Medici Gardens: From Making to Design

By Raffaella Fabiani Giannetto | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Practice and Theory

The Design of the Garden

The tradition of garden making that produced the Medici orti of the early Renaissance did not operate by means of drawings and models. It appears that a concept of design vis-à-vis the “art” of gardens did not yet exist, and that the layout of Quattrocento pleasances resulted from an empirical modus operandi. This may have taken into account such elements as sense perception, that is, the sense of olfaction, which would dictate the choice and grouping of odoriferous plants—as Ficino’s recommendations suggest—or the sense of sight, which would call for the choice of sites totally open to the landscape—as is the case with Fiesole. Moreover, utilitarian reasons would often dictate the proximity to the house of kitchen gardens and fruit gardens, or pomarii, whose layout, as many scholars have already pointed out, was inherited from the agricultural tradition. At any rate, the appearance of the garden would be decided in situ, that is, on site, and not at a drawing table or in some bottega, where models of buildings were produced.

Grazia Gobbi Sica has called attention to the fact that the making of gardens in fifteenth-century Florence, just as in the Middle Ages, is not linked to a design practice, and such examples as the villa Lo Specchio at Quaracchi, whose garden has been described in plenty of detail by its owner Giovanni Rucellai—and is usually interpreted as the result of an overall and elaborate design scheme—are but exceptions.1 On the other hand, according to Gobbi Sica, toward the middle of the sixteenth century gardens reflect literally the design principles, based on geometry, put forth in the treatises written toward

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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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