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Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design
May 21 through August 29, 2010

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Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700–1777).
The Cascade at the Villa Aldobrandini, Frascati
Pen and brown and black ink, brown wash, black and red chalk, heightened with white, on light brown paper, 1762
Purchased as the gift of the Fellows; 1965.18

As Director of the French Academy in Rome from 1751 to 1775, Charles-Joseph Natoire required his pupils to go outdoors to draw landscapes, despite their preference for the more prestigious subjects of history painting. Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Hubert Robert were among those inspired by his enthusiasm for open-air sketches of ruins and gardens. Natoire gave this drawing to the Marquis de Marigny, Surintendant of Buildings, Arts, Gardens, and Industries of France. It typifies the spontaneity of many of Natoire's drawings, in which varied staffage and ordinary action deformalize the magnificence of an earlier era.


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Samuel Palmer (1805–1881)
The Villa d'Este at Tivoli from the Cypress Avenue
Black chalk and watercolor, heightened with white, on blue-gray paper, 1838
Inscribed in pencil at lower left, Villa d'Este Tivoli - drawn on the spot; at left margin, Termination of the clusters in / shadow were soft and fluffy like / these.
18 x 12 9/16 inches (457 x 319 mm)
Purchased as the gift of the Fellows; 1962.18

In 1838 Samuel Palmer spent several weeks at the "inexhaustible" Villa d'Este, "enchantment itself." Whereas earlier visitors had commented on the statuary and waterworks in these gardens, Palmer was most taken with the trees. "You must wonder at our staying so long in Tivoli, but you would not wonder if you saw it—I have got a finished study of pines and cypresses—the latter 300 years old and wonderfully fine." Palmer returned to England determined to paint "Poetic Landscape . . . [of] deep sentiment and deep tone," a venture highly approved of by John Ruskin, who commended Palmer's work in the third edition of Modern Painters.


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Alexander Pope (1688–1744).
Of Taste: An Epistle to the Earl of Burlington.
Autograph manuscript, 1731
30.2 x 18.6 cm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MA 352

One of four "moral essays" by Pope, this satirical verse epistle castigates the ignorance and vanity of aspiring art patrons who think that they can buy the credentials of connoisseurs. Wealthy fools can squander riches in many different ways, none of which, however, displays bad taste out in the open quite so blatantly as massive landscaping projects that succeed only in satisfying a capricious whim. Pope urged proprietors of country estates to scorn these expensive follies, obey the dictates of reason, and respect the "Genius of the Place," the inherent qualities of the terrain that could be enhanced with some gentle groundwork.


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Humphry Repton (1752–1818)
Hatchlands in Surry a Seat of George Holme Sumner Esqr
Pen and brown ink and watercolor on paper, in Repton's Red Book of Hatchlands. Album, 1800
8 3/4 x 11 1/2 inches (222 x 292 mm)
Collection of Mrs. J. P. Morgan, Jr., Gift of Junius S. Morgan and Henry S. Morgan; 1954.16
Humphry Repton's Red Books online exhibition »

Repton proposed to change Hatchlands from "a large red house by the side of a high road, to a Gentleman-like residence in the midst of a Park." In order to do so, he would have it painted the color of stone (advice that was declined) and would screen functional outbuildings from view with dense plantings. Hatchlands represents Repton's least Romantic side—his practical professional aspect that drew fire from grand advocates of the Picturesque. This is a smaller scale project in which he had to negotiate with the owner to add a lawn and remove a few trees for better light.


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Edward Rooker (ca. 1712–1774) after William Marlow (1740–1813).
A View of the Wilderness, with the Alhambra, the Pagoda, and the Mosque. Etched and engraved plate in William Chambers (1723–1796), Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Perspective Views of the Gardens and Buildings at Kew in Surry, the Seat of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Dowager of Wales. London: Printed by J. Haberkorn . . . for the author, and . . . A. Millar [and nine others], 1763. Gift of Henry S. Morgan, 1962; PML 53027

In 1757 William Chambers, the only architect in England to have directly observed East Asian architecture, began to design new gardens at Kew with artificial ruins and exotic structures. His famous pagoda represents the Chinese style on which he published two treatises. Chambers's discussion of Chinese gardens, some of which he classified as Romantic, promoted the idea of provoking powerful emotional responses through selected effects in landscape design: "the spectator is to be amused . . . his curiosity excited, and his mind agitated by a great variety of opposite passions." His work is the basis for the Continental European concept of the jardin anglo-chinois.


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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778).
Julie, ou La Nouvelle Héloïse
Autograph manuscript, 1759–60. In 2 volumes, 19 cm
The manuscript that Rousseau copied for his printer and the one from which the original edition was printed in 1761
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection, gift of the Heineman Foundation, 1977; MA 6711

Julie, her former lover, and her husband savor the noble sentiments of pure love while relishing the simple pleasures of life on a country estate, the idyllic setting of this best-selling epistolary novel Julie, or the New Heloise. Not for them the brittle chatter, amorous intrigues, and enervating passions of townspeople corrupted by modern society. This letter describes Julie's garden, formerly a scraggly orchard but transformed by her modest efforts into an "artificial wilderness" resplendent with aromatic herbs, wild flowers, hanging vines, and winding paths cleverly designed to seem longer than they really were.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.