George Samuel Elgood, RI ROI (1851-1943) George Samuel Elgood is best known for his watercolours of gardens, which were informed by a combination of observation and knowledge, and exemplfiy a classic genre of the Edwardian age. However, his range encompassed landscapes and interiors, as is exemplified by the present work.
George Samuel Elgood was born in Oxford Street, Leicester, on 26 February 1851, one of 10 children of a wool merchant. Brought up in Suffolk, he was educated privately and, for a year, from 1865, at Bloxham School, near Banbury. For financial reasons, the family returned to Leicester soon after that date. He studied at Leicester School of Art, and sketched the surrounding countryside with his teacher, Wilmot Pilsbury; his brother, Thomas Elgood; and his future brother-in-law, John Fulleylove.
Another brother, Richard, would found the Leicester firm, Elgood Brothers, Art Metalworkers.
Elgood specialised in architecture at the National Art Training School, South Kensington (which later became the Royal College of Art). However, the death of his father in 1874, forced him to return to Leicester to take over the family yarn agency. Though able to paint only in his spare time, he managed to produce images of Leicestershire and elsewhere, and began to exhibit them at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool and in London at the Dudley Gallery and the Baillie Gallery.
Following his marriage to the artist, Mary Clephan, in 1881, Elgood painted full time. They based themselves at Rose Cottage, Markfield, Leicestershire, and also spent several months each year in Italy. He exhibited at London and provincial societies, and at dealers, including the Leicester Galleries and especially the Fine Art Society, where he held 13 solo shows. He was elected to the membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (1881) and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (1883).
After the turn of the century, Elgood worked increasingly as an illustrator of books, including Some English Gardens (1904 with Gertrude Jekyll), Some Italian Gardens (1907) and two books by Alfred Austin: The Garden that I Love (1905) and Lamia’s Winter Quarters (1907). He worked as a landscape gardener, specialising in the laying out of formal gardens, and becoming an authority on Renaissance gardens in England, Italy and Spain. From 1908, he lived with Mary at Knockwood, Tenterden, Kent, dying there on 21 October 1943. His wife survived him by 15 years.
His work is represented in the collections of the Art Gallery New South Wales (Sydney).
Further reading: Diana Baskervyle-Glegg, ‘Elgood, George Samuel (1851- 1943), H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, vol 18, pages 43-44; Eve Eckstein, George Samuel Elgood: His Life and Work 1851-1943, London: Alpine Fine Arts Collection, 1995