Sir William Nicholson

Miss Jekyll’s Gardening Boots


Not on display

Sir William Nicholson 1872–1949
Oil paint on wood
Support: 324 × 400 mm
frame: 595 × 673 × 57 mm
Presented by Lady Emily Lutyens 1944

Display caption

Gertrude Jekyll was a well known garden designer, who often worked in collaboration with the architect Edwin Lutyens. In 1920 she was seventy-six, and quite difficult. It is said that Nicholson painted this picture of her boots while he was waiting the opportunity of a sitting, as she would only allow this in the late afternoon. However, Nicholson enjoyed finding the revelation of character in clothing. He had painted other pictures of shoes, and of a hat.

The painting is dedicated 'For E.L.', and was a gift to Lutyens. Nicholson's portrait of Miss Jekyll is at the National Portrait Gallery.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘Nicholson 1920’ b.l. and ‘For E L ... W.N’ t.r.
Oil on plywood, 12 3/4×15 3/4 (32·5×40), including red painted border approximately 1/4 (0·75) wide.
Presented by Lady Emily Lutyens 1944.
Coll: Presented by the artist to Sir Edwin Lutyens 1920.
Exh: Beaux Arts Gallery, July 1927 (75); Nottingham, March–April 1933 (95); Beaux Arts Gallery, May–June 1933 (41); British Country Life through The Centuries, 39 Grosvenor Square, June 1937 (392, repr. Souvenir, p.43); National Gallery, January 1942 (35).
Lit: E. V. Lucas, ‘Miss Gertrude Jekyll’ in Country Life, LXXI, 1932, p.536, repr.; Steen, 1943, p.140; Browse, 1956, p.72.

Painted in 1920 to accompany the portrait of Miss Jekyll commissioned by Sir Edwin Lutyens and now in the National Portrait Gallery (repr. Steen, 1943, facing p.144; Nichols, 1948, pl.16). Miss Gertrude Jekyll, an enthusiastic horticulturist, died in 1932 at the age of eighty-nine; she used to wear this old pair of army boots for gardening. A pair of her boots and other relics are exhibited with her horticultural collection at the Guildford Museum.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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