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Jonathan Myles-Lea

Jonathan Myles-Lea

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Jonathan Myles-Lea is an English painter of country houses, historic buildings, and landscapes in a miniaturist technique, typically taking the form of aerial views. Myles-Lea also works in portraiture, creates abstract paintings and installations.

Life and career

Jonathan Myles-Lea was born in the Lake District
Lake District
The Lake District, also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous not only for its lakes and its mountains but also for its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth...

 in Northwest England. Much of his early life was spent in this region of the UK with walks and outdoor activities. He was introduced to the series of walking guides written and illustrated by Alfred Wainwright
Alfred Wainwright
Alfred Wainwright MBE was a British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator. His seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, published between 1955 and 1966 and consisting entirely of reproductions of his manuscript, has become the standard reference work to 214 of the fells of the...

. The pen and ink drawings included with these guides were an early influence on Myles-Lea's emerging style.

He was educated first at Hutton Grammar School
Hutton Grammar School
Hutton Grammar School is a Voluntary Aided Church of England day school for boys, with a co-educational Sixth Form. It is located south west of Preston, Lancashire, in Hutton, England. The school no longer offers boarding, and offers education for boys from ages of 11 through to 16, with the Sixth...

 and won an arts scholarship to attend Malvern College
Malvern College
Malvern College is a coeducational independent school located on a 250 acre campus near the town centre of Malvern, Worcestershire in England. Founded on 25 January 1865, until 1992, the College was a secondary school for boys aged 13 to 18...

 in Worcestershire from the ages of 15 until 18; he won the painting prizes in 1985 and his senior year, 1986. In 1988 he traveled extensively in Europe making a modern Grand Tour
Grand Tour
The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage...

 study of art and architecture. He gained an Honours Degree in 'The History of Art & Architecture' from Westfield College, The University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

 in 1991.

He worked for three years in arts broadcasting. He held positions as a press and PR officer for arts and entertainment programmes, and a continuity announcer at Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 TV. He also produced and directed an adaptation of Brian Friel's play The Faith Healer. He became a member of The Colony Room
The Colony Room
The Colony Room was a private members' drinking club for artists and other creative people in Dean Street, Soho, London. It gathered a reputation akin to famous clubs of the past such as the Kit-Cat Club. According to Anthony Haden-Guest, it is "one of the fiercely eccentric clubs that make all the...

, where he was introduced to the renowned Anglo-Irish painter Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon (painter)
Francis Bacon , was an Irish-born British figurative painter known for his bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw imagery. Bacon's painterly but abstract figures typically appear isolated in glass or steel geometrical cages set against flat, nondescript backgrounds...

, who encouraged him to undertake a professional career in painting.

In 1992, Myles-Lea left Channel 4 and went to assist a friend for a year in the restoration of two historic buildings in the British countryside. These were, Bettisfield Park, in Shropshire, a Classical house built by Sir James Wyatt in 1760, and Plas Teg
Plas Teg
Plas Teg is a Jacobean house in Wales. Located near the village of Pontblyddyn between Wrexham and Mold, it was built by Sir John Trevor I in about 1610. At the time of construction it was the most advanced house in Wales and few others of this date can truly be compared to its uniqueness...

 a Jacobean mansion in Wales, originally designed by Sir Robert Smythson in 1610. At Bettisfield, he re-created the original gardens and replanted the parkland using surviving plans from the 18th century. He made his first landscape painting, Plas Teg, Clwyd (1992).

In 1995, Myles-Lea was commissioned to paint image of 'The Laskett', a large formal garden created by Sir Roy Strong, then director of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A Museum.
Shortly afterwards Myles-Lea was commissioned by Gervase Jackson-Stops OBE
Gervase Jackson-Stops
Gervase Frank Ashworth Jackson-Stops OBE was an architectural historian and journalist. He died of an AIDS-related illness.-Education:...

, a senior advisor to The National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 to produce a plan of Stowe Landscape Gardens (1995). Patronage by The National Trust continued in the mid 1990s with a commission to produce a series of pen and ink sketches of the house and garden features and a landscape plan of the gardens at Cliveden
Cliveden is an Italianate mansion and estate at Taplow, Buckinghamshire, England. Set on banks above the River Thames, its grounds slope down to the river. The site has been home to an Earl, two Dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor....

