(Biggleswade 1856 - London 1924)

Study of Bay Leaves

Pencil on dark green paper.
Signed with the artist’s initials H.R. at the lower right centre.
531 x 381 mm. (20 7/8 x 15 in.)

This large and impressive pencil drawing of bay leaves was chosen for reproduction as a full-page illustration in the magazine The Artist in 1898. As the accompanying article noted of Ryland, ‘The backgrounds to many of his works are occupied with carefully-wrought floral designs as ingeniously composed as for a wall-paper. Quite as much time is given to them as to the rest of the composition, for the workmanship is very delicate, and the delineation of natural forms shows both knowledge and sympathy. The studies for these are carefully made from nature, as the reproductions given will show.’

A handful of other drawings of flora by Ryland are known, including a group of four finished drawings of Cowslips, Water Violets, Primroses and ‘The Rathe Primrose’.

A gifted painter, watercolourist, illustrator, decorator and designer, Henry Ryland studied at the South Kensington Art Schools (later the Royal College of Art) and Heatherley’s School of Art in London, before completing his studies in Paris in the studio of Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, and at the Académie Julian with Gustave Boulanger. Ryland exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1890 onwards, and also showed his work at the Grosvenor Gallery, the New Gallery and the New Watercolour Society, of which he was admitted as a full member. Like his contemporary George Lawrence Bulleid, Ryland’s work was made up primarily of classical subjects in the manner of Lawrence Alma–Tadema or Albert Moore. While he did paint in oils, much of his output took the form of highly finished watercolours, many of which were reproduced in the form of prints, which added to his reputation. He also designed a number of stained-glass panels, and produced woodcut illustrations for magazines, notably the English Illustrated Magazine.


Christopher Wood, London
Katherine Woodward Mellon, Stonington, CT
Thence by descent until 2012.


The Artist, Vol.XXIII, September-December 1898, illustrated between pp.48 and 49.


New York, Shepherd Gallery, English Romantic Art 1850-1920: Pre-Raphaelites, Academics, Symbolists, 1989, no.114; New York, Shepherd Gallery, English Romantic Art 1840-1920: Pre-Raphaelites, Academics, Symbolists, 1994, no.131.


Study of Bay Leaves