The true story of the invention of Britain's greatest - and most underappreciated - art form
Between the 1680s and the 1750s, a group of politicans and poets, farmers and businessmen, heiresses and landowners began to experiment with the phenomenon that was to become the English landscape garden. Arguably the greatest British art form ever invented, these gardens were built to charm and delight, to shock and inspire all who visited. That these gardens - including Castle Howard, Stowe, Painshill and Rousham - are still so popular with visitors today is a testament to the innovation and passion of this extraordinary group of eccentrics and visionaries.
The Arcadian Friends takes a highly engaging perspective on the politics and culture of England during the Enlightenment. At the same time it will be required reading for the legions of fans of the great gardens of England.
Tim Richardson introduces us to a period of poltiical and personal intrigue, where fantastic biblical landscapes competed for space with temples to sexual freedom; and where the installatioin of a water feature was a political act. The Arcadian Friends tells the story of a collection of fascinating characters whose influence changed the landscape of Britain for ever.
“Wonderfully rich and packed with vivid details...The Arcadian Friends deserves to become a classic”
“The Arcadian Friends offers an invigorating new approach to familiar garden history territory. In the company of his large cast, Richardson guides us deftly through varied landscapes full of surprises.”
“Replete with first-rate scholarship... there are many delights here”
“Richardson explains this with verve and enthusiasm, and a measure of his success is that he makes the reader want to visit, or revisit, the gardens he describes”
“Wonderfully engaging... This book gives us a way to read the landscape and see again what the original owners intended.”
“Scholarly, irreverent... unashamedly populist but consciously erudite”
Times Higher Education Supplement