Flower power

The grand staircase at Lyme Park, by Sybil Legh, 1898. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

At Lyme Park in Cheshire there is a group of small watercolours of interiors by Sybil Legh (pronounced Lee), painted in 1897 and 1898.

Early nineteenth-century wire plant stand in the entrance hall at Lyme Park. The stand is actually from nearby Dunham Massey. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Leghs had been at Lyme since about 1400.

The library at Lyme by Sybil Legh, 1897. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Sybil Legh wasn’t a professional watercolourist, but she certainly had an eye for framing a view.

Early nineteenth-century flower arrangement in the yellow bedroom at Lyme. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

 All of the watercolours include houseplants and flowers. 

The yellow bedroom at Lyme, by Sybil Legh, 1898. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

There was a project a few years ago recreating and photographing a number of documented historic flower arrangements, including the examples shown here.

The dining room table laid to design number 14 from John Perkins's 'Flower Decorations for the Table', 1877. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Flower arrangements are of course the most ephemeral of creations – but in this case they were recorded in the book Flora Domestica: A History of British Flower Arranging, 1500-1930, by Mary Rose Blacker.

4 Responses to “Flower power”

  1. Barbara Says:

    That plant stand is extraordinary!

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Isn’t it? Very popular in the early nineteenth century, as evident for instance in Charlotte Gere’s book Nineteenth Century Decoration: The Art of the Interior.

  3. littleaugury Says:

    Gorgeous, the colors red, purples, I love.thank you Emile for showing us the power of flowers. pgt

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Gaye – the effect is surprisingly powerful, isn’t it – the flowers themselves, the arranger and the photographer all working together.

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