THE MOTIVATION TO CREATE THIS WEB SITE
An important reason for the creation of this website is to share more efficiently Nicole Milette's ongoing admiration and research on Alfred Parsons, via the internet.
Alfred William Parsons R.A. was a British landscape painter and outstanding illustrator, who artistically designed significant gardens mostly in England and some in Scotland and the United States. Parsons and his contemporaries believed that an artist could design better gardens.
While doing a master's degree at the University of York in England, Nicole admired the quality of Parsons’ landscape illustrations in several of William Robinson’s wild gardening books. She became curious of who he really was without finding much published information. She very soon found out that he was a well respected landscape painter, very much involved within his artistic community. In 1992, she then discovered unknown archival material relating to his partnership in garden design with Charles Tudway and Captain Partridge at the Somerset Record Office. This gave Nicole a terrific incentive to stay longer in England so as to do a PhD.
Her doctoral thesis, entitled Landscape-Painter as Landscape-Gardener, The Case of Alfred Parsons R.A., deals with painting, illustration, landscape architecture and architecture of the Arts and Crafts period at the end of the nineteenth century. She spent five years in the U.K., researching and writing full time about Alfred Parsons, mostly under the supervision of Dr. Brent Elliott. The Viva (thesis defence) took place at the Saint-Paul's Cathedral Chapter House in 1997. The thesis is now in the permanent collection of over 30 libraries, mainly in Britain, including the British Library, the National Art Library in London and the Bodleian Library in Oxford. It is part of the national art libraries of Canada and Quebec and also at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. In 1995, Nicole published Parsons, Partridge, Tudway, an unsuspected Garden Design Partnership.
Nicole has been influential in making Parsons better known to the U.K. landscape design community. She has also revealed to art galleries and collectors the extent of his artistic output. As a member of the Garden History Society and the Royal Horticultural Society, Nicole has assisted several researchers in their work on this important English landscape-painter and landscape-designer.
The main argument of this thesis, is the brief resurgence in the late nineteenth century of the belief that an artist could create better gardens than those designed without artistic knowledge or vision.
The work of Alfred Parsons, Royal Academician (1847-1920), as a professional landscape-painter and professional landscape-gardener is described for the first time. This is also the first comprehensive analysis of Parsons' works within their social context. Parsons' patrons tended to have faith in such leaders of English cultural thought as John Ruskin, William Morris and William Robinson, whose ideas were widely circulating in the garden literature of the time.
This resurgence, which appeared early in the 1870s, vanished with the First World War.