Capability Brown and the Eighteenth-century English Landscape - Roger TurnerLondon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Price Clipped. A little rubbing to the edges of the dust wrapper. Text complete, clean and tight.
Contains: Black & white photographs; Facsimiles; Colour photographs; Colour plates; Black & white plates; Gazetteer;
From the cover: “Throughout England, and particularly on the estates of great country houses such as Stowe, Petworth and Blenheim, are large areas of parkland which embody the ideal of the natural English landscape: pastoral scenes of lakes and streams bordered by softly undulating meadows, with clumps of broad-leaved trees casting their shade on smooth expanses of close-cropped grass. It requires a leap of the imagination to realize that such apparently artless scenes are by no means a happy accident of nature, but are the result of one man’s meticulous planning. Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown created scores of parks for the English gentry and nobility in the late eighteenth century, and his talent for envisaging the ‘great capabilities’ of a piece of land, combined with the age’s passion for the ‘simple charms that genuine Art supplies’ (in the words of his epitaph), brought about a revolution in English garden design. Old fashioned knot gardens and formal parterres, gravel walks and topiary were swept away, and acres of waste land were remodelled with the blithe confidence of a landscape painter. Stiff, formal elements were softened, straight lines eliminated and every trace of geometry banished, to be replaced with meandering walks and streams, serpentine lakes and vistas of gently rolling hills and vales.
After an introduction to eighteenth-century England and gardens before 1750, Roger Turner gives a carefully researched account of Lancelot Brown’s humble origins and rising fortunes, his marriage and his family, the course of his career and the recognition it brought him, culminating in his appointment as Master Gardener to George HI. The creation of a ‘natural’ landscape involved considerable grooming and disciplining of nature: thousands of men were employed to excavate lakes, dam rivers and transplant not only mature trees but also the hills they stood on. Details of the practical and technical aspects of the work, its key characteristics and the plants and trees used, form a background to individual portraits in words and pictures of the finished — and apparently effortlessly beautiful — landscapes. Fifteen of Brown’s major works are described in full and illustrated with original plans, eighteenth-century pictures and modern photographs, showing the gardens’ development over the centuries to maturity. Having discussed Brown’s other works and appraised his astonishingly far-reaching influence, which transformed the English landscape and people’s perception of it, the author provides, finally, a gazetteer of Brown’s works. The information he provides for potential visitors includes, as far as possible, an appraisal of the present condition of each park, drawing attention to the dangers that road construction, agriculture, inappropriate planting and neglect present to these fine landscapes.”