In the area of landscape design, numerous transfer processes occurred in the 18th century that not only affected the landscape garden. These processes occurred primarily between Italy, England, France and Germany, though influences from outside Europe also played a role (the Anglo-Chinese garden).1 This involved – in the literal and figurative sense – "border crossings" in the areas of the history of the humanities and the history of science, and artistic as well as professional-sociological phenomena. The discussion below cannot give a complete picture of the variants and development of the landscape garden. Instead, it picks out a number of aspects and examples of cultural and knowledge transfer in the area of landscape design in the 18th century.
The stylistic term "landscape garden" and the occupational title "landscape gardener" were only introduced and discussed at the end of the 18th century in the writings of the English landscape designer and theoretician Humphry Repton (1752–1818).2 Prior to that, terms such as "natürlicher" (natural), "neuer Gartengeschmack" (new taste in gardens) and "neue Gartenmanier" (new manner of garden)3 had been used to refer to a garden style that, though it drew on international sources, was nonetheless predominantly perceived by contemporaries as a "neue[r] Geschmack der Britten, der die Regelmäßigkeit und Einförmigkeit verbannte und wahre Schönheit der Natur in die Gärten rief",4 as the German garden theoretician Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld (1742–1792) put it in 1782. From about 1700, there was a movement towards more naturalness in the arrangement of gardens, which expressed itself in the French garden as well as in early forms of the landscape garden. It was not until the second third of the century that specific features of the structure and lines, of the vegetation and scale, of the view and of the impact on walkers had developed to the point that they were recognized as distinguishing features for the description of the landscape garden in contrast with the classical French garden.
From the late-16th century onward, landscape design had outgrown its connection with agriculture and horticulture, and during the course of the 17th and 18th centuries it became a sister discipline of architecture, painting and poetry. The diversity of arrangements of gardens, which were now intended to inspire the mind and the emotions, was discussed in the context of the artistic discourse of a European Société des lettres. This debate took place in gardening textbooks, theoretical treatises, as well as in the gardening journals that were published in increasing numbers from the 1790s onward, particularly by German publishers.5 In the 18th century, the fundamental questions of this debate revolved around the perception of nature and its imitation in art. The stylistic battle lines were drawn with the key terms of regularity vs. irregularity, the French vs. the English garden. However, the processes of reception and transfer that resulted from about 1700 onwards in the spread of new, more natural garden forms – of which the landscape garden was the most prominent phenomenon – were more complex. Similar to the understanding of nature in the 18th century, the "naturalness" of landscape design had many facets. It was not automatically linked to a specific style, rather it was a more nuanced mode of garden arrangement, which drew from various sources. From the first decade of the 18th century, the "naturalness" of landscape design was viewed as new and exemplary, and it was developed both in theory and in practice, with France and England taking divergent paths.
Prerequisites: A New Concept of Naturalness around 1700 in English and French Garden Theory
Around 1700, there were noticeable efforts both in English and in French garden design to establish a new naturalness in the design of gardens. These efforts influenced each other and were reflected in the theoretical literature.6 Antoine-Joseph Dezallier d'Argenville's (1680–1765) treatise La théorie et la pratique du jardinage, which was published in Paris in 1709, summarized the design motifs and principles of the classical French garden for the first time and also formulated a new, more natural garden concept. The book was also very popular in England.7 The second, expanded edition (1713) contained a phrase that expressed for the first time a new understanding of nature and made this understanding a model for landscape design: "Faire céder l'Art à la Nature" ("to make art yield to nature").8 In English garden theory of the 17th century – as in France – there had been calls for the imitation of nature in gardens, though this did not automatically lead to irregular garden designs.9 Early concepts of the English landscape garden and the stronger orientation towards nature called for in Dezallier d'Argenville's treatise are phenomena which developed in parallel.
