Wealth as a Basis for Landscape Architecture in Early Modern Times
Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet, Duesseldorf, Germany
Understood landscape architecture as a monumental spatial genre of art , there was a need for huge estates, a house and a garden. This included water resources, landscape rearrangements on a big scale and a variety of plants. In addition, standard garden elements such as buildings, fountains, basins etc. illustrate that gardening as an art genre depends on wealth. In my paper I will discuss two dimensions of this relationship.
The first dimension is characterized by critique on the uselessness of pleasure gardens and on the dissipation of economic resources. A typical case is the criticism by C. Borromeo who visited the Villa Lante in 1580. During the stay he accused Cardin. Gambara of this kind of "conspicuous consumption" and lamented, he should have founded an abbey instead. This kind of condemnation is based mostly on religious convictions of humility especially in the Protestant North of Europe. Here we observe discussions on the luxury character of gardens both in philosophical discussions of and in allegories of vices and virtues.
The second dimension is an attempt to refute such moralizing arguments. The authors of garden treatises actually discussed the relationship between economic potential and gardening as art openly. J. Boyceau claimed in his Treatise that pleasure gardens were inappropriate to lower class members, because only the higher nobility would be able to bear the expenses. Two decades later, J. Evelyn adressed his "Elysium Britannicum" to "Princes, noble-men and great persons". Finally Dezallier suggested in his Treatise that not only the economic basis but also the upper class with the implication of taste and education were the two most important factors in the development of gardening as an art form.
This paper will show the economic discourse of the 17th Century was inexorably linked to the discourse on gardening as an art.