The Picturesque Garden in Europe

The Picturesque Garden in Europe

Book - 2002
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The "picturesque" or "natural" garden was the rage in eighteenth-century Europe. Inspired by painting, it also reflected changing attitudes to nature. Largely created and crafted in England, it was exported to other countries, which strove to adapt its forms to local conditions. This is the first book about that famous episode in garden history to look at the larger, European map of landscape design.

The book traces the rise of the picturesque garden in England, exploring intricate dialogues between practical place-making and the theoretical formulations of the picturesque that began with Alexander Pope and Joseph Addison and ended with the writings of William Gilpin, Uvedale Price, and Richard Payne Knight in the 1790s. It surveys a wide range of sites -- Rousham, Stourhead, Kew, Hestercombe, The Leasowes, and Hafod, among others -- and the contributions to their creation by both amateurs and professionals.

Europeans visited and wrote about many of these famous English landscapes. But the impact on European countries of the English example was complicated by the parallel rise of a picturesque garden in France, which had its own cultural direction even while it looked to England and China for inspiration. The French produced a crop of theoretical essays on the new "modern" garden as well as a set of astonishing designs -- Mereville, Desert de Retz, Monceau, Moulin-Joli, Ermenonville -- that were wholly and distinctly French, despite some superficial similarities with English creations.

Finally, the book surveys the impact of English and French design upon other countries, in particular Sweden, the German-speaking lands, and Russia. The range of effect that could be created onEuropean sites is considerable and belies the notion that the picturesque was simply a process of making 3-D pictures in the landscape.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Thames & Hudson, 2002
ISBN: 9780500510858
Characteristics: 208 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 26 cm


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