Attributed to George Walter Dawson (1870-1938)
Overall: 15 1/2 x 9 1/2"
Sight: 9 3/4 x 13 3/4"
Signed lower right
Watercolor on paper
George Walter Dawson was the second son of Jackson Thornton Dawson and Mary (Minnie) McKenna Dawson. Minnie and Jackson Dawson were living in the gardener's cottage of the John Dove Estate in Andover Massachusetts, where Jackson was working as gardener, when George was born on March 16. 1870. George's father, Jackson, become the head gardener of the Bussey Institute at Harvard University in the Autumn of 1871, and later became the first staff member of the Harvard University Arnold Arboretum and a world renown plant plantsman, rose breeder and plant propagator.
George lived with his family in an apartment over the Bussey Institute headhouse and attached greenhouse from 1871 to 1886. In 1886, when George was 16 years old, Jackson and Mary Dawson moved to a house at 1090 Centre Street in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts, which became the site of the Arnold Arboretum's first greenhouse and nursery area.
George grew up surrounded by flowers, plants and and magnificent landscapes, which later became a central focus of his artwork. His detailed knowledge and familiarity with flowers and plants are reflected in the quality and character of much of his artistic works. One of his most renowned and finest works of art is a watercolor painting of the Center Street house adorned with some of his father's famous roses.
George attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School, now the Massachusetts College of Art, and graduated in 1893. He continued his studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and became an Instructor in Instrumental Drawing at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1893. By 1911 he was Professor of Freehand Drawing and Watercolor, and in 1921 the University awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.
Well known as a painter in watercolor of gardens, landscapes, and flowers, his knowledge of plants eventually led to his designing gardens and teaching landscape design. George Walter Dawson passed away in 1938. References, information and excerpts from: "Mr. Dawson, Plantsman", by Shelia Connor Geary and B. June Hutchinson, Arnoldia 40(2), March/April 1980, a publication of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
The following information is provided by John C. Peterson, PhD, former Director and President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, currently Professor of Horticulture and Director of the Plant Science Major, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.