Winding paths or other forms of paths that suggest "naturalness" are not mentioned by Dezallier d'Argenville. In his understanding, naturalness does not manifest itself in the plan or the layout, but rather – as the example of the garden of Marly demonstrates – in the terrain modelling and the vegetation, and in particular in the use of lawns and entwined latticework (Treillage). Both in French and in English garden design of the early-18th century, there was an increasing emphasis on the use of the colour green, which was probably a result of the influence of classical antiquity. The green colour of natural vegetation is often emphasized in the letters of Pliny the Younger (61/62–ca. 114). No theoretical text on gardens from the modern era places such emphasis on broad green spaces that can be, and are intended to be walked on, and the view of which is pleasing to the eye. It is thus no coincidence that both French and English literature and architectural theory were so preoccupied with descriptions of Tuscum and Laurentinum, the two villas of Pliny the Younger, from around 1680 onward.10 The Frenchman Jean-François Félibien des Avaux (1658–1733) (in 1699) and the Englishman Robert Castell (died. 1729) (in 1728) even reconstructed these two ideal gardens by bringing together all the means and possibilities of natural and artificial landscape arrangement of their time.
In his work La géométrie pratique (1702), the French cartographer and fortifications engineer Allain Manesson Mallet (ca. 1630–ca. 1706) described the practical applications of geometry and its subdisciplines of trigonometry, planimetry and stereometry. He illustrated many of his descriptions with views of gardens as a knowledge of mathematics, geometry, optics and perspective had been a prerequisite for the design of gardens from the early-17th century. This work greatly influenced authors of books about gardens in the early-18th century. Thus, for example, Dezallier d'Argenville provided for the first time stereometric representations of gardens (see fig. 1). In his publication Ichnographia Rustica (1718, 2nd edition in 1742), the English gardener and author Stephen Switzer (ca. 1682–1745) also draws on Manesson Mallet's work and like the latter he discusses not only the mapping, measurement and transposition of straight and regular lines, bodies and shapes, but also curved and irregular ones. These are all described as tasks of practical geometry. Switzer and the gardener Batty Langley (1696–1751), the author of New Principles of Gardening (1728), both viewed curved and winding lines as an expression of naturalness, and the straight line as the epitome of unnatural design. Langley designed gardens in which the regular structures of the classical French style were overlaid with irregular lines. However, his attempt – which he referred to as "improvement" – to depart from customary lines and shapes and to make an artificial lack of order a design concept was not considered convincing and was viewed as unnatural. The juxtaposition of regular and winding lines was described by William Hogarth (1697–1764) in his Analysis of Beauty (1753). As a much cited art-theoretical line concept, the "line of beauty", an s-shaped winding line, greatly influenced the layout of the landscape garden.
Transfer between Media and Genres: Landscape Design and Painting
Antiquity as a Model
The comparison with classical antiquity was of fundamental structural importance for how natural landscapes and the composition of garden spaces were viewed. Pliny's descriptions of villas referred to above were among the source texts that were discussed in practically every text on garden and landscape design from the Renaissance, and particularly from the late-17th century onward. They describe a more complex arrangement of views and the visual interrelationship between the interior and the exterior, between architecture, garden and landscape, a surprising, nuanced interplay involving the transformation of three-dimensional natural spaces into two dimensional images – and vice versa, when the visitor to the villa steps out of the building. The concept of a unified, artistic spatial effect and simultaneously of a genre transfer between building and garden was greatly stimulated and expanded by translations of Pliny and commentaries on his work.
In 1709, the English painter William Kent (1685–1748) travelled to Italy, a sojourn which had a great influence on him artistically, and from which he only returned home ten years later.11 His new concept of landscape design, which was influenced by antiquity and modern Italy, and which was based on the artistic work of the painter and theatre decorator, initiated the first phase of the development of the landscape garden. With his statement "All gardening is landscape painting",12 the poet Alexander Pope (1688–1744) formulated a paradigm shift in the design process and thus also in the professional image of the gardener – he should now change from an architect to a painter.13
The development of the landscape garden was accompanied by an interest in, and engagement with 17th-century landscape painting in England. This began in the second decade of the 18th century and ran parallel to an art-theoretical debate, which had been ongoing from the late-17th century, regarding landscape painting and its position in the hierarchy of genres of painting.14 The popularity of the paintings of Claude Lorrain (1600–1682), Nicolas Poussin (ca. 1594–1665), Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675) and of the Italian Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) from the early-18th century in England was a complementary trend. "O great Poussin! O Nature's darling, Claude!" With these lines in his poem The English Garden, published 1772–1781, the poet William Mason (1725–1797) addresses the masters of landscape art, whose compositions were full of delightful "charms", "graces" and "fresh beauties" and were a model for landscape designers.15 Mason subsequently names "Salvator!" (Salvator Rosa), who offers examples of "majestic scenes" and is perceived as a protagonist of the sublime in landscape painting.16 From the early-18th century, works by the painters referred to above were to be found in practically all large collections held by English aristocrats and members of the gentry. The English "Claude fashion" of the 18th century was initially a phenomenon of the early period of tourism and of collection history, as well as of a phase of the "history of taste".17 This appreciation for the idyllic and heroic landscapes of Claude, Poussin, Dughet and Rosa was supported by the transfer of their principles of style and composition into poetry.
