Gertrude Jekyll

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Gertrude Jekyll

by William Nicholson
oil on canvas, 1920
30 1/8 in. x 30 1/2 in. (765 mm x 775 mm)
Given by wish of Sir Edwin Lutyens, 1947
Primary Collection
NPG 3334

On display in Room 25 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), Horticulturalist and writer. Sitter in 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

This portrait, for which Jekyll was a most reluctant sitter, was commissioned by her great friend and collaborator, Sir Edwin Lutyens and painted at her house in Munstead Wood. The portrait was given by Lutyens.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Bennett, Sue, Five Centuries of Women and Gardens, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 October 2000 to 21 January 2001), p. 116
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 184
  • Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 184 Read entry

    Gertrude Jekyll was trained as a painter at the School of Art in South Kensington, but because of myopia turned to embroidery, interior decoration and, later in life, to gardening. She became editor of The Garden in Munstead in autumn 1920 (she apparently was extremely reluctant). According to William Nicholson, 'It was a great event for me to meet Gertrude Jekyll, and I remember thinking her exactly the person I should like to paint. It wasn't an easy job, however, because she thought herself unpaintable - she said she needed all the light for her work - that after work she needed rest, and that there was one chair in front of the fire where she always rested.' When the portrait was exhibited at the Grafton Gallery in 1921, Jekyll wrote 'It is no enterprise of mine & I do not even know who its mover or what its destination - all I had to do with it was to sit, which I did after a good show of resistance as I think ugly people had better not be painted.'

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 335

Placesback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1920back to top

Current affairs

The Government of Ireland Act (Fourth Home Rule Bill) partitions Ireland into the Irish Free State with a devolved parliament in Dublin and Northern Ireland with a devolved parliament in Belfast.
The Communist Party of Great Britain is founded in London, uniting a number of independent socialist and Marxist parties into a single, united party.

Art and science

Queen Alexandra unveils a monument to Edith Cavell in St Martin's Place opposite the National Portrait Gallery. The English nurse was executed in Germany for helping hundreds of allied soldiers to cross the border from occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands.
George V officially opens the Imperial War Museum at the Crystal Palace.


The Kapp Putsch threatens the newly formed Weimar Republic. In defiance of the Treaty of Versailles, the leaders of the Marinebrigade Ehrhardt refused to disband and marched on Berlin, occupying it on the 13th March. With the general army refusing to defend the city, the government fled to Stuttgart. The rebellion, however, failed after the workers joined a general strike, disabling their plans.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

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Annabel Watts

22 January 2017, 08:38

I am sorry to have to contact you again, but it would be more correct if you put ......'and painted at her house, Munstead Wood'. Please read my previous correction where I say 'Munstead' isnt sufficient. Check on the internet, MUNSTEAD WOOD, GJ's home.

Annabel Watts

15 January 2017, 07:36

Your citing of 'Munstead', isn't accurate. Her home was Munstead Wood where the portrait was painted, her mother's house was Munstead House. So 'Munstead' isn't sufficient. Munstead Wood is near Godalming, as in its address. This I know as I am head gardener at Munstead Wood!

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