The Garden Guide

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

Objects made beautiful by composition

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1462. Objects not beautiful in themselves may become so when combined, from the mere circumstance of their combination forming a whole, and thus producing an effect which is satisfactory to the mind. On looking at any pleasing object, whether in nature or art, it will always be found, on analysing it, that whether it be merely agreeable, or supremely beautiful, it still forms a whole: this quality of forming a whole being independent of every other kind of beauty, and yet common to all the different kinds of it. On the other hand, no composition whatever, though its parts, when taken separately, may each be of the greatest beauty, will please when these parts are put together, unless in that state they form a whole. Parts, also, which, if viewed separately, have little or no beauty, may, when combined in due subordination to the principle of unity, form a beautiful whole. A multitude of objects enter into the composition of those landscapes which include a considerable portion of distant scenery. Many of these objects taken separately may not only be of little beauty, but may be disagreeable and even deformed; yet some one principle, by operating alike on this immense number of seemingly discordant particulars, reduces them all to one agreeable composite sensation. This principle in the background of a natural landscape is distance; and in the foreground of a natural landscape is continuous light or continuous shade. In like manner, all discordant compositions may be rendered accordant, if not positively beautiful, by some uniting principle which may be applied in common to all their parts. The whole of a discordant landscape may be reduced to unity of expression by increasing the distance of the picture from the eye, by excess of either light or shade being thrown over every part of it, or by sameness of colouring; and a house or other building which, in respect to its form, its lines, or its style, is discordant, may be rendered tolerable by being stained in every part with dark tints, so as to give the whole an appearance of age and antiquity.