, Taplow, Buckinghamshire.

In 1996, John Harris, writing for Sotheby's, said:
Felix Kelly owes much to Rex Whistler
Rex Whistler
Reginald John 'Rex' Whistler was a British artist, designer and illustrator.-Biography:Rex Whistler was born in Eltham, Kent, the son of Henry and Helen Frances Mary Whistler...

 and was the modern master of the country house capriccio... Today Kelly's natural follower seems to be Jonathan Myles-Lea who heightens the projection of his scene with certain mysterious overtones as we can see in Plas Teg, Clwyd (1992) or Trewane Manor, Cornwall (1993).

In 1997 Myles-Lea was included in the feature, "Living National Treasures" by Country Life
Country Life (magazine)
Country Life is a British weekly magazine, based in London at 110 Southwark Street, and owned by IPC Media, a Time Warner subsidiary.- Topics :The magazine covers the pleasures and joys of rural life, as well as the concerns of rural people...


In 2009, Myles-Lea was commissioned to create an oil painting for the cover of Country Life magazine, Dream Acres was the first commissioned painting ever to be featured on the cover of Country Life for the opening issue of their 12 week Dream Acres gardening feature. Country Life publishing director Jean Christie said “This is the first cover of this kind for Country Life in its 112-year history, and the first editorial double gatefold we have produced. This is another example of Country Life breaking with tradition to showcase a magnificent issue.”

In July 2009, author and journalist Jonathan Self
Jonathan Self
Jonathan Self is an author and journalist. He began his career as an advertising copywriter and founded Self Direct, a direct marketing agency in 1982. He sold his business in 1993 in order to raise his three children. He published his autobiography, Self Abuse, in 2001 and The Teenager’s Guide to...

 described Myles-Lea as 'The successor to Stubbs
George Stubbs
George Stubbs was an English painter, best known for his paintings of horses.-Biography:Stubbs was born in Liverpool, the son of a currier and leather merchant. Information on his life up to age thirty-five is sparse, relying almost entirely on notes made by fellow artist Ozias Humphry towards the...

 and Constable
John Constable
John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...


In September 2009, Grosvenor Estates
Grosvenor Group
Grosvenor is a privately owned property group with offices in 18 cities. It has four regional investment & development businesses in Britain & Ireland, the Americas, Australia and Asia Pacific; an international fund management business, which operates across these markets and in continental Europe;...

 asked Myles-Lea to provide artworks in collaboration with Linley
David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley
-Ancestry:-External links:* * * *...

 to furnish a recently renovated townhouse in Lower Belgrave Street.

Myles-Lea's main work is his paintings of historic buildings, country houses and their gardens and estates. These are portrayed in a traditional landscape view, and also from an aerial perspective. The landscape paintings are generally in the range of 42" x 30", executed using a miniaturist technique. He has painted portraits of Evelyn H. Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc, (2004), and Brian Avon, Director of Global Visual Merchandising, Aveda, (2004).

His work has been exhibited at Sotheby's
Sotheby's is the world's fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation.-History:The oldest auction house in operation is the Stockholms Auktionsverk founded in 1674, the second oldest is Göteborgs Auktionsverk founded in 1681 and third oldest being founded in 1731, all Swedish...

  and The British Library in London.

His pictures have been featured in The Artist and the Country House by John Harris, The Artist and the Garden by Sir Roy Strong
Roy Strong
Sir Roy Colin Strong FRSL is an English art historian, museum curator, writer, broadcaster and landscape designer. He has been director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London...

 and The Story of Gardening by Penelope Hobhouse.

A number of his abstract works have also appeared as the artwork on the covers of a series of novellas by the art historian and writer Stephen Little
Stephen Little
Stephen Little is an American Asian art scholar, museum administrator and artist.Dr. Little's father was a linguist and cultural attaché for the government of the United States. Stephen was raised in Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma, and Turkey, not living in the United States until age 11. He...


He also appeared as a guest of the broadcaster Trevor Barnes in his BBC World Service radio programme about the spiritual significance of garden design A Place in Paradise: Spiritual Gardens.


