The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section II. Beauties and Principles of the Art of Landscape Gardening

Beautiful and Picturesque landscape gardening

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Now, the two most forcible and complete expressions to be found in that kind of natural scenery which may be reproduced in Landscape Gardening, are the BEAUTIFUL and the PICTURESQUE. As we look upon these as quite distinct, and as success in practical embellishment must depend on our feeling and understanding these expressions beforehand, it is necessary that we should attach some definite meaning to terms which we shall be continually obliged to employ. This is, indeed, the more requisite, from the vague and conflicting opinions of most preceding writers on this branch of the subject; some, like Repton, insisting that they are identical; and others, like Price, that they are widely different. Gilpin defines Picturesque objects to be "those which please from some quality capable of being illustrated in painting." Nothing can well be more vague than such a definition. We have already described the difference between the beautiful landscapes of Claude and the picturesque scenes painted by Salvator. No one can deny their being essentially distinct in character; and no one, we imagine, will deny that they both please from "some quality capable of being illustrated in painting." The beautiful female heads of Carlo Dolce are widely different from those of the picturesque peasant girls of Gerard Douw, yet both are favorite subjects with artists. A symmetrical American elm, with its wide head drooping with garlands of graceful foliage, is very different in expression from the wild and twisted larch or pine tree, which we find on the steep sides of a mountain; yet both are favorite subjects with the painter. It is clear, indeed, that there is a widely different idea hidden under these two distinct types, in material forms.