Grand Tour and Landscape Design
In England, the development of a new natural garden concept was driven by writers, painters and architects who were familiar with current art-theoretical debates and most of whom had travelled Italy. The Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713) lived in Italy from 1711 onward. Joseph Addison (1672–1719) travelled through France and Italy on a grand tour between 1699 and 1703. The painter William Kent lived in Italy for the period 1709–1719. Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington (1694–1753), travelled to Italy a number of times between 1714 and 1726. Alexander Pope, by contrast, had no first-hand experience of Italy.
Landscape paintings offered an artistic concept and a model for poetic mood, but no template was directly adopted from them. The classical temples, nymphaeums, exedras and grottos in the early English landscape gardens of the 1730s to the 1750s transformed the gardens in the perception of walkers into intellectual and associative free spaces. They were as much references to real or reconstructed buildings in the Roman Campagna as ideal landscape paintings are. The educated visitor and observer understood the artistic, literary, historical and political allusions of the garden scenes, which in his/her eyes were superimposed with works of painting. The variety of classical references in William Kent's gardens has often been discussed.18 The grouping of groves is indicative of his experience as a theatre decorator. Kent, who had not only seen paintings by Claude Lorrain in the original but also the latter's collection of drawings of his own compositions, the so-called "Liber veritatis", described his pictorially designed gardens as "picturesque".19
If one looks at depictions of early landscape gardens as found in the second series of the Vitruvius Britannicus published from 1739 onward, then a mode of representation stands out that was not adopted from painting, but from early-modern urban planning. Arranged around the plan of the garden are small pictures that draw attention to the individual garden structures. The depiction of the garden of Chiswick – Lord Burlington enlisted the help of Kent in designing it from 1729 onward20 – is divided up in this way into a plan in which the path axes dominate and the Fabriques (small garden structures) are deliberately depicted individually at the end of the axes. This does not communicate the space continuum of an ideal landscape painting, but instead shows the individual structures pictorially.
Stowe and Stourhead
The garden of Stowe House in Buckinghamshire is perhaps the most famous early English landscape garden. In 1744, Benton Seeley (1716–1795) devoted the first garden guidebook ever published to it, undoubtedly due to the great interest that British and foreign artists and aristocratic visitors had shown in it.21 The garden was created in a number of phases from the second decade of the 18th century. The architect Sir John Vanbrugh (1664–1726) – who built the first monopteros (round temple) in the garden, the so-called "Rotunda" – and the landscape designer Charles Bridgeman (1690–1738) were followed after 1738 by Kent and the architect James Gibbs (1682–1754). Lancelot Brown (1716–1783) expanded the complex up to 1751.22 Kent's "Elysian Fields" and Brown's "Grecian Valley" are a classical grove and a Greek valley replete with allusions and juxtapositions of antiquity and the modern period, of past virtue and the modern political example, as expressed in many of the names of the temples. The numerous temples and structures that were erected in the garden of Stowe appear to reference the family name of the owner, Richard Temple (1669–1749), and the family motto "Templa quam dilecta" ("How beautiful the temples are"). The connecting views between the staffage structures (which were mainly built at the edge of the garden) and the country house itself across the broad grass and water surfaces of the complex structure the garden landscape. At the invitation of the gardener Charles Bridgeman, the French copperplate engraver Jacques Rigaud (1681–1754) made a series of engravings of the landscape garden of Chiswick, which were commissioned by Lord Burlington, and of Stowe, which were commissioned by Lord Cobham, at the end of the 1730s.23 Rigaud conveyed the three-dimensional garden spaces in unusually large copperplate engravings that are pictorial in character, and which he brought to life with many staffage figures. The staffage of the print-graphical vedutas of Rigaud has the effect that the landscape garden in its medial transformation from a three-dimensional space to a two-dimensional image becomes closer to a landscape painting, which is invariably also populated with figures.
