Stefano della Bella, Colossal Statue of the Apennines at Pratolino, ca. 1651/1653
The New York Botanical Gardens present European Pleasure Gardens: Rare Books and Prints of Historic Landscape Design from the Elizabeth K. Reilley Collection, on view from May through August 3, 2003. In June 2002, Elizabeth Kals Reilley donated to The New York Botanical Garden her superb collection of rare books and prints relating to garden design. This remarkable collection comprises most of the important works in European landscape design, some of which are not recorded as being held by any other American library.
The 54 works on display depicted the movements that shaped European garden design over several centuries, from the influence of the Italian Renaissance to a later counter-aesthetic that imitated the natural landscape. In addition to their beauty and horticultural importance, the works showed how the garden has been a canvas for philosophy, political beliefs, and expressions of social status. Among the exhibition selections were a first edition of the first national compendium of chateau and garden designs by Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau, 1573–1576; an original manuscript Red Book by Humphry Repton; an elegant book of prints of the Labyrinth at Versailles depicting fountains based on Aesop’s fables; and other works featuring illustrations of waterworks and fountain design, a special interest of Mrs. Reilley.
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