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Essay on Gardens

Essay on Gardens: A Chapter in the French Picturesque

Edited and Translated by Samuel Danon
Introduction by Joseph Disponzio
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 104
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  • Book Info
    Essay on Gardens
    Book Description:

    Published in 1774, Essay on Gardens is one of the earliest texts showing the progressive shift in French taste from the classical model of the gardens at Versailles to the picturesque or natural style of garden design in the late eighteenth century. In this formulation of his ideas concerning landscape, Claude-Henri Watelet describes an ideal farm and also his own very real garden, Moulin Joli, near Paris. He advances the theory that the useful and the pleasurable must be combined in the planning, preservation, and decoration of the land by offering a relatively novel design that uses experimental methods to create a comfortable estate. The result is a horticultural and ecological laboratory that includes a residence, a farm, stables, a dairy, an apiary, a mill, walks, vistas, flower beds, an area reserved for medicinal plants, decorative statues, a medical laboratory, and even a small infirmary for ailing members of the community. Given the wide scholarly interest in the field of garden design and its history, this first English edition of Watelet's small but influential book will interest historians of landscape design as well as students of the history of architecture. Joseph Disponzio's informative introduction to Samuel Danon's masterful translation situates the Essay on Gardens within the framework of other landscape and garden treatises of the late eighteenth century. Although the original text was not illustrated, this edition includes a selection of charming drawings and etchings of Moulin Joli by Watelet himself, Hubert Robert, and others.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0413-1
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Joseph Disponzio

    Claude-Henri Watelet’s Essai sur les jardins (Essay on Gardens) has long been a staple in the study of the picturesque garden in France. Its brevity belies its impact on the aesthetics of sensibility of the eighteenth century, especially as they directed the conception and development of picturesque gardening in pre-Revolutionary France. Yet, outside the small circle of scholars, it is a work little appreciated and seldom considered.¹ Its obscurity has less to do with its artistic merit than with those who have written the history of the French picturesque, as well as the ambivalence the French have had for an...

  4. Essay on Gardens
    (pp. 17-72)

    Society today shows greater interest than ever before in the intelligent enjoyment of the agreeable arts.¹ This leads them to multiply and divide into an infinity of branches, and to show steady advancement. As a result, the “mechanical”² aspect of these arts has progressed almost as much as it can, driven by wealth, imitation, and industry. We now seem to require, however, that the “liberal” side also contribute to the agreeable arts all the attention they deserve. In other words, we wish not only that both the materials of artistic creations and their uses bring pleasure to the senses, but...

  5. Notes
    (pp. 73-84)
  6. Bibliography
    (pp. 85-88)
  7. Index
    (pp. 89-90)
  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 91-91)
    S. D.