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After Leonard Knyff (1650-1722)

Nouveau theatre de la Grande Bretagne : ou description exacte des palais de la reine et des maisons les plus considerables des seigneurs et des gentilshommes de la Grande Bretagne ... 1708

RCIN 1070432

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Born in Haarlem, Leonard Knyff (1650-1722) settled in London around 1681. Knyff is notable for his bird's-eye paintings and drawings of formal gardens, introduced into Britain following the accession of William III and Mary II in 1689. This Dutch style of gardening borrowed elements from French formal gardening and focused on the manipulation of the landscape to lay out enormous gardens with boulevards, parterres and fountains. After the death of William III in 1702, Knyff was commissioned to paint a view of the formal gardens at Hampton Court Palace. This spectacular birds-eye view clearly shows the extent of the gardens, formalised in the Dutch style, at Hampton Court following the renovations undertaken by William III.

In 1707, Knyff published a series of 80 engravings of the formal gardens of various palaces and country houses. This work, Britannia Illustrata, played upon the pride many landowners felt in their new gardens and clearly shows the swift adoption of formal styles following the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688. In order to produce this book, Knyff made numerous drawings of the gardens at the residences of those who had subscribed. These drawings were then engraved by Johannes Kip (1652/3-1722) to form large, intricately detailed, folio plates. The Britannia Illustrata was reprinted in 1708 with additional engravings under the title Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne, of which this book is a copy. The image shown depicts the gardens of Chatsworth House, the residence of the Dukes of Devonshire.

Entry adapted from 'Painting Paradise' London 2015.