Paint­ing Par­adise: The art of the gar­den

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ART ROUNDUP -

The Queen’s Gallery, Buck­ing­ham Palace, Lon­don Un­til 11 Oc­to­ber 2015

Whether a sa­cred sanc­tu­ary, a place for sci­en­tific study, a haven for the soli­tary thinker or a space for pure en­joy­ment and de­light, gar­dens are where mankind and na­ture meet. A new ex­hi­bi­tion at The Queen’s Gallery, Buck­ing­ham Palace ex­plores the many ways in which the gar­den has been cel­e­brated in art through over 150 paint­ings, draw­ings, books, manuscript­s and dec­o­ra­tive arts from the Royal Col­lec­tion, in­clud­ing some of the ear­li­est and rarest sur­viv­ing records of gar­dens and plants.

From spec­tac­u­lar paint­ings of epic royal land­scapes to jewel-like manuscript­s and del­i­cate botan­i­cal stud­ies, Paint­ing Par­adise: The Art of the Gar­den re­veals the chang­ing char­ac­ter of the gar­den and its en­dur­ing ap­peal for artists from the 16th to the early 20th cen­tury, in­clud­ing Leonardo da Vinci, Rem­brandt van Rijn and Carl Fabergé.

The idea of an earthly par­adise – an en­closed space with or­chards, flow­ing wa­ter, shade and shel­ter – can be traced back to Per­sia in the 6th cen­tury BCE. The painted minia­ture Seven Cou­ples in a Gar­den, c.1510, from the ear­li­est il­lus­trated Is­lamic man­u­script in the Royal Col­lec­tion, shows a beau­ti­ful Per­sian gar­den with an oc­tag­o­nal pool, plane and cy­press trees, and elab­o­rately tiled pavil­ions laid with flo­ral car­pets.

Un­til the 16th cen­tury, gar­dens in paint­ings and manuscript­s re­mained largely those of the imag­i­na­tion. Henry VIII’s Great Gar­den at White­hall Palace, seen in the back­ground of the paint­ing The Fam­ily of Henry VIII, c.1545, is the first real gar­den recorded in Bri­tish art. By the Re­nais­sance, gar­dens had be­come sta­tus sym­bols to be em­ployed in royal pro­pa­ganda. The wealth of a gar­den’s owner could be demon­strated through elab­o­rate hor­ti­cul­tural fea­tures such as obelisks, per­go­las, knot de­signs and topiary. Although in the paint­ing Plea­sure Gar­den with a Maze by Lodewijk Toeput (Poz­zoser­rato), c.1579–84, the wa­ter labyrinth is the artist’s in­ven­tion, it is inspired by con­tem­po­rary de­scrip­tions of 16th-cen­tury Ital­ian for­mal gar­dens.

Lodewijk Toeput (Poz­zoser­rato), Plea­sure Gar­den with a Maze, c. 1579-84

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