Full disclosure: I live in a cottage and I am a gardener. It’s no wonder then that I’m continually drawn to romantic cottage and garden paintings.
The creator of this pretty watercolor, James W. Milliken, is another of those very private artists whose history we can only trace through exhibition records. We do know that he lived in Liverpool and that between the years 1887 and 1930 he exhibited works at the Royal Academy in London and the Royal Cambrian Academy (RCA) in Wales, and fifty paintings at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The RCA notes that Milliken was known for his watercolor landscapes and continental street scenes, but he is perhaps most popularly regarded for his depictions of cottage gardens. The Academy also says that he was born in 1865 and died in 1945. The Walker Art Gallery/Museum today houses the largest art collection in England outside London, visited by 1,000 people on average per day.
In my long experience, I’ve come across a number of Milliken’s works depicting the ideal country or village life. Frankly, I did not find all of them exciting; in fact, some were so drab I could easily ignore them. But then, like us all, all artists have their good and bad days. (Perhaps in his later years he had an increasing number of bad days, as it is said that he died a pauper.)
Although I personally wouldn’t trade places with the lady feeding geese in this scene, it must be said that Milliken captured in this lovely watercolor the quintessential serenity and charm many of us envision when we think of the perfect village life. Everything seems to have a pink glow. When hung on a wall to admire, who needs reality?
The watercolor is housed in a very nice modern gilt frame with much pattern to it. The mat was well-executed with a gilded edge that adds to the decorative effect.
The watercolor itself is in excellent condition, with no foxing or staining. The gilt frame has remained attractive, showing no issues.
It measures 17 inches wide by 14 inches high.
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