32 Mar­tyn Rix’s favourite paint­ing

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

The botanist and writer chooses an ex­otic, at­mo­spheric land­scape of a view he re­cently vis­ited

Mar­tyn Rix is a botanist, plant col­lec­tor, gar­dener and edi­tor of Cur­tis’s Botan­i­cal Mag­a­zine. His new book, Flora Japon­ica, will be pub­lished in Septem­ber to co­in­cide with an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Shirley Sher­wood Gallery in Kew

Ed­ward Lear’s wa­ter­colours of the East are very at­mo­spheric, es­pe­cially when they com­bine a group of no­mads or camels with a view of dis­tant moun­tains. He painted many fa­mous sites when they were wild and aban­doned and I re­mem­bered this paint­ing when plan­ning to go to the Pelo­pon­nese in March. We went to see the tem­ple and hoped to find Lear’s view. The ancient oak forests are still there as you ap­proach the site, their branches cov­ered with ferns, and, here, the tree is faith­fully painted. It is high and cold for Greece and this comes over in the paint­ing, which must have been sketched in late au­tumn after the grass had be­gun to grow. Alas, the tem­ple is still un­der­go­ing restora­tion and is cov­ered with a huge plas­tic tent that has been there for al­most 30 years

The Tem­ple of Apollo at Bas­sae, 1854– 55, by Ed­ward Lear (1812– 88), 4¾ft by 7½ft, Fitzwilliam Mu­seum, Cam­bridge

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