'Garden William Fraser' was born at Chatham, Kent, shortly before his father retired from the Army Medical Department. The Frasers were a Scottish family and keen supporters of the Jacobite cause. After a brief period in Scotland, the Surgeon Major, his wife and nine children settled in Bedford, where, as a citizen of the town, his seven sons could be educated at Bedford School at little expense. Six of the boys became artists (see lots 67 and 68). Garden changed his name to William Fraser Garden in order to distinguish himself from his brothers.
Garden, who had been given his grandmother's maidenname, settled at the House in the Fields near Hemingford Abbots, Huntingdonshire until 1898. By this time his parents were living at the Old Manor House, Hemingford Grey, a Norman hall. Ethel, whom Garden married in 1889, gained a reputation for expecting rather more from rural Huntingdonshire than could be provided. However, Garden's lack of financial acumen meant that he was never financially stable. So different in temperament, his wife finally left him in 1904, taking their six children with her back to Birmingham.
The majority of his watercolours were of the fen villages near his home by the Ouse, particularly of St Ives (see lot 69) and Holywell, Huntingdonshire. Garden became even more eccentric in his later life, living at the Ferryboat Inn in Holywell and paying his bills with drawings.
Garden's work was exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, and the Dowdeswell Galleries, London. Fraser Garden's watercolours are a demonstration of the late 19th Century revival of painstakingly observed realism.