Friday, March 3, 2017

A Bird’s Eye for Country House Design

While I imagine a number of people throughout the UK are familiar with the handsome work of artist Jonathan Myles-Lea, he is clearly not a household name here in the US. Best known for his house and landscape portraits, his work recalls past masters like John Constable and Johannes Kip. My personal favorites feature the traditional “bird’s eye views” of country houses—a style popular throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

A view of Burghley House - from the west. Image Rights: Jonathan Myles-Lea.
Though Myles-Lea had been well-established as a noted painter of landscapes and houses, the commission he received for the April 29, 2009 cover of Country Life, featuring a fantasy 10-acre estate, clearly solidified his reputation as a worldwide talent. The resulting Dream Acres project was a central part of the 10-week series appearing in the magazine—featuring the stylized aerial views for which he has become particularly celebrated.

Other work which Myles-Lea has become notably associated with are his projects for Prince Charles at Highgrove and his aerial illustration of Sir Roy Strong’s garden, The Laskett, in 1994. It is no surprise that gardens and houses have become his primary subjects, as he graduated from The University of London with a Bachelors Degree in The History of Art & Architecture. As you might expect, his high standards and superlative work has resulted in one notable commission leading to yet another.

Plas Teg, Clwyd, North Wales, 1991. Image Rights: Jonathan Myles-Lea
The artist maintains studios in both England and the Unites States, and can be commissioned to paint portraits of your own home and garden. Much of his sketches, photos and other archival material are being collected by The University of Oxford and a book is reportedly in the works.

Personally, I have always found these traditional “bird’s eye views” rather enchanting, and having recently viewed my own house in a 3D view on Google Earth, I may attempt to use it as a guide to paint my own house portrait in this manner. A task for another time, however…

Inspiration for a future work of my own? Perhaps...

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