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A Response to ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’ – an Exhibition of Contemporary Botanical Paintings at The Garden Museum, London April–September 2017

By 5th April 2017October 28th, 2022No Comments
The Tradescants' Orchard exhibition pictures

A contemporary exhibition comprising watercolours by fifty eminent botanical artists is to be staged alongside a display of ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, a 17th century volume of 66 watercolours depicting fruit varieties that John Tradescant and his son might have grown in their market garden at Lambeth.

The artists, invited by The Garden Museum, have selected varieties now considered to be heritage fruits. In the adventurous spirit of the plant-hunting Tradescants, artists from across the globe have embraced the project with works coming from Europe, Korea and USA.

The centrepiece of this exhibition will be the display of ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, considered one of the Bodleian Library’s finest treasures. The Orchard is a practical document that records the size, colour and texture of fruit with their ripening dates. The fruits are accompanied by charming depictions of birds and insects that will delight the exhibition’s visitors.

The Garden Museum at Lambeth

The Garden Museum, housed in the ancient church of St Mary at Lambeth, will reopen in 2017 after a £7.5 million restoration project. Since it closed its doors in October 2015, it has been impossible to imagine what is going on behind the hoardings on Lambeth Road and what might emerge when the museum reopens in early 2017.

The renovated Museum will open with an extensive exhibition to celebrate the Tradescants father and son, gardeners to King Charles I and II, whose magnificent tomb in St Mary’s churchyard inspired the foundation of the Garden Museum.

The Tradescants at Lambeth

John Tradescant (1580-1638) was celebrated for his ability to grow fruits, and at Lambeth he planted an orchard of new and rare varieties. The botanist John Parkinson wrote of plums that, ‘the choysest for goodnesse, and rarest for knowledge, are to be had of my very good friend Master John Tradescante, who hath wonderfully laboured to obtaine all the rarest fruits hee can heare off in any place of Christendome, Turky, yea or the whole world’.

The Tradescants’ collection of art and natural history, known as the Tradescant Ark, was one of the great wonders of London. The Garden Museum will re-open in Spring 2017 with an exciting recreation of the Ark.

For more information and images please contact Emma House at