Friday, August 15, 2014

Jonathan Myles-Lea Residential Portraits

A bird's eye view of Dream Acres
painted by Jonathan Myles-Lea
for Country Life magazine.
Image via Arabella Lennox-Boyd
The Devoted Classicist first learned of the exceptional talents of contemporary artist Jonathan Myles-Lea when his remarkable composite views of Daylesford came to light during the research for the blog essay that was the Carole and Anthony Bamford part of the series about that quintessential country house. 

A detail of the painting of Daylesford,
the Bamford estate, showing the main house
by S.P. Cockerell, the Orangery by Sanderson Miller,
the Gardener's Cottage and the large Kitchen Garden.
Image rights are the property of Jonathan Myles-Lea

Myles-Lea has been described as the successor to painter John Constable and the extraordinary muralist Rex Whistler.  While this is certainly understandable, Jonathan Myles-Lea's delightful paintings remind me of my favorite house portraits by the seventeenth-century master Johannes Kip and the twentieth-century genius Felix Kelly.

Jonathan Myles-Lea.
Photo by Juan F. Bastos.

Jonathan has a Bachelors Degree in The History of Art & Architecture from the University of London, which was undoubtedly a factor in his portraits of historic homes and gardens.  Friendships with artist Francis Bacon, art expert (and jazz singer) George Melly, and portraitist Lucien Freud led to advice that influenced his work as well.

Pen and Ink.
The Rectory at Litton Cheney: in-progress.
Image rights are the property of Jonathan Myles-Lea
This series of images for The Rectory at Litton Cheney is a 'straight-on' rather than aerial view, but shows the steps Myles-Lea goes through to produce the layers that give the finished results.

Sepia.
The Rectory at Litton Cheney: in-progress.
Image rights are the property of Jonathan Myles-Lea.
The Rectory in Dorset was the home of noted English engraver Reynolds Stone from 1953 until 1979.

The completed oil paintng, 30" x 60".
The Rectory at Litton Cheney.
Image rights are the property of Jonathan Myles-Lea.
In 1991, he painted a friend's house in North Wales, Plas Teg, that has led to over 60 commissions in ten countries.  In the United States, paintings have been commissioned by Evelyn Lauder, Norman Lear, and Oprah Winfrey.  In Great Britain, clients in addition to Lord and Lady Bamford include David Armstrong-Jones, Lord Linley; The Cliveden Estate, and Lady Victoria Leatham at Burghley House.  A friendship with one of Britain's greatest garden designers, Sir Roy Strong, led to a 1994 commission of his garden, The Laskett; Strong was credited with introductions to potential clients that led to more commissions.

The Laskett.
The garden of Sir Roy Strong and his late wife
Julia Trevelyn Oman in Herefordshire is the largest
formal garden in England planted after 1945.
Image rights are the property of Jonathan Myles-Lea.
In 2007, Prince Charles commissioned the pen and ink drawing of his country house, Highgrove, that appears on the cover of a limited-edition, leather-bound book written by the Prince of Wales and Bunny Guiness.  In addition to the aerial view, there are various garden features forming a border.  Myles-Lea also designed a crest for this map that included items to represent the Prince's hobbies: polo-sticks, apples, an artist's palette, gardening tools, and a basket of eggs.  Jonathan Myles-Lea's map also appears on other merchandise available in the Highgrove shop in addition to the book HIGHGROVE: A GARDEN CELEBRATED.

Highgrove.
Image rights are the property of Jonathan Myles-Lea
Country Life magazine commissioned an aerial view in 2009 of the fantasy 10 acre country estate, Dream Acres, that was designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd and Jonathan Self for a series of articles for the weekly publication.  "For the painting of Dream Acres, I used the sweep of the main drive to lead the eye to the house, and then on to the stream at the end of the lawn.  I wanted to make the composition as dynamic as possible so that the viewer's eye travels through the picture -- as if they were taking a stroll through the garden."  It was the first time in the long history of the magazine that an illustration had been used for a cover.

The April 29, 2009, cover of Country Life
featuring Jonathan Myles-Lea's view of
the fantasy country estate, Dream Acres.
The artist's personal archives, consisting of several thousand compositional drawings, sketches, letters, and photos are in the process of being acquired by The Bodleian Library at The University of Oxford.  A book is in the works, expected to be published in January, 2015.

The back and front cover of the new book on
Jonathan Myles-Lea.
Jonathan Myles-Lea, with studios both in England and in the United States, may be commissioned to paint a portrait of your own beloved home and garden.  For details and particulars, contact the artist directly through his website.


16 comments:

  1. The very first Jonathan Myles-Lea image, A bird's eye view of Dream Acres, reminds me of inter-war landscape artists I loved. Yes the dates are incompatible, but look at the colours and shapes of:

    1. Harry Epworth Allen, Crowlink Sussex, 37 x 55 cm, date?
    http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/inter-war-landscapes-amazing.html and

    2. Grant Wood's landscapes
    http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/inter-war-american-landscapes-grant.html

    Love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hels, yes, it's the continuation of English tradition of documenting the country house and garden that is so wonderful. And clearly that is not limited to British artists, but isn't it nice to know that it is still appreciated today by both artists and patrons alike? Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
    2. The first painting reminds me of Eyvind Earle's style, although the late Earle's were less populated.

      Delete
  2. Genius! I can see why you admire this lovely work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martha Ann, what's not to love? I appreciate your comment.

      Delete
  3. Thank You, I have a few Kip's views and love this contempo take on the genre!!
    Best,
    Liz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sold my set of 10 Kip's in particularly beautiful mats and frames (long story) but I loved them. Thanks for commenting, Liz.

      Delete
  4. I knew of him and his work but peripherally – strange, really, given the level of his talent. thank you for reminding me of him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blue, I think that his work is commissioned and then goes directly into a private collection that has kept Jonathan Myles-Lea's name out of the limelight, especially in the U.S. The new book may change that, however. Thank you for commenting.

      Delete
  5. Like Hels, I looked at Myles-Lea's delightful paintings and was immediately reminded of Grant Wood. Like Wood, he often creates landscapes of stylized volumes that make his work both realistic and charmingly fanciful. I'll certainly be looking for his book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate your comments. Thank you, Mark.

      Delete
  6. The pen and ink renderings are superb, but about the paintings in colour I've got mixed feelings. They totter on the edge of Twee.
    No mixed feelings about the looks of their handsome maker, though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Toby, the issue of color is an interesting one with a commissioned art piece. For the magazine cover, for example, I am sure they wanted it to "read." For a portrait, there may be a room's décor that has to be taken into account. I understand your point, and am sorry that I have not seen a finished painting in person to give a more accurate report. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you so much for the complimentary comments everyone. The colours in my original paintings are far more muted. They are far more saturated in reproduction. I've instructed my web designer to tone some of them down. With best wishes, Jonathan - www.myles-lea.com

    ReplyDelete

Your interest in this blog is appreciated. Other commitments might prevent an immediate response to your comments or questions. That does not lessen the value of the blog reader's input, however. Only comments relating to the current post are eligible for publication; non-relevant comments and promotional references will be deleted. Contact me at johnjtackett@gmail.com regarding other questions. Anonymous comments cannot be accepted.