JACQUES-EDOUARD BERGER FOUNDATION: World Art Treasures

THE ENCHANTED GARDENS OF THE RENAISSANCE

Since man has existed, and, one might almost say, before man existed, there have been gardens.

 

I will refer only to the Garden of Eden which was, after all, the place in which man was born. It existed even before Adam and Eve came into the picture. One has heard of the gardens of Semiramis and the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

 

There are traces of an Egyptian Pharaoh's garden. It was the one designed by the Pharaoh Tutmosis III within the temple complex at Karnak. More recently, literature speaks of the splendors of the gardens of the Tivoli patrons, contemporaries of the emperor Nero. From a point of view of taste, they were considered to be the grandest, most beautiful and noblest that could be imagined. This caused a jealous Nero to have even more beautiful ones designed. They adorned the Domus Aurea. They were located under the present day parking lot at the Colosseum.

 

You have certainly heard of the gardens that the Empress Theodora had designed for her husband, Justinian, in Byzantium.

 

The monastery gardens of our grand 12th, 13th and 14th centuries were the preferred resting places of the Virgin. Known as Ortus Conclusus, the enclosed garden sheltered the miracle of the incarnation itself. Even more recently, the gardens at Versailles, Schönbrun, Charlottenburg and Nuremberg were high points of garden art. As you have probably noticed, I have only spoken about Western gardens. I have omitted those of China, Japan and Moghul India.


Realized by Line, Jacques-Edouard's student Ecole des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (1973 - 1978).

Wherever man exists, he finds the need to redesign, to recreate the world. A more beautiful world, purer, sweeter smelling and more colorful. A garden is probably the spot where the hopes for civilization are best captured. In fact, man defines himself by his garden.

A garden's purpose changes from place to place, from civilization to civilization.

 

The ones which we shall explore are landmark gardens. We shall visit three Renaissance gardens. Three of the most beautiful Mannerist gardens in Italy :

The Sacred Grove of Bomarzo

The Villa
Lante gardens in Bagnaia

The Villa d'Este gardens in Tivoli

All three are located in the area surrounding Rome.
We shall approach these extraordinary properties which the Renaissance princes built first across Italy and then all over Europe.
These princes considered these gardens to be far more than valued retreats. It was an opportunity to create a three dimensional initiatory journey through a summary of their century's thinking and a form of synthesis of their era's aspirations.
These gardens were of far greater importance than we accord them today.

I shall try to show you that these Italian Renaissance gardens, which appear to be simply pleasure gardens are, in fact, initiatory gardens.
I have organized them in a proper initiatory order, starting with the simplest and going to the most complex.
At the end of the journey, I hope that you will be sufficiently familiar with this concept of initiation to understand its true impact, its deep significance.