Myles-Lea lived and worked in Brussels during 2002. It was during this residency in the Belgian capital that he vigorously promoted his work to mainland European clients building on early successes from commissions such as Kasteel Wylre (commissioned by Marlies & Jo Eyck, 1999). Myles-Lea lived and worked in New York during 2003/4. It was during this period in New York that he continued to develop his painting of abstract pictures building on the influences he had experienced whilst living in Brussels. Myles-Lea occupied a studio in Belsize Park, Hampstead from 2004-2006. The house had previously been the wartime home of the artists Ben Nicholson
Ben Nicholson
Benjamin Lauder "Ben" Nicholson, OM was a British painter of abstract compositions , landscape and still-life.-Background and Training:...

 and Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth
Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE was an English sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism, and with such contemporaries as Ivon Hitchens, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo she helped to develop modern art in Britain.-Life and work:Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield,...

. Relocating from Hampstead in the latter part of 2006, Myles-Lea took an apartment in Wyndham Place, Marylebone
Marylebone is an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St. Marylebone or Mary-le-bone....

, which was his principal residence and studio until October 2011.

Myles-Lea is now in residence at The Folly, within the grounds of Sir Roy Strong's Laskett Garden at Much Birch in Herefordshire. This is now his principal residence and studio.


Myles-Lea's paintings are executed on Belgian linen which he prepares with six fine layers of hand mixed gesso composed of warm rabbit skin glue and whiting (chalk dust). This is then sealed with a layer of gelatine size and a ground prepared with a mixture of burnt unber and yellow ochre oil paints. He uses paints manufactured by 'Old Holland', a company established in 1664 which supplied Dutch Masters such as Van Gogh, Vermeer and Van Ruisdael. 'Old Holland's' pigments are still ground today between porphyry rollers which ensure their extended colour permanence.

Since 1992, Myles-Lea has designed and made the frames for all his major works. These are of a timber construction which are gessoed, ebonised, gilded and waxed. They resemble the traditional Spanish and Dutch frames of the 17th century.


The following exhibitions have featured work by Jonathan Myles-Lea
  • The Artist and the Country House - from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day Sotheby's, London (1996) .
  • Painting the West Country House and Garden The Holburne Museum, Bath (2006).
  • The Artist in the Garden The British Library, London (2007).


Selected paintings
  • The Laskett (1995) (commissioned by Sir Roy Strong)
  • Burghley House (1996) (commissioned by Simon and Lady Victoria Leatham)
  • Cliveden (1996) (A series of garden drawings commissioned by The National Trust (of Great Britain))
  • Througham Court (1997) (commissioned by Dr Christine Facer)
  • Hanbury Hall (1997) (commissioned by The National Trust (of Great Britain))
  • Gresgarth Hall (1998) (commissioned by Sir Mark and Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd)
  • Maybanks Manor (2001) (commissioned by Mr & Mrs Beckwith-Smith)
  • Wartnaby House (2001) (commissioned by Lord and Lady King
    John King, Baron King of Wartnaby
    John Leonard King, Baron King of Wartnaby was a businessman famous for leading British Airways from an inefficient, nationalised company to one of the most successful airlines of recent times...

  • Ein Englischer Garten in Koln (2002) (commissioned by Udo & Kirsten Lammerting)
  • The Manor House, Chipperfield (2005) (commissioned by Rory Tapner
    Rory Tapner
    Rory Tapner is a UK businessman and in August 2010 was appointed the new CEO of Wealth Management at Royal Bank of Scotland, taking over from Brian Hartzer, an interim appointment after the departure of John Baines in February 2010...

    , Director UBS Warburg)
  • The Manor House, Upton Grey (2006) (commissioned by Rosamund Wallinger)
  • Highgrove House and Gardens (2008) (commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales)
  • Highgrove - The Sundial Garden (2008) (commissioned by Lady Isabel King)
  • Maze with Folly Behind (2008) (Painted for Gensler Can Change Charity Auction for Cancer Research UK
    Cancer Research UK
    Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. As the world's largest independent cancer...

  • Waddeton Court (2009) (commissioned by Mr & Mrs Andrew Brownsword
    Andrew Brownsword
    Andrew Douglas Brownsword , is an English entrepreneur, developing his fortune through the greeting cards and gifts of Forever Friends. He has regularly featured on the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated fortune of £190 million....

