Medici Gardens: From Making to Design

By Raffaella Fabiani Giannetto | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
From Work of Nature to Work of Art

THE PRACTICE OF garden making in early modern Florence was a perfunctory activity, resulting both from an oral tradition and from the application of the principles of good husbandry extracted from agricultural handbooks. These texts were manuals more than treatises in that their authors’ main objective was to share their horticultural knowledge, which was the result of years of direct experience. This knowledge did not include the methodological principles related to garden design, however, for it is likely that a concept of design intended as process (the series of actions performed by the designer), rather than as end product (the object of design), did not yet exist. This means that the scriptores did not conceptualize, for example, about the use of drawings and models in order to define a certain spatial configuration, nor did they theorize a process of design as temporally separate from actual implementation. Therefore, it is likely that their gardens were laid out directly on the land, not first on paper. In addition to the literature on husbandry, gardens were also mentioned in relation to architecture. But if the process of designing buildings was indeed addressed by the authors, that of designing gardens, as we shall see, was not. Within architectural treatises, gardens often appear as accessories, whose implementation is described in terms of know-how.

One of the most frequently published works on agriculture is the Liber ruralium commodorum written by Pier de’ Crescenzi between 1304 and 1306.1 The book, originally written in Latin, was translated into Tuscan in 1350. In total there were eleven published editions in Latin, and twenty-seven editions had been published in Italian by 1852.2 The author was a learned man who

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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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