The Garden Guide

Nesfield, William Andrews

Born - Died : 1793 - 1881

A soldier, watercolour painter and garden designer.In 1814 he helped defend Fort Erie, in Canada, against the Americans. As a garden desgner Nesfield drew upon pre-eighteenth century English gardens, designing terraces and parterres. He worked at Worsley Hall, Kew Gardens, Grimston Park, Holkham Hall, Broughton Hall, Regent's Park, Ogston Hall. Nesfield worked with his brother in law (Anthony Salvin) and his son, William Eden Nesfield, became a well-known architect. Nesfield lived beside Salvin in a villa at Fortis Green, Muswell Hill, Middlesex and then at 3 York Terrace, Regent's Park. JC Loudon admired, described and illustrated his Fortis Green villa. Nesfield told Sir William Hooker, who commissioned him to design a terrace at Kew, that he regarded landscape design as ‘the Art of painting with Nature's materials’. Ruskin praised Nesfield in Modern Painters for&nbsp his ‘extraordinary feeling both for the colour and the spirituality of a great waterfall’. Nesfield was perhaps the best-known and most successful British garden designer in mid-nineteenth century. Nina Antonetti has shown that he used the professional title 'landscape architect' before Frederick Law Olmsted. See William Andrews Nesfield and the origins of the landscape architect. Nesfield used the term on his report and drawings for Buckingham Palace. This was not quite the sense in which Olmsted used the term, because it was for a private residence, but Calvert Vaux could well have known that Nesfield was using the term when he left England. The Wikipedia entry on Vaux states that 'In 1851, Vaux exhibited in London a collection of landscape watercolors made on a tour to the Continent, and it was this gallery that captured the attention of the American landscape designer and writer Andrew Jackson Downing, who many consider to be "The Father of American Landscape Architecture." Downing had traveled to London in search of an architect who would complement his vision of what a landscape should be. Downing believed that architecture should be visually integrated into the surrounding landscape, and he wanted to work with someone who had as deep an appreciation of art as he did. Vaux readily accepted the job and moved to the United States.' Nesfield's close working partnership with Salvin was the type of professional relationship Downing wanted to have with Vaux - and which Vaux subsequently had with Olmsted. There is an echo of Nesfield's style in the design of the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park New York.

Gardens designed by Nesfield, William Andrews