Medici Gardens: From Making to Design

By Raffaella Fabiani Giannetto | Go to book overview

Introduction

A TYPICAL ITALIAN-STYLE garden often seems to be a garden that is enclosed by a wall or surrounded by a hedge of boxwood trimmed closely so as to resemble a wall; with geometric flowerbeds, and stonework channeling rushing waters; with a bosquet of evergreens in the background, and terraces connected by symmetrical staircases and ramps mirroring the architecture of the house. And this style is said to have originated during the Renaissance.

This definition, reiterated in the pages of books on the history of the Italian garden, seems as rigid as the geometry informing the layout of these verdant places. But not only does it ignore the fact that the notion of an Italian-style garden would have been foreign to anyone living in the Renaissance, it also takes the concept of design as self-evident, as if all the gardens of the Italian Renaissance had been conceived as works of art or, more specifically, architecture.

A number of reasons, historical, political, cultural, and methodological, may explain the genesis of this concept and its crystallization over time. For instance, there is the fascination of many foreign intellectuals with an idea of Italy resting solely on its Renaissance past; the effort of the fascist regime to form and corroborate a national garden tradition that disallowed regional differences; the contemporary process of back formation that urges some scholars to use later sources to reconstruct earlier gardens—all contribute to define the Italian garden as a work of art as fixed as a painting, unaffected by the passing of time.

It is probably not surprising that the earliest association of gardens in Italy with Renaissance principles of order and “formal” layout is mostly due

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Medici Gardens: From Making to Design
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One- Medici Gardens 10
  • Chapter Two- From Work of Nature to Work of Art 88
  • Chapter Three- Writing the Garden in the Age of Humanism 99
  • Chapter Four- Practice and Theory 146
  • Conclusion 179
  • Appendix A- Letter by Galeazzo Maria Sforza 187
  • Appendix B- Metric Letter by Alessandro Braccesi 189
  • Notes 195
  • Bibliography 275
  • Photographic Acknowledgments 293
  • Index 295
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