brick path with a small cat beside her. And an earlier watercolour study also owned by the Tegetmeiers depicts The Visitation in Hopkin's Crank garden with the brick path and the buttress of the house showing.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978


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