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Francis Bacon, 1st Baron Verulam & Viscount St Albans (1561-1626)

Of gardens : an essay / by Francis Bacon. 1904?

RCIN 1047540

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Written in 1625, Francis Bacon's Of Gardens provides a philosophical idea of the ideal princely garden, one which appears to pre-empt the early landscape gardens of William Kent (bap. 1646 d. 1748). In his treatise, Bacon remarks upon the ideal arrangement of a garden, remarking specifically upon his perception that garden knots and topiary were uneccessary.

In 1904, Queen Alexandra, consort of Edward VII, was presented this beautifully illuminated manuscript by the diplomat Sir Reginald Lister (1865-1912). The manuscript was created by Alberto Sangorski (1862-1932) as one of the early commissions for the binders Sangorski and Sutcliffe. Inside its simple vellum binding (later versions of this essay were often bound with elaborate jewelled covers) is a faithful calligraphic transcription of Bacon's treatise. The calligraphy is bordered with gold and ornamental floral and foliate designs with three miniatures of gardens in summer. It is likely that these miniatures depict the garden at Sandringham House. This is due to the fact that Sangorski customised the vignettes to the recipient, as witnessed in other copies of this work, of which there are only ten known surviving copies.

The title page of the volume also contains Queen Alexandra’s entwined AA monogram, surrounded by roses. The Queen clearly delighted in these flowers, since they also appear on the bookplate that she designed, which depicts her favourite things.

Entry adapted from 'Painting Paradise' London 2015.