To Live in the New World: A. J. Downing and American Landscape Gardening

Overview

A. J. Downing (1815-1852) wrote the first American treatise on landscape gardening.

As editor of the Horticulturist and the country's leading practitioner and author, he promoted a national style of landscape gardening that broke away from European precedents and standards. Like other writers and artists, Downing responded to the intensifying demand in the nineteenth century for a recognizably American cultural expression.To Live in the New World examines in detailDowning's ...

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Overview

A. J. Downing (1815-1852) wrote the first American treatise on landscape gardening.

As editor of the Horticulturist and the country's leading practitioner and author, he promoted a national style of landscape gardening that broke away from European precedents and standards. Like other writers and artists, Downing responded to the intensifying demand in the nineteenth century for a recognizably American cultural expression.To Live in the New World examines in detailDowning's growing conviction that landscape gardening must be adapted to the American people and the nation's indigenous landscapes. Despite significant changes in its three editions, Downing's ATreatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, remained true to the original intent: to guide country gentlemen—with enough money, time, and taste—in the creation of ideal homes and pleasure grounds. While most historians and critics have focused on Downing's more formally written treatise, Judith Major gives equal emphasis to Downing's spirited monthly editorials in theHorticulturist. In the journal, Downing "spoke American" and encouraged his countrymen and women to practice economy, to use America's rich natural resources wisely yet artfully, to be content with a little cottage and a few fine native trees.Although the book is not a biography, the people, events,and experiences that shaped Downing's thinking on landscape gardening are central to the story.

Significantly, Downing spent his life in the spectacular natural setting of the Hudson River valley.

Through his professional practice, travels, reading, and extensive correspondence, he gradually became aware of the individual and collective needs that he served. Landscape gardening, Downing came to feel, had to respect not only a client's desires and means, but also the nation's republican values of moderation, simplicity, and civic responsibility. Major takes a fresh look at the influence on Downing's theory and practice of British writers such as Archibald Alison, UvedalePrice, Humphry Repton, John Claudius Loudon, and John Ruskin, and analyzes for the first time his debt to the French academician A. C. Quatremère de Quincy's Essay on Imitation.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"To Live in the New World, an illuminating study of the evolution ofAndrew JacksonDowning's landscape gardening theories, shows us a Downingwho was an original thinker, not merely a popularizer. In the process,Judith Major reveals Andrew Jackson Downing was an advocate ofAmericancultural landscape whose significance reached far beyond the world ofdesign." Dell Upton,Professor of Architectural History, University ofCalifornia, Berkeley
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262133319
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/4/1997
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

George Symeonidis is a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of Essex and a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London.

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