The English Garden: evolution of taste and botanical passion under the influence of the Enlightenment

The Royal Academy of Belgium is launching a new collection entitled Grand Format by publishing ‘Le jardin anglais: Evolution du goût et passion botanique sous l’influence des Lumières’ (The english garden: Evolution of taste and botanical passion under the influence of the Enlightenment) written by Nathalie de Harlez de Deulin. The author analyzes how, under the influence of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, castles, towns or individuals broke down the locks of a rigid aesthetic to create sumptuous “English gardens” combining authenticity with beauty in the former southern Netherlands.

This summary work is the result of 15 years of research in the field, in the library and in the archives, which led to the defense of a doctoral thesis under the direction of Professors Dominique Allart (Uliège) and Krista Dejonghe (KUL) and the advice enlightened by Monique Mosser (Honorary Engineer at the CNRS) who signs the preface.

Nathalie de Harlez de Deulin is a garden historian, Doctor in History, Art and Archaeology, and author of studies prior to the restoration of historic gardens. Coordinator of the Inventory of historic parks and gardens of Wallonia and of the summary work Parks and historic gardens of Wallonia (2008), she has published ‘The gardens of the castle d’Annevoie. History and Hydraulic Engineering’ (2020). A specialist member of the CRMSF, member of the International Committee of Cultural Landscapes of ICOMOS and member of the scientific committee of the European Institute of Gardens and Landscapes.

Under the influence of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, travel and botanical discoveries, the evolution of the art of gardens reveals the passion of contemporaries for the introduction, collection, acclimatization and exhibition of foreign plants. This new vision of the garden contributes to the recognition of the sponsor’s social status and to the deployment of its artistic and cultural values.

The book offers an original synthesis of the available sources and gardens testifying to the influence of the English model at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century on the territory of present-day Belgium.

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