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Francis Bacon on Gardens (1902)



Of Gardens. By Francis Bacon; 1902; Hacon & Ricketts in London.

Featuring artwork by Lucien Pissarro, this is a beautiful art nouveau edition of an essay on gardens by the Renaissance philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626). On the subject of gardens, Bacon writes that “it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment of the spirit of man; without which, buildings and places are but gross handyworks”. He suggests that gardens should be planted so that there would always be something green no matter the season and proceeds to list his suggestions on plants which produce pleasing scents as well as what kind of fountains should be preferred. He also offers his thoughts on the topiary fad which would have been rife throughout the grander of European gardens at the time: “I, for my part, do not like images cut out in juniper or other garden stuff; they be for children. Little low hedges round, like welts, with some pretty pyramids, I like well.”

A large part of the essay is taken up with Bacon’s description of his ideal garden, and indeed he was himself a keen gardener and designer of gardens, having apparently masterminded a fairly elaborate one of his own at his home in Twickenham. Although a lovely edition, this 1902 book divorces the garden essay from its companion piece “Of Buildings”, which Bacon intended to precede it.

For more on 17th-century ideas on the garden, see Sir William Temple Upon the Gardens of Epicurus with Other XVIIth Century Garden Essays.

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: University of Toronto Libraries
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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