The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920

American Impressionists and the growing popularity of gardening as a middle-class leisure pursuit at the turn of the 20th century. Nominated for a Global Fine Arts Award


The Artist’s Garden has been nominated for a Global Fine Arts Award. Twenty-eight of the best exhibitions produced around the world during the past year were selected by a prestigious jury of art professionals. Thank you for your support. The winner will be announced on November 30, 2015.

American Impressionists and the growing popularity of gardening as a middle-class leisure pursuit at the turn of the 20th century

Focused on the period 1887-1920, The Artist's Garden exhibition and catalog tell the story of American Impressionist artists and the growing popularity of gardening as a middle-class leisure pursuit at the turn of the 20th century, bringing together paintings, sculpture, books, and stained glass. The Artist's Garden is organized around themes of American Artists/European Gardens; the Lady in the Garden; Leisure and Labor in the American Garden; the Urban Garden; the Artist’s Garden; and the Garden in Winter/Garden at Rest.

Among the artists whose works are included are: Hugh Henry Breckinridge, Cecilia Beaux, William Merritt Chase, Charles C. Curran, Maria Oakey Dewing, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Daniel Garber, Philip Leslie Hale, Childe Hassam, Violet Oakley, Jane Peterson, Jessie Willcox Smith, John H. Twachtman, Robert W. Vonnoh, and J. Alden Weir.

The exhibition and publication include representations of gardens across both the United States and Europe, with special emphasis on the importance of the Philadelphia area, which served as the originator of the Colonial Revival Garden movement with the Centennial Exhibition in 1876. Moreover, the Philadelphia area was the center of the publishing industry in the early 1900s, which led to the creation of magazines aimed at middle class suburban gardeners like House and Garden (founded in 1901 in Philadelphia). Philadelphia was also the city that founded the Garden Club of America in 1913.

Read Anna Marley's article, "The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887—1920," published in the 15th anniversary issue of Antiques & Fine Art magazine.

See photos from the The Artist's Garden opening reception.

One exciting feature of this exhibition – in its companion show Gardens on Paper – is a rediscovered set of Autochromes - the earliest method of color photography - by artist Thomas Shields Clarke of his Fernbrook gardens in Lenox, Massachusetts. Because these glass plates cannot be exposed to light long-term, PAFA is thrilled to bring them to you HERE. The exhibition will also feature digital reproductions with back-lighting allowing visitors the chance to see how these glass plate Autochromes would have appeared when viewed through their standard viewing device – the diascope.


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is collaborating with a diverse group of gardening organizations in Philadelphia to borrow and exhibit related objects and/or to partner on programming.

A companion exhibition, The Artist in the Garden, will be on view at the James A. Michener Art Museum from February 7 - August 9, 2015. An exhibition of related work by PAFA students, alumni, and faculty, Artists in the Garden: PAFA at Morris Arboretum will be on view from March 1 - June 27, 2015.

Benefits for PAFA Members

PAFA members receive discounted admission at many partner organizations during The Artist's Garden exhibition. In addition, members of these partner organizations receive $5 off admission to PAFA.

Beyond PAFA

After the PAFA presentation, The Artist's Garden will tour to four additional venues:

Chrysler Museum of Art
June 16 - September 6, 2015

Reynolda House Museum of American Art
October 1, 2015 - January 3, 2016

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
January 23 - May 9, 2016

Florence Griswold Museum
June 3 – September 18, 2016


The Artist's Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement tells the intertwined stories of American art and the new American garden movement in the years on either side of the turn of the twentieth century. Anna O. Marley and her contributors showcase more than one hundred beautifully reproduced artworks by Cecilia Beaux, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, and others alongside the books, journals, and ephemeral artifacts that both shaped and were products of the garden movement. The volume's lavishly illustrated text considers topics that range from environmentalism to new printing technologies, from the genres of garden writing to the distinctions between public and domestic spaces or American and French impressionism. The contributors are Alan C. Braddock, James Glisson, John Dixon Hunt, Erin Leary, Anna O. Marley, Katie A. Pfohl, Judith B. Tankard, Virginia Grace Tuttle.

Purchase Exhibition Catalog