The Artist and the Garden

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This extraordinarily beautiful book gathers together and examines for the first time a delightful collection of English gardens rendered by artists from 1540 to the early nineteenth century, many of which are unknown. Sir Roy Strong, widely recognized for his expertise in both art history and garden history, surveys garden pictures ranging from Elizabethan miniatures to eighteenth-century alfresco conversation pieces, from suites of paintings of a single garden to amateur watercolors. He inquires into the origin of the English garden picture genre, its development prior to the invention of photography, its greatest exponents, its reliability as historical evidence of actual gardens, and its place within the larger European tradition of picturing the garden.

The English, Strong observes, were slow in picturing the reality of their gardens. Until well into the Stuart age, the garden in art served as a symbol, and only gradually did this give way to the impulse to record the facts of contemporary garden-making. In the backgrounds of portraits of Jacobean and Caroline garden owners, the garden is no longer an emblem; it becomes instead a document demonstrating the owners’ pride in their gardens made in the new Renaissance manner. By the Georgian age the garden has moved from the back to the foreground of pictures, and whole families place themselves amid the glory of their self-fashioned landscapes. Both house and garden at this point assume a separate identity, each calling for an individual record. And by the nineteenth century, the author shows, the garden detaches itself from owner and house to be recorded for its own sake, as a single image at first, and later in a series. With some 350 fully annotated illustrations, this lovely book offers a unique record of three hundred years of English gardens and what they meant to those who owned and portrayed them.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Strong brings his sure touch as an expert in art history and his passion for garden design to this wonderful survey of over 300 years of artistic representation of England's gardens. The early 16th century saw the garden as status symbol; denoting "pride of possession," it was frequently represented in portraits as a view through a window or archway. There followed a period in which the garden was the setting for portraits in which sitters, singly or in groups, were represented in a sylvan but symbolic landscape. The late 17th century saw a new concept, with the garden standing alone, no longer a part of human portraiture; artworks ably documented the development of gardens associated with the great country houses and the newly created town gardens. Finally, the impact of "Capability" Brown and his followers in the mid-18th century inspired the major school of English landscape painters, with landscapes and parks replacing gardens as the important theme. This is a work of outstanding scholarship and, clearly, a labor of love--an unbeatable combination. Highly recommended.--Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Mary Keen
Wonderful...this is a work of great scholarship as well as being one of the most desirable books to come my way for ages.
The Spectator
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Roy Strong is former director of the National Portrait Gallery in London and of the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is now a full-time writer, broadcaster, consultant, and gardener. Among those he has assisted in his capacity as a garden consultant are the Prince of Wales, Gianni Versace, and Elton John.

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Table of Contents

Preface 9
Introduction 11
I Pride of Possession: Gardens in Portraits 17
II A Paradise of Dainty Devices: The Emblematic Garden 85
III Portrait of a Place: The Garden Picture 123
IV Every Prospect Pleases: The Garden Panorama 183
V Garden Picture into Landscape Painting: The Triumph of the Park 251
Notes 274
Index 283
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2000

    A missed opportunity for excellence

    Half of me loves this book, half of me hates it. I am not a great fan of Roy Strong - I find him too dryly academic and very pompous and this tends to spill over into his writing. I had looked forward to the publication of this book seeing as it deals with my own particular area of expertise - that of the role of the garden in works of fine art. It is nice to see the subject finally being accorded some attention. But I was somewhat disappointed that Sir Roy has missed a golden opportunity. There are many, many famous and beautiful paintings in which gardens feature prominently. But this book deals in the majority with tiny fragments of gardens glimpsed behind portraits of rather obscure people. And the timescale of the book is limiting - from 16th to 18th century - and to gardens in England only. There is a very good book by Anthony Huxley called 'The Painted Garden' which looks at gardens across the world and throughout time, and I was expecting Sir Roy's book to be an expanded and more in depth version of this. But, as with all his books, it is couched in a pedantic and overly academic style which doesnt make for easy reading. I love the book because it deals with a very neglected area of garden history, but hate it with just as much passion because of the self congratulatory way it is written and for the missed opportunities it represents.

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