Landscape in Thomas Whately’ Observation on Modern Gardening
41 , 2018-02-23
Thomas Whately published Observation on Modern Gardening in 1770, which exerted a great influence on the British gardening theory books of the late 18th and early 19th Century. The apparent characteristics of his description in this book is that it is based on the skills in the art of landscape painting. However Whately’s exposition of his own key idea of “character” reveals he set much value upon the role of imagination in description. He was attracted by stylized painting-like garden landscapes while he praised wild natural scenes which stimulated his imagination and he called “romantic.” Here sets of conflicting values coexist between objective/subjective, visual/imaginative and static/dynamic. As this discordance and its mediation is intrinsic to the picturesque landscaping that would be established by such theorists as William Gilpin or Uvedale Price, it is concluded that Whately stood on the threshold of the picturesque movement.