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Portrait of George Loddiges



Production date


Object number

CH 1996.106

Physical Description

This portrait by John Renton of George Loddiges (1786 - 1846) shows him as a young man. Loddiges was a German nursery owner who started a business on Mare Street in 1787. By the 1820s the nursery was famous for its tropical orchids, with over 1600 types for sale. To allow them to grow tropical plants in Hackney, the Loddiges built an amazing range of hot houses. The steam heating and sprinkler systems which they developed were later copied for the Palm Houses at Kew Gardens.

By 1852, the Loddiges’ exotic plants were badly affected by pollution from local industries, and the business was forced to close. If you visit Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington today you can still see trees and plants that originally came from the Loddiges Nursery.

From the collection of Alexander Chalmers.

Associated Person

Renton, John (Artist)

Associated Place




width: 74cm
height: 62.5cm

Exhibition Label

Painted by John Renton, a Shoreditch artist, the sitter is horticulturalist George Loddiges (1786-1846), who built in central Hackney what was then the largest tropical hothouse in the world, and who landscaped much of Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington.
His German father had begun a small seed business in the village of Hackney, but it was George that transformed the endeavour, bringing it to international prominence and linking it to the scientific circles of the day. His influence spread to the imperial gardens of St Petersburg in Russia and the Adelaide Botanic Garden in South Australia and he was responsible for introducing numerous exotic species into western cultivation.
With its geographical connections across the modern borough of Hackney, I chose this portrait from the museum’s collection for its association with many of the qualities for which Hackney is known today: a green place that continues to attract new residents from around the world, a place of artists, invention, entrepreneurialism, and the development of creative industries.
 George’s son was forced to close the nursery in the 1850s due to the freeholder, St Thomas’ Hospital, wanting to sell the increasingly valuable land for housing development – a pressure on Hackney’s employment space that is present today as it was then.
Chosen by Jules Pipe

On display?