Lionel’s earliest experiments appear to date from 1908 and by 1909 he was bringing back from his tour of Spain colour plates of Granada and other points en route. At home he began to take pictures in the gardens of Ascott in Buckinghamshire, the family home designed for Lionel’s father in the 1880s. In all he made some 250 colour plates of English houses and gardens, by far the largest group of them at Ascott. Other images were taken at Gunnersbury Park in west London, and the French estate of his cousin Edmond at Boulogne-sur-Seine, outside Paris.
Some of the most arresting images among Lionel’s work, almost a hundred in number, are portraits of family and friends, again mostly taken in the setting of family gardens. It is here, perhaps, as we stare back into the eyes of Edwardian high society, that we most clearly experience the shock and surprise of seeing in colour a world before the First World War which we have grown used to thinking of in monochrome.