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The Landscape Garden

With one lost Paradise the name
Of our first ancestor is stained;
Brown shall enjoy unsullied fame
For many a paradise regained

Horace Walpole (1717 – 97) to William Mason (1724 – 97), 10 February 1783

A couple in a wooded scene

Henry, Duke of Cumberland with the Duchess of Cumberland and Lady Elizabeth Luttrell c.1785 – 8, by Thomas Gainsborough ©

The landscape garden was England’s greatest cultural export of the eighteenth century. Topiary, symmetry and parterres fell out of fashion, and as nature came to be seen as the ideal, the garden developed into a sequence of unfolding views, meaning that it was less effectively visualised from above. The aerial view gave way to sequences of oil paintings or engravings providing views of the garden at ground level. Images of this new form of garden were crucial to how the rest of Europe perceived England and to the strong sense of identity that came with the development of this new national style. As a consequence, printed images of the garden proliferated to meet both national and international demand, fed by the new phenomenon of garden tourism.

By the mid-eighteenth century, the garden had become a means to express some of the main preoccupations of Enlightenment thought. It was also, more than ever before, a social stage on which to see and be seen. Polite society now gathered in the garden, as the public pleasure garden and the Mall developed as spaces for exercise, festivities and spectacle. Meanwhile, as the public and private functions of the garden diverged, the garden retreat served both as a haven for contemplation and reverie and also as the leisure garden setting for the fête champêtre.

Gobelins Tapestry Factory

Les Portières des Dieux: Venus

Attributed to Robert Campbell (active 1754-93)

A Pair of Armchairs

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Pater (1695-1736)

Fête Champêtre

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Pater (1695-1736)

Fête Champêtre with a Flute Player

Vincennes porcelain factory (1738-56)

The Sunflower clock

William Hogarth (1697-1764)

The Family of George II

Johan Jacob Schalch (1723-89)

The Gardens at Kew

Attributed to British School, 18th century

St James's Park and the Mall