Russian State University for the Humanities, Russia
Stowe, Richard Temple’s estate at Buckinghamshire, became a model of the landscape garden style as early as in the mid-18th century. It was frequented and studied from books (Benton Seeley’s Description was first published in 1744 as first garden guidebook ever), its scenes and farbiques were varied in a number of European gardens, from Merevilles to Tsarskoye Selo (“Russian Stowe” topic was investigated by Hayden and Shvidkovsky). It was there that the main ideas of the English style were fulfilled, namely 1) improvement conception, realized in four building stages, 2) unbroken landscape without borders and fences, 3) its scenes, having their own characters, and 4) a sequence of farbiques, showing the shades of this character.
The paper presents materials of the four building periods of Stowe, that is the first layout of the late 17th century, the Italianate park by Charles Bridgeman (1710s–1720s), landscaping by William Kent (1730s–1740s) and, the last word in Stowe and the first in the new school, Grecian Valley by Lancelot Brown. The span of the place, therefore, stretches up from the beginning of the landscape style toward the final, Brownian type of the Enlightenment garden.
Aesthetic qualities and universal landscape of Stowe brought to life numerous texts. This variety includes tourist pamphlets by Seeley and Gilpin, memoires by Defoe and de Ligne, a description by Latapie, added to the French translation of Whately’s book. Two crucial theoretical texts (Epistle to Lord Burlington by Pope and Observations on the Modern Gardening by Whately) will be analyzed at length; the Epistle, beside the praise toward Stowe, coins the expression “Consult the Genius of the Place in all”, and explains its garden implications. The author of the paper has been studying English garden history for 25 years (ca. 50 publications, see http://www.gardenhistory.ru/page.php?pageid=421; http://www.gardenhistory.ru/page.php?pageid=130) and has visited Stowe four times (1994–2011). The paper will be illustrated by historical engravings, the author’s photos and the author’s complete translations of all the texts mentioned above.