Thursday, 14 August 2014

Another theory about the birth of Landscape Garden. Ippolito Pindemonte

Ippolito Pindemonte giardini
There are many theories about the birth of landscape garden, and today I will take a deeper look at the one proposed by Ippolito Pinedmonte, an Italian poet born in Verona in 1753, that originated from a meeting of the Science Academy in Padova in 1792.
In the first part of his dissertation, the poet offers a description of what can be considered a landscape garden. He lists every element we would find in these kinds of places, such as hills, lakes, trees, of course, and ruins etc.
The second part of the text is dedicated to his personal theory about the origin of this kind of style. Looking at the past, the author doesn't seem to see any evidence of irregular gardens in the antique examples, so he begins to search for a description of irregular gardens in literature.
Often, he says, we think that the fist description of this kind of garden is the one Milton constructs in his Paradise Lost. Pindemonte doesn't agree on its origin. He says that we can find something very similar to a landscape garden in the work of an Italian poet, Torquato Tasso. A century before Milton's poem, the Garden of Armida is described in the Gerusalemme Liberata as a place in which hills, lakes, wild trees and flowers, live together with caves and valleys. This is, for Pindemonte, the exact definition of a landscape garden:

Poi che lasciàr gli aviluppati calli,
in lieto aspetto il bel giardin s’aperse:
acque stagnanti, mobili cristalli,
fior vari e varie piante, erbe diverse,
apriche collinette, ombrose valli,
selve e spelonche in una vista offerse;
e quel che ’l bello e ’l caro accresce a l’opre,
l’arte, che tutto fa, nulla si scopre. 
Stimi (sí misto il culto è co ’l negletto)
sol naturali e gli ornamenti e i siti.
Di natura arte par, che per diletto
l’imitatrice sua scherzando imiti.

When they had passed all those troubled ways,
The garden sweet spread forth her green to show,
The moving crystal from the fountains plays,
Fair trees, high plants, strange herbs and flowerets new,
Sunshiny hills, dales hid from Phoebus' rays,
Groves, arbors, mossy caves, at once they view,
And that which beauty moat, most wonder brought,
Nowhere appeared the art which all this wrought.
So with the rude the polished mingled was
That natural seemed all and every part,
Nature would craft in counterfeiting pass,
And imitate her imitator art.

To strengthen his theory the author says that Milton himself surely knew well Tasso's poem, and took from it his idea of an irregular garden.

Pindemonte, Ippolito. Dissertazione sui giardini inglesi e sul merito di ciò dell'Italia. Padova, 1792.
Tasso, Torquato. La Gerusalemme Liberata. Venezia, 1580.