The garden of Stourhead is another example of medial transfer from painting to a garden.24 Henry Hoare (jun.) (1705–1785), the owner of the garden, spent the period 1738–1741 on a grand tour in Italy. In 1743, he began arranging the garden complex, which was created away from the country house as a separate spatial creation around a specially-dammed lake. He described the view from the Pantheon onto the Palladian bridge and the church as a landscape painting. Stourhead is a lush-green southern English landscape that – in the eyes and emotions of the artistically cultivated observer and walker – has been transformed into the Roman Campagna. William Mason's didactic poem The English Garden already referred to above discusses in detail the medial transfer from painting to landscape design. His formulation "scenes like these, on Memory's tablet drawn, bring back to Britain"25 describes the creation of a garden as an art of memory and visualisation. As the painter replaced the architect as the creative role model for the landscape designer as a visual artist, the qualifications of the painter were supplemented with those of the "landscapist", a term that from the late-18th century included the landscape designer, the painter and the poet. Horace Walpole (1717–1797), for example, wrote the following in 1773: "Poetry, Painting and Gardening, or the science of Landscape, will forever by men of Taste be deemed Three Sisters, or the 'Three New Graces' who dress and adorn Nature."26
In the influence of painting on landscape design, there are national differences which can also be explained in terms of differences in the history of collecting. The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitzer, which was created from the 1760s onward on the commission of Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau (1740–1817), drew on English examples, but not necessarily ideal landscape painting. With architectural elements, terrain modelling and garden spaces, the architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736–1800) employed by the prince formed a European topography of memory, which combines reminiscences of England, Italy and France, as well as of antiquity. In his didactic poem Les jardins, ou l'art d'embellir les paysages published in 1782, Jacques Delille (1738–1813) showed that painting was replacing architecture as the artistic model and guiding genre of landscape design. The Kiel philosophy professor Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld, who wrote Theorie der Gartenkunst (published 1779–1785), also wrote in detail on the topic of gardens and painting, but on this topic he too follows the influential treatise Observations on Modern Gardening (1770) by Thomas Whately (1726-1772). Hirschfeld apparently never got to see any paintings by Claude, Poussin or Dughet.
There is universal agreement in English, French and German garden literature of the 1770s on the close connection between landscape design and painting. However, landscape design exceeds painting in terms of its expansiveness and particularly in its materials, because it is itself living, moving and changing nature. Landscape design mimics an ideal, beautiful nature, and at the same time it is nature.
The International Theoretical Garden Debate: 1770–1800
In 1712, Joseph Addison identified naturalness and rich diversity as the design principles of a garden, which should be "a Picture of the greatest variety". His emphasis on the "beautiful Wildness of Nature" instead of the "Elegancies of Art" is the opposite of French garden design.27 In addition to the formal aspects, the discussion of the classical French garden by English authors in the early-18th century also had political and social-critical aspects – a bourgeois critique of court that was directed against the aristocracy – while also being an expression of anti-French resentment in British politics.28 The French garden was interpreted as symbolizing courtly exploitation and repression, while the English landscape garden was equated with a liberal political system. This interpretation with its social-critical polemic sowed the seed for Europe-wide discussions about landscape design that occurred during the course of the 18th century.29
The transfer of military action into peaceful design and also the paradox of the mutually referential relationship between the fortress and the garden are demonstrated by practically all of the war heroes of the War of the Spanish Succession and their building plans after the end of the war.30 Of course, by no means all of the English commanders who had been victorious against the French commissioned landscape gardens – to demonstrate the victory of English art too, as it were. John Churchill (1650–1722), 1st Duke of Marlborough the victorious commander at the Second Battle of Höchstädt (1704), commissioned Charles Bridgeman to create a regular garden around Blenheim Castle. The garden was only subsequently redesigned and enlarged by Lancelot Brown. And the garden of Stowe, which was commissioned by Richard Temple who had also been victorious against the French, was also initially heavily influenced by the classical French model.
