One of the greatest surprises of Lavery's Morocco is the sumptuous colour of its well-irrigated gardens. Not only did he paint the gardens of friends like Walter Harris, the controversial Times correspondent in Tangier, but he also sketched in royal palace and hotel gardens on his various travels into the interior. His most frequent subject of this type was the garden of his own villa, Dar-el-Midfah, with its tumbling cascades of bougainvillea. Tea-parties in such shady places enabled the re-creation of English civility in the colonial context.
This vivid sketch conveys some of the spontaneous pleasure Lavery took in such scenes. The subtle tonalities of the studio are immediately sacrificed for the riotous hues of blossoming trees in the afternoon sun. Felicities of handling are sacrificed to the immediacy of the impression. The present work is a preparatory sketch for Lavery's large A Garden in Morocco, circa 1910 (Queen's University, Belfast). The Belfast picture, more muted in colour, follows its basic compositional layout, adding foreground plants and two Arab gardeners conversing in the middle distance.