  • Domaine de Boyéres, Provence (commissioned by Viscount Linley
    David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley
    -Ancestry:-External links:* * * *...

     for Princess Salimah Aga Khan)

Further reading

  • Aslet, Clive (ed.) Living National Treasures – A Celebration of Craftsmanship through the Eyes of Country Life Magazine Pavilion Books Limited ISBN 1 862 050325
  • Avery, Collin (1996) Artists & Country Houses at Sotheby's The Financial Times newspaper - January 1996 pp. 13–14.
  • Baker, Mark (2006) Plas Teg: A Jacobean Country House Brampton House Publishing ISBN 0953744043
  • Barnes, Trevor (1999) The New Draftsman's Contract The Daily Telegraph newspaper. 21 August 1999.
  • Barr, Anne (1995) Barometer Harpers & Queen magazine. June 1995, pp. 12.
  • Conforth, John (1998) The Country Houses of England Constable & Company ISBN 0 094 791503
  • Dixon Hunt, John (2000) Greater Perfections - The Practice of Garden Theory Thames and Hudson ISBN 0500281939
  • Edmonds, Richard (2000) Interview: Roy Strong - A growing concern; Richard Edmonds meets Roy Strong whose new book about gardens reflects his passion for nature The Birmingham Post. 14 October 2000.
  • Glendinning, Victoria (2000) Visions of Paradise Literary Review magazine - August 2000. pp. 25.
  • Guinness, Bunny
    Bunny Guinness
    Bunny Guinness is a chartered landscape architect, journalist and radio personality who is a regular panellist on the long running BBC Radio 4 programme, Gardener's Question Time. She also writes a weekly column in the Sunday Telegraph...

     (2005) Portrait of a Garden The Sunday Telegraph - December 2005, Property Section.
  • Hall, Michael (1996) Only a Picture of a House Country Life magazine - 11 January 1996. pp. 26.
  • Harris, John (1996) The Artist and the Country House, from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day: Exhibition to Benefit the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture London: Sotheby's ISBN 0962258822
  • Harris, John (2006) A Peculiarly English Passion Country Life -February 2006. pp. 76–77.
  • Hobhouse, Penelope (2002) The Story of Gardening Dorling Kindersley ISBN 0 751 333905
  • Luke, Ariel (2009) Garden Painters: Contemporary Artists London: A & C Black Publishers Ltd ISBN 071368206X
  • Lyttelton, Celia (1995) Artist in Residence Tatler magazine. September 1995. pp. 159.
  • Kerr Forsyth, Holly (2007) Portrait of an Estate The Australian. 29 September 2007.http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22499617-13223,00.html
  • Kerr Forsyth, Holly (2010) The Gardeners Book of Days Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978 0 522 85672 9
  • Noel, Celestria (1999) Going to the Chapel House & Garden magazine - October 1999. pp. 192–198.
  • Pavord, Anna Gresgarth Hall Gardens Illustrated magazine. April 1999. pp. 46.
  • Pereire, Anita (1999) Gardens for the 21st Century ISBN 1 854 106392
  • Proudlove, Christopher (1996) Pictures from the Past bring Old Homes to Life Liverpool Daily Post newspaper. 6 January 1996.
  • Riley, Bronwen (1995) Patina of People Country Life magazine - 12 October 1995. pp. 61–61.
  • Self, Jonathan (2009) Interview - Jonathan Myles-Lea, Artist Country Life Magazine - 1 July 2007. pp. 52
  • Strong, Sir Roy (1997)The Roy Strong Diaries Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN 0 297 818414
  • Strong, Sir Roy (2000) The Artist & the Garden Yale University Press ISBN 0 300 085206
  • Strong, Sir Roy (2004) The Laskett - The Story of a Garden Transworld Publishers ISBN 0 593 050703

  • Country Life magazine (1996) Living National Treasure - Country House Painter, (Editorial) Country Life magazine - 22 February 1996. pp. 47.
  • Country Life magazine (1997) The Painting of Hanbury Hall Country Life magazine - 17 July 1997. pp. 82.
  • Country Life magazine (2009) Dream Acres Country Life magazine - 29 April 2009. Front Cover and central double page spread.
  • World of Interiors Painting the West Country House and Garden - A Review of The Holburne Museum's Exhibition World of Interiors. February 2006. pp 112–113.

External links