THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE GARDEN
Italy is full of beautiful hidden gardens behind old wooden doors. There are fountains, pools and ancient Italian garden sculptures. When I lived in Rome, I sometimes caught a glimpse of a garden when the door was ajar. Just occasionally, these gardens were opened to the general public. When they were, it was always a wonderful surprise. The Italian Renaissance Garden of the late 15th century was created from a combination of the villa, the garden, the landscape and the sculptural form. It was inspired by the ancient Roman garden. This later became very popular all over Europe.
In the villas of Rome and Florence, The Italian Renaissance Garden has classical order and beauty. There are views of the garden and the landscape beyond. The gardens were designed for contemplation. In the late Renaissance, the gardens became more formal. The Medici Family in Florence used their gardens to demonstrate power and wealth. They commissioned sculptors resulting in the gardens becoming grander and more symmetrical. There were statues, marble columns, vases, water, fountains, ponds, porticos and grottos. As well as stone sculptures, topiary was also used for statuary. Sculptures are often more impressive if they are combined with formal hedging and topiary. Pliny, The Younger, preferred topiary sculptures constructed from plants and soil. This can be seen at The Quaracchi Gardens in Tuscany.
EXAMPLES OF ITALIAN RENAISSANCE GARDENS
One of the best examples of The Italian Renaissance Garden is at Tivoli near Rome. This garden was created by Cardinal Ippolitio II d’Este, son of The Duke of Ferrara and Lucrezia Borgia. The architect was Pirro Ligorio. The garden is full of terraces with an alley of 100 fountains and The Fountain of Dragons.
There is also the garden at Ninfa in The Lepini Hills. This has been described as The most beautiful garden on earth. Other examples of Renaissance Gardens can be seen at The Boboli Gardens in Florence, The Villa di Castello in Tuscany, Villa Medici at Fiesole near Florence, and The Palazzo Piccolomini at Pianza, in Tuscany.
SCULPTURES IN THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE GARDEN
There was a strong emphasis on the use of sculptures in the Renaissance period. These were made from marble, limestone and alabaster. The sculptures were designed to evoke classical Rome and its gods. They were an important feature of the garden. The sculptures gave visual impact with a focal point leading the eye through the garden. The placement of the sculptures was also important in order to give maximum effect. The morning or evening light and shade also needed to be considered.
In Rome, at The Cortile del Belevedere in The Vatican by Donato Bramante in 1504, there is an amazing collection of classical sculpture. This is from Pope Julius II collection. It includes Laocoon and Apollo Belevedere. At The Villa Madama in Rome, designed by Raphael, there is a fountain with a head of an elephant by Giovanni da Udine and two stucco figures by Baccio Baninelli.
Perhaps, the most extraordinary Italian Renaissance Garden is at Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo in Lazio. This garden was created between 1552 ad 1584. This is a mannerist garden which is complex and bizarre. There are enormous statues with The Mouth of Hell, strange animal and figures all carved out from the volcanic rock. By the late 20th century, the garden had become neglected. Salvador Dali, the painter, however, came to the rescue. He was mesmerised by the strangeness of the garden, so made a short film about it and also produced a picture. This publicity enabled The Bettini family to begin a restoration programme which continued until the 1970s. Today, the property is a major tourist attraction.
GARDEN SCULPTURES BY SIMON BURNS-COX
If you would like to create a garden with beautiful sculpture, why not contact Simon Burns-Cox, who is a professional Sculptor and Letter Carver based at The Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. Simon is available for all types of bespoke Garden Sculpture commissions. Simon also sells his work through The Sculpture Website and The Gardening Website:
If you would like to discuss your requirements, please contact him below:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Website: www.simonburnscox.co.uk