The Garden Guide

Book: An inquiry into the changes of taste in landscape gardening, 1806
Chapter: Part III. Literary And Miscellaneous Remarks.

Difference between Painting and Gardening

Previous - Next

Difference between Painting and Gardening.-The greatest objection to landscape gardening seems to arise from not making the proper distinction between painting and gardening. The difference betwixt a scene in nature, and a picture on canvas, arises from the following considerations:- First, The spot from whence the view is taken, is in a fixed state to the painter; but the gardener surveys his scenery while in motion; and from different windows in the same front he sees objects in different situations; therefore, to give an accurate portrait of the gardener's improvement, would require pictures from each separate window, and even a different drawing at the most trifling change of situation, either in the approach, the walks, or the drives about each place. Secondly, The quantity of view, or field of vision, in nature, is much greater than any picture will admit. *[To avoid the imputation of vanity, I could wish that the following fact were stated by any other person than myself. In the course of my practice, 3000 different sketches, or views, are now extant in private MSS.; from these I published fifteen plates in my first work, consisting of 250 copies; therefore, of these, 3750 impressions are in circulation. Also thirty-five plates were published in my second work, which, in the two editions, amounted to 26,250 impressions in circulation. To these may be added, that, during the last eighteen years, I have given thirteen designs to an annual work, making 234 views, from each of which, I am informed, 7000 impressions have been made, and, of course, 1,638,000 impressions are in circulation. When this number is compared with the above assertion, that not one landscape has escaped the fatal effects of the art I profess to cultivate and defend, it must prove, from the numerous purchasers and admirers of these things, that "de gustibus non est disputandum." Thirdly, The view from an eminence down a steep hill is not to be represented in painting, although it is often one of the most pleasing circumstances of natural landscape. Fourthly, The light which the painter may bring from any point of the compass must, in real scenery, depend on the time of day. It must also he remembered that the light of a picture can only be made strong by contrast of shade; while, in nature, every object may be strongly illumined, without destroying the composition, or disturbing the keeping. And, Lastly, The foreground, which, by framing the view, is absolutely necessary to the picture, is often totally deficient, or seldom such as a painter chooses to represent; since the neat gravel-walk, or close-mown lawn, would ill supply the place, in painting, of a rotten tree, a bunch of docks, or a broken road, passing under a steep bank, covered with briers, nettles, and ragged thorns.