It was only later in the 18th century and from the Seven Years' War at the latest that the English and French garden styles were regularly held up as nationalist and political metaphors.31 From 1770 onward, a host of authors contributed to a controversial international debate, which was initially heavily academic, in a long series of treatises on gardening which appeared in the relevant almanacs and gazettes. The majority of these authors were not gardeners themselves, but poets, philosophers, architects, people commissioning gardens and amateur enthusiasts: the Englishmen Thomas Whately, William Chambers (1726–1796), William Mason, Horace Walpole and Richard Payne Knight (1750–1824), the Frenchmen Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), Claude-Henri Watelet (1718–1786), Antoine-Nicolas Duchesne (1747–1827), Jacques Delille, René-Louis de Girardin (1735–1808), and in particular the ubiquitous German Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld. The five-volume Theorie der Gartenkunst was published by the philosophy professor Hirschfeld between 1779 and 1785, but it was not until 1818 that the first German-language manual on the landscape garden was published in the form of the Beiträge zur bildenden Gartenkunst by the director of the Bavarian court gardens Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (1750–1823). Many of the books mentioned were translated into other languages.
The Anglo-Chinese Garden
The controversy regarding the writings of the architect William Chambers and the so-called Anglo-Chinese garden is informative from the perspective of intercultural transfer. The Anglo-Chinese garden is a stylistic variant among early landscape gardens that was fed by English and French concepts and interpretations of Chinese gardens. For a short period from the early-1770s to the end of the 1780s, it was popular throughout Europe, but particularly in France. Thereafter, it fell out of favour and the classical landscape garden as described by Brown and Repton became dominant. This early stylistic variant, which was primarily known by the French term Jardin anglo-chinois, elevated an eclecticism and stylistic pluralism derived from the stylistic principles of the rococo to a guiding principle. From the perspective of forms, this involved an intricate and varied sequence of small garden spaces, a mixture of geometrical and irregular elements, figurative and decorative shapes in the layout of paths and in the parterre outlines, the contrasting combination of artificial garden structures and their naturally designed surroundings, as well as effects aimed at surprising the senses.
Through his work on Chinese architecture, art and gardens, Chambers made important contributions to the discussion about the origin and forms of the landscape garden.32 In 1757, he published his Designs of Chinese buildings ... To which is annexed a description of their Temples, Houses, Gardens &c, which contained numerous illustrations and which appeared in French translation in the same year.33 Chambers' other contribution to the discussion on Chinese landscape design, Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, was published in English in 1772 together with his An Explanatory Discourse by Tan Chet-Qua .... It was published in French in 1773. In the Dissertation, Chambers explained that the irregular garden style was invented in China in his view. The European landscape designer – he further argued – should follow the example of the Chinese garden concept and the Chinese professional image of the gardener – landscape design as the work of the botanist, painter and philosopher:
Their Gardeners are not only Botanists, but also Painters and Philosophers .... It is not in China, as in Italy and France, where every petty Architect is a Gardener; neither is it as in another famous country, where peasants emerge from the melon grounds to commence professors; ... In China, Gardening is a distinct profession, requiring an extensive study ...34
Chambers repeatedly weaved into his texts fundamental criticisms of the supposedly artless landscape beautification of Lancelot "Capability" Brown, who achieved great fame as a landscape designer. This was an obvious attempt by an architect to defend the status of his profession and its claim to primacy in the area of landscape design – which he described as a "collateral branch of the architect's employment"35 – against the encroachment of the very famous "Capability" Brown, who had trained as a gardener, but who as an autodidact also worked as a master builder.
Following the Chinese model, in his Dissertation Chambers presented a garden concept that was based on variety and contrast, and in doing so he laid the theoretical foundations for the short-lived but nonetheless influential phase of the Anglo-Chinese garden. Appearing also in translation, Chambers' works had a far-reaching international impact that among English books on gardens was only emulated by the works of Thomas Whately. The concept and the principles of the Anglo-Chinese garden thus immediately entered the Europe-wide discussion on gardens.
