The Garden Guide

Book: The Principles of Landscape Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Principles of Landscape Gardening

Archibald Alison on works of art

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1460. Works of art, Alison observes, may be considered either in relation to their design or intention-to the nature of their construction for the intended purpose-or to the nature of the end they are destined to serve; and their beauty accordingly will depend either upon the excellence or wisdom of the design, the fitness or propriety of the construction, or the utility of the end. The considerations of design, of fitness, and of utility, therefore, may be considered as the three great sources of the beauties of works of inventive art. They have been called relative beauties, in opposition to those of nature and imitative art, which are hence denominated natural or independent beauties. There is a third source of beauty common both to arts of invention and imitation, which is that of accidental beauty, or such as is produced by local, arbitrary, or temporary associations. The beauties of objects, whether natural, relative, or accidental, are conveyed to the senses by the different qualities of matter; such as form, sound, colour, smell, and motion; but form is the grand characteristic of matter, and constitutes in a great degree its essence to our senses. In our remarks, therefore, on the beauties of inventive art, we shall chiefly consider design, fitness, and utility, in regard to form.