Gardens in History: A Political Perspective [Paperback]

Louise Wickham(Author)

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ISBN: 9781905119431 | Published by: Windgather Press | Year of Publication: 2012 | Language: English 272p, 138 col illus
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Gardens in History


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.

Table of Contents

Ancient Gardens as Political Expressions of Power. Case Study 1: Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
The Garden in the Islamic Empire’s Expansion. Case Study 2: Taj Mahal, Agra
Renaissance Italian Gardens and Political Ideology. Case Study 3: Villa Pratolino, Florence
Absolutism and Diplomacy in the French formal garden. Case Study 4: Château de Versailles, Paris
The Landscape Garden as a Political Tool for Whig England. Case Study 5: Stowe, Buckinghamshire
The Picturesque Debate as a Political Metaphor. Case Study 6: Hackfall, Yorkshire
Nineteenth Century Public Parks in British Reform Politics. Case Study 7: Birkenhead Park, Merseyside
Botanic Gardens, Politics and Empire. Case Study 8: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, London
Gardens in Japan: Religion, Politics and Culture. Case Study 9: Katsura Rikyu, Kyoto
Twentieth Century Gardens: Socialist Politics and Conservation. Case Study 10: Painshill, Surrey

Reviews & Quotes

""[Wickham's] book provides a useful general account of a neglected aspect of [garden history].""
Gillian Mawrey
Historic Gardens Review (Issue 28, March 2013)

""It is fascinating to discover the multifarious ends to which gardens have been exploited...Although much of the material is familiar, the story is clearly traced and Wickham provides detailed references, ensuring the book will be useful to garden history students as well as general readers.""
Katie Campbell
Garden Design Journal (February 2013)

""This is a fascinating book looking at garden history from an unusual angle...Louise Wickham has written an important book on garden history which everyone interested in it should read.""
John R. Borron
Trafodion – Occasional writings for the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust (November 2012)

""This is a work of particular value to those of us coming to the subject of garden history as a means of developing our understanding of the gardens we work in, work on and visit and how the styles we adopt and admire came to exist in the first place." - see the full review here:
Tristan Gregory ()

""Once you have read chapter nine, your perspective on Japanese gardens are likely to have changed...if your interest in gardens is much wider, much more global, then this volume will provide an excellent introduction to the various garden styles covered and you will find yourself turning to it time and time again.""

Shakkei, The journal of The Japanese Garden Society (vol 19, no 2, Autumn 2012)

"remarkably well illustrated in colour for an academic work such as this, and refreshingly free of the tortured prose that sometimes passes for scholarship."

Australian Garden History (26(2), 2014)

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