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Home: Influence on Formal Landscape Design ThroughoutResearch Paper

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Home: Influence on Formal Landscape Design

Throughout history, the private home, villa, or estate commission, has served as an important laboratory for formal innovations and the development of new paradigms in design. Elizabeth Barlow (2001) tells us that "human interaction with the land reveals...the development of society, and...the resulting cities, parks, ad gardens embody the values of the cultures that planned and built them." The historic/aesthetic view of design is the idea that there are a few unquestionably great designers who should be studied and revered. This idea is debatable, but the fact is that there are several extraordinarily innovative, influential designers whose ideas have had a profound affect on the history of design. Within the field of landscape design, there are potent, powerful commissions that have not only made an impact upon landscape design but have altered the course of design itself. Among them are the Vaux-Le-Vicomte designed by Andre Le Notre, the Villa d'Este designed by Pirro Ligorio, and the Villa Lante designed by Giacomo Barozzi Da Vignola.

The Vaux-le-Vicomte

Andre Le Notre was a French landscape architect of the fifteenth century. Gardening was in his blood and he was born into an extended lineage of royal gardeners, including a father and grandfather who were responsible for the architecture and upkeep of the Palais de Tuileries gardens. Le Notre's family home was located within the Tuileries gardens, which allowed him to acquire both practical and theoretical knowledge of gardening in such a way that formal landscape architecture became second nature to him. In addition, it afforded Le Notre the opportunity to study mathematics, painting, and architecture at the nearby Palais de Louvre, which lent a professional, precise aspect to all of his designs. In fact, he was taught classical art and perspective from such renowned painters as Charles Le Brun and Simon Vouet. And architectural form from the prominent architect Francois Mansart. (Thompson 2006)

Le Notre's career as a gardener was an essential part of his formative experiences, childhood surroundings, and inborn natural traits. He began his professional gardening life in 1635, at the age of 22, with an appointment as the principal gardener for the king's brother. He rose quickly through the hierarchy, quite naturally taking over his father's responsibilities as head gardener at the Tuilieres and holding positions for several members of the royal family, including the French superintendent of finances as well as the queen mother herself. Le Notre was eventually given complete responsibility for the royal gardens of France in their entirety as head gardener for King Louis XI, becoming one of the king's most trusted advisors. (Thompson 2006) Le Notre designed and constructed many notable projects over the span of his career, the most prolific being the park at the Palace of Versailles. The Vaux-le-Vicomte was his first major garden design and was used by Le Notre as an inspiration for Versailles.

Frederick Lees (1997) tells us about Le Notre's work on this garden in his article the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Le Notre was commissioned by Louis XIV's superintendent, Nicolas Fouquet, to design a garden in partnership with the architect Louis Le Vau and the painter Charles Le Brun. The three began work in 1657 with the project reaching completion in August 1661. Aside from the significance of the design, the events surrounding this project have an infamous history. Fouquet was so anxious to impress the king with the construction of a lavish, magnificent chateau that he misappropriated funds from the French treasury in order to finance it. He was arrested and sentenced to a lifetime imprisonment for this misdeed, and his wife was exiled from the country.

One could say that Fouquet absolutely achieved his goal. Despite the scandal that surrounded it, the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte is in many ways "the most influential work built in Europe in the mid 17th century and [one of] the most elaborate and grand house[s] built in France..." (Lees 1997) the collaboration of the three artists - painter, architect, and landscape architect - was the first time in history that such an affiliation had been used to create a large-scale project. This also marked the beginning of a brand new school, what is now known as the Louis XIV style, and is as well an excellent representation of the Baroque style of architecture along with the jardin a la francaise, or the French formal garden style.

Peter Pater (1976) tells us that the main component of the Louis XIV style is a system of collective works that involve the structure, its interiors and artworks, and the outside garden, or the theory that the project's design is to be developed as the creation of an entire landscape. The Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte was designed and constructed using this principal, the formal integration of the gardens in the composition of the palace. Other components of the Louis XIV style were integrated from the Baroque style of that time, which can be described as a "melding of traditional French elements such as lofty mansard roofs and complex rooflines with expensive Italian quotations like ubiquitous rustication." (Pater 1976) the Louis XIV school is also known as the Magnificent Manner, a name that is highly evocative of the priorities and ideals in design at the time.

The Vaux-le-Vicomte worked during this time period for several reasons. The design influences of early French Baroque architecture were paramount to the Louis XIV style. This influence allowed the designers of the 16th century to take advantage of an already lofty and complex manner and transform it into a monumental, grandiose three-dimensional scheme. Fouquet's influence was unprecedented and irreplaceable. His personality was artistic and cultivated, which brought out the best in the designers, and his expectations had an effect on the outcome of the project that could not have been matched by anyone else at any other time.

The Villa d'Este

Pirro Ligorio was born in Naples, Italy in the early 17th century. He later moved to Rome where he studied and grew as a painter, architect, and garden designer. Ligorio did an extensive amount of work for the Roman clergy and papacy, including Popes Pius IV and Paul IV and Cardinal Ippolito Il d'Este. His most famous work, the waterworks at Villa d'Este, was in fact commissioned by the Cardinal. Ligorio studied and designed in the Mannerist style. His career was clouded by controversy, as in 1558 he was fired from his position as superintendent of antiquities by Pope Paul IV due to his criticism of Michelangelo's work in St. Peter's Basilica. (Coffin 2003)

The Villa d'Este is a villa located in Tivoli, near Rome. It is a classic example of Renaissance architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden. Its design was a combined effort of design by Ligorio, architecture by the prominent architect-engineer Alberto Galvani, and interior design by the skilled and ambitious painter Livio Agresti. The result was "a palatial setting surrounded by a spectacular terraced garden in the late Renaissance Mannerist style." (Coffin 2003) the most significant aspect of this Villa was the water features in the garden, designed by Ligorio, which was unprecedented in that it revived ancient Roman techniques of hydraulic engineering in order to bring in an adequate water supply for the elaborate illusionary fountains and mixed architectural elements with fantasy waterworks in an innovative and novel form.

The impact that the Villa d'Este had on the history of landscape design was two fold. It used the dramatic slope of the surrounding hills to form the structural base of the garden and its water features. This required an imaginative method of bringing in a water supply, which found success in cascades, water tanks, troughs and pools, water jets, and fountains. The end result was a series of tremendous 17th century villas with water play in structures in their surrounding hills. The garden planning and water features of the Villa d'Este was emulated throughout the next two hundred years in all of Europe.

The second significant impact was the villa's frescoes, designed by Ligorio and his contemporary, painter and interior designer Livio Agresti. The vaulted ceilings were frescoed in secular allegories of the Roman Catholic world view of the time. They represent an iconographical formulation of the people's temporal ideology and serve as an ideal artistic interpretation of the way the general lay population's beliefs and thought processes.

Villa Lante

The Villa Lante at Bagnaia is styled in the Mannerist tradition of the Italian Renaissance. It is formed by two casini, or houses, that are nearly identical but built almost thirty years apart. These houses reflect the severe Mannerist style of elongated proportions, highly stylized poses, and lack of clear perspective. Mannerism is noted for its intellectual sophistication and its artificial qualities (Smyth 1992), these aspects reflected as well in the Villa Lante's architecture and its landscape design.

Craig Hugh Smyth (1992) tells us about Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and the Villa Lante. The Villa Lante is commonly attributed to Vignola, one of the great Italian architects of 16th century Italian… [END OF PREVIEW]

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