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Garden books in the Special Collections of the Barr Smith Library

Ancient gardens

Although very few descriptions of ancient gardens have survived, recreations can be found in the copperplate engravings of Giacomo Lauro's vellum bound Antiquae Urbis Splendoris ... printed in Rome in 1615. His views of Rome include the simple walled garden of Lucellus, the famous Epicurean, and the beautiful enclosed formal garden of the poet Ovid as imagined from his description written while in exile. Ovid's garden

Mediaeval gardens

Sunken garden bordered by vine trellis, "Hours of Etienne Chevalier"
Similarly, illuminated manuscript illustrations are invaluable for providing documentary evidence of mediaeval gardens. While our funds do not run to original texts, we can still enjoy the colour, detail and liveliness of mediaeval life through reproductions. The Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (ca. 1409-1416) illuminated by Pol de Limbourg and his brothers provides the earliest surviving representations of actual mediaeval gardens, and the Hours of Etienne Chevalier (ca. 1453) illuminated by Jean Fouquet depicts a sunken garden and bowers in detail. The Grimani Breviary (ca. 1510) illustrated by artists of the school of Ghent and Ruges has long been acclaimed for its realistic detail of contemporary gardens.

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Barr Smith Library
South Australia 5005


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