The theory that the landscape garden was primarily derived from Chinese landscape art was already strongly attacked by contemporaries, for example Walpole, Mason and Hirschfeld.36 In 1785, Hirschfeld offered a polemical description of the design principles of the Jardin anglo-chinois à la française, thereby clearly demonstrating his rejection of it:
Alles, was ein großer Park enthalten kann, soll in den engen Raum von einem Morgen Landes zusammengedrängt werden. Alles, was Asien an verschiedenen Bauarten zeigt, soll auf einem Fleck von einigen hundert Schritten nachgeahmt werden. Chinesische Misgeburten und Kiosken, die zu den Ungeheuern der neuen schwelgerischen Baukunst gehören, verdrängen die reine Einfalt der griechischen Architectur. Die Kunst der Gruppirung der Bäume auf grünen Flächen scheint noch wenig bekannt; sie stehen meist einsam, getrennt, ohne Verbindung und Beziehung, wie die Figuren auf manchen bis auf uns erhaltenen Gemälden des Alterthums. Die Bosquets sind meistens in einer gezirkelten und tändelnden Manier; oft genug noch symmetrisch angelegt, ohne die edle Freyheit der Natur, wodurch sie ihren Reiz gewinnen müssen. ... Mit Kunstwerken aller Art, besonders vermischten Gebäuden, Ruinen, Brücken, werden nicht selten die neuen Gärten überladen, und man scheint ganz den Werth des Einfachen und Natürlichen zu verkennen.37
The stylistically heterogeneous Fabriques in the Anglo-Chinese garden, which evoked "all times and all places" – "tous les temps et tous les lieux"38 – were viewed as a fashionable backdrop by the owners who commissioned the jardins anglo-chinois. However, the stylistic pluralism and eclecticism of the gardens and their small architectural features was informed by an intense cosmopolitan interest on the part of an international public that was influenced by the age of the Grande Encyclopédie and by increasing travel. Enthusiasm for imaginative variation and the concept of experiential worlds that are removed from current reality and can be perceived with the senses – as expressed in the Anglo-Chinese garden – were also characteristic of the last decades of the Ancien Régime in particular.
Kinaesthetic Transfer within Space and Time
In the garden debate of the 18th century as well as in artistic depictions of gardens in theatre, literature and painting, the garden increasingly became a place that was supposed to induce different moods and individual emotional reactions. Gardens were supposed to arouse feelings, elicit emotions, keep memories alive – all of the senses of the visitor should be stimulated, not just the eyes. The complexity of the sensual experience of the garden is complemented by the possibilities for crossing boundaries in space and time. Many landscape gardens of the 18th century combined in one place historicizing staffage structures from all countries and time periods, an encyclopaedic concept that offered walkers a journey through time in their individualized perception.
This transfer in time and space is paradigmatic of a conceptual and structural crossing of boundaries that occurred during the course of the 18th century, which was described as follows by Horace Walpole in his The History of the Modern Taste in Gardening (1780) in the form of a commentary on William Kent's improvement of landscape design: "He leaped the fence and saw that all nature was a garden."39 The transfer can also be understood as a manifestation of a change in media. The exemplary nature of landscape painting for the landscape garden had its intrinsic narrowly-defined, concrete limit – the frame. A work of landscape art, by contrast, goes beyond the "frame" and takes in the whole landscape: "... the supreme art of the designer consists in disposing his ground and objects into an entire landscape."40 The work of Lancelot Brown is the best example of the new concept of landscape improvement that reached far beyond the boundaries of the garden and the park, and which from the second half of the century also became popular on the continent and was imitated there.
During the course of the 18th century, reflections on the form and status of works of landscape design and the boundaries between them and other artistic disciplines became increasingly complex. A growing number of people expressed opinions not only on the spatiality, but also on the temporality of the landscape artwork. Hirschfeld, Repton, Sckell and subsequently Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) emphasized boundary-crossing imagination as the essential characteristic of the landscape designer and "landscape gardener", who even surpasses the architect in this regard.41 The landscape designer must be able to calculate how the appearance of the garden will change as the walker progresses through the landscape, as well as over the course of the day and the year; he must plan ahead in years and decades, and he must master kinaesthetic transfer within space and time.