Gardens in History

Gardens in History: A Political Perspective

Paperback Published on: 30/06/2012
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Over the past 50 years, the subject of garden history has been firmly established as an academic discipline. While many have explored what was created in gardens throughout history, the reasons as to why they were created has naturally been more diverse. Depending on the background of the author, the ideas have ranged from aesthetic values deriving from art, philosophical thoughts and ideas, social and even economic forces. Occasionally some thought has been given to the influence of political ideology such as the development of the English landscape garden in the first half of the 18th century. Gardens in History: A Political Perspective looks at the creation of gardens elsewhere through a similar political 'lens' in order to move debate away from portraying the motivation behind 'garden-making' merely as painting a picture with plants and buildings. Gardens are looked at in relation to not only how they are influenced by the political ideas of their creators but also how the gardens themselves provide support and legitimacy to those in government, either covertly or directly.

Each chapter explores in depth one particular garden that demonstrates the ideas put forward. Topics covered include ancient gardens as political expressions of power, with the case study of Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, Renaissance Italian gardens and political ideology, demonstrated by Villa Pratolino, Florence and absolutism and diplomacy in the French formal garden using Versailles, Paris. Other overseas gardens examined are Taj Mahal, Agra and Katsura Rikyu, Koyoto. British gardens also reveal much about the effects of politics on their creation; case studies here are Stowe, Buckinghamshire, looking at the landscape garden as a political tool for Whig England; Hackfall, Yorkshire and picturesque debate as a political metaphor; Birkenheard Park, Merseyside and 19th century public parks in British Reform politics; Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the politics of Empire; and moving into the 20th century, Painshill, Surrey and socialist politics and conservation.

  • Publisher: Windgather Press
  • ISBN: 9781905119431
  • Number of pages: 272

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