On July 16, the latest Portsmouth Athenaeum exhibit “The Georgian Garden in Print and in Portsmouth” opens, focusing on Europe’s Georgian period of garden design, its most famous gardener designers, the books that disseminated their designs, and the Portsmouth gardens that emulated the latest European style.
The exhibit features landscape plans and sketches for several Georgian period (1714 – 1830) gardens in Portsmouth that reflect designs depicted in George Louis Le Rouge’s Jardins Anglo-Chinois. Published serially between 1775 and 1789, the extremely rare book was one of the primary means of spreading newly created garden designs. The exhibit highlights Jardins Anglo-Chinois, the fascinating series of 10 volumes owned by the Athenaeum, as well as a number of related 18th-century books on garden and farm architecture.
At great expense, wealthy 18th-century Portsmouth residents like Gov. John Wentworth and Col. George Boyd brought gardeners directly from Britain while others with fewer monetary resources followed recommendations published in readily available garden books and depicted in prints.
Enthusiastic and imaginative gardeners rejected the rigid and symmetrical garden designs of their predecessors. Instead, they embraced asymmetrical beds, meandering pathways, sweeping views, water features, and eye-catching follies.
Master garden designers such as Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphry Repton transformed whole landscapes — reshaping hills, draining bogs, moving trees, diverting streams, and digging lakes — all to create a meticulously engineered illusion of idyllic nature. These beautifully constructed garden sanctuaries were both admired and imitated throughout Europe and America.
But one of the gems of the Georgian era — and this exhibition — is Le Rouge’s Jardins Anglo-Chinois.
Art historian Bernard Korzus describes the influential publication as “the most voluminous and most important engraved work concerning the history of European gardens during the 18th century. As a whole, this publication contains the most complete collection of views of gardens of Anglo-Chinese or any other mode.”
The exhibition will be featured in the Randall Gallery during regular Athenaeum hours, Tuesday through Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m.
The exhibit closes November 6, 2021.
(Top) A view of Chiswick Garden, London, from George Louis Le Rouge’s Jardins Anglo-Chinois, 1775.
EXHIBIT AT A GLANCE
The Georgian period was an era of revolution in society, politics, industry, architecture, and garden design. This exhibit features rare books and examples of Georgian-style gardens in Portsmouth, which were influenced by these published works.
Friday, July 16, 2021
Randall Gallery, Third Floor, Portsmouth Athenaeum. Open to the public 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday.
Saturday, November 6, 2021
IN THE NEWS
AT THE ATHENAEUM: Portsmouth’s Georgian gardens bloom again at new exhibit
In this month’s “At the Athenaeum” featured in the Portsmouth Herald, Keeper Tom Hardiman, curator of the exhibit “The Georgian Garden in Print and in Portsmouth, 1714-1830,” highlights Fort Anglesea, the unique waterfront garden of Edward Parry (1766-1834) of Pleasant Street.
Image: Portrait Miniature of Edward Parry in London, England, 1800. C13.004.