Russell Page: art, photographs and papers (partially catalogued)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 803 PAG
  • Dates of Creation
      1940s-2002
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English French
  • Physical Description
      7 A boxes, 2 plan boxes, 1 art folder, 7 glass slides and 1 OS photograph (catalogued); 1 bankers box (uncatalogued)

Scope and Content

The archive comprises for the most part photographic material of gardens Page designed in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States of America. Gardens include Longleat House, the Festival Gardens at Battersea Park commissioned for the 1951 Festival of Britain, for which Page was awarded the OBE, privately owned gardens on the Mediterranean coast, and the courtyard garden at the Frick Collection, New York. Many photographs were taken by Page himself during the 1950s-1980s, some are annotated by him, and many were used in his publications. The archive also includes copies of some of Page's garden design plans, his drawings and sketches, published articles by him and publications relating to him and his work. An associated archive, ref PAG/Z1/1-5, comprises the correspondence and papers of Page's secretary, Helen Hogan, relating to her employer.

Please note the Library holds additional uncatalogued material comprising further slides and photographs, survey listed as PAG/survey/8.1-8.21. Also copy plans of Russell Page garden designs produced as part of a thesis by Natalia Bianchi at Milan Polytechnic, 1991-1992, survey listed as PAG/survey/Z2/1-27. A list of plans says they relate to Leeds Castle, Pavillon Colombe, Kiluna Farm, Delaoutre property, Villa Silvio Pellico, Villar Perosa, La Mortella, Chelsea Flower Show, Exposition International de Bruxelles, Thyssen property, Rothschild property, The Cottage, National Botanic Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Agnelli property, Haras de Varaville, Vistorta, Frescot, Arboretum, Hemelrijk property, Agnelli property, Les Halles, Frick Collection, Exeter Service Station, Victoria and Albert Museum and PepsiCo. These items were sent by Bianchi to Baroness Van Zuylen in 1993

Administrative / Biographical History

(Montague) Russell Page (1906-1985) was born in East Anglia. Brought up in the country, he became captivated at an early age by rock plants, and having taught himself through books from the local library, built a rock garden at his parents' house. This led to commissions to build rock gardens for neighbours, who encouraged his enthusiasm for gardening. He began to visit well-known gardens to gain inspiration. At the age of 27 he went to the Slade School of Art for two years before moving to Paris, where he continued to study art, at the same time making valuable connections with horticulturists and landowners. He returned to England in 1929, and began accepting commissions as a designer. After the Second World War Page moved back to France, where his reputation grew and commissions flooded in from many countries, resulting in a great deal of travel.

Page was commissioned to design the Festival Gardens in Battersea Park for the Festival of Britain in 1951, for which he received the OBE, and from his base in Paris he won a gold medal for a French garden that he exhibited at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1958. The majority of his designs were for gardens for private clients, on the Continent and further afield - notably in the United States, where he designed the courtyard of the Frick Collection, the sculpture garden at the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Temple of Flora at the National Arboretum in Washington DC. In Britain his work included the gardens of Leeds Castle and Howletts, both in Kent, and those of Badminton House in Gloucestershire. Page was married twice, first to Lida Gurdjieff from 1947 until their divorce in 1954, and then to Vera Milanova Daumal, who died in 1962. His autobiographical work, 'The Education of a Gardener' was published in 1962.

Source: Annabel Downs, Montague Russell Page (ODNB)

Arrangement

The current arrangement is expected to be temporary pending further accruals from Russell Page's family.

Each folder of photographic material has been described as a discrete unit, with no attempt made to reposition material that may relate to other properties, due to uncertainty of identification in many instances.

The photographic material relating specifically to Page's garden designs has been arranged in loosely chronological groups comprising early mixed media, later mixed media, and colour transparencies. This arrangement largely reflects the arrangement of the material when it came to the Library.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation. It is essential to check opening hours and make an appointment. Readers are required to wear protective gloves when consulting photographic material.

Acquisition Information

The main archive was deposited on permanent loan by Russell Page's executors in 1996, with possible further transfers following the 1998 exhibition in Rome. An associated archive comprising copy plans by Russell Page was donated to the Lindley Library by Natalia Bianchi, per Baroness Van Zuylen, around 1993, reference PAG/survey/Z2/1-27. A further associated archive was donated to the Lindley Library in Sep 2003 following the death of Helen Hogan, Page's long-time secretary.

Other Finding Aids

The Lindley Library descriptive catalogue, available on-line via the Archives Hub, and as a paper copy in the research room.

Archivist's Note

Art works catalogued by Charlotte Brooks, RHS Lindley Library art curator, in March 2015. Remaining material catalogued by Liz Taylor, RHS Lindley Library archivist, in March 2015, with research assistance from Jennian Geddes, Lindley Library volunteer. Packaging carried out by Annie Johns, RHS Lindley Library volunteer.

Accruals

Further accruals are anticipated.

Related Material

Garden design plans by Russell Page are held at the Garden Museum, London.