William Chambers Dissertation On Oriental Gardening 1772

Author
CHAMBERS, William.

Author 2
Thomas Whately.

Title
A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening & Observations on Modern Gardening &c. &c.

Published
London: W. Griffin & T. Davies, 1773 & London: W. Blackader for West & Hughes, 1801.

Description
Chinese influences on British gardening 4to. Three-quarter reddish mottled calf with red morocco title label lettered in gold. With engraved allegorical title (dated 1772) and engraved dedication to King George III, both by F. Bartolozzi after G.B. Cipriani. 163 pp. Second edition with additions. Bound with: [WHATELY, Thomas]. (2) Observations on modern gardening, and laying out pleasure-grounds, parks, farms, ridings, &c. illustrated by descriptions. To which is added, an essay on the different natural situations of gardens. A new edition: with notes by Horace (Late) Earl of Orford; ornamented with plates, chiefly designed by Mr. Wollet (sic!). London, W. Blackader for West & Hughes, 1801. With 6 fine and beautifully hand coloured full-page plates of garden views engraved by W. Wise, J. Walker & C. Cover. VIII, 155 pp. Ad 1: Second and best edition of this work on gardening by William Chambers (1726-1796), in which Chinese elements are introduced and applied in the English garden architecture: the so called "Style Anglo-Chinois", also followed on the Continent. The work includes (pp.109-63) the first edition of 'An explanatory discourse by Tan Chet-qua ... wherein the principles laid down in the foregoing dissertation, are illustrated and applied in practice'. The identity of Tan Chet-qua is unclear and the work may have been written by William Chambers under a pseudonym. William Chambers was a British architect, born in Sweden. At the age of sixteen he became supercargo to the Swedish East India Company, and voyaging to Canton, he made drawings of Chinese architecture, furniture and costume which served as basis for his Designs for Chinese Buildings, etc. (1757). Two years later he quitted the sea to study architecture seriously, and spent a long time in Italy and Paris. In 1755 he returned to England. He was employed to teach architectural drawing to the prince of Wales (later George III), and gained further professional distinction in 1759 by the publication of his Treatise of Civil Architecture. In 1772 he published the present work, Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, which attempted to prove the inferiority of European to Chinese landscape gardening. As a furniture designer and internal decorator he is credited with the creation of that "Chinese Style" which was for a time furiously popular, although Thomas Chippendale had published designs in that manner at a somewhat earlier date. It is not unreasonable, however, to count the honours as divided. To the rage for every possible form of chinoiserie, for which he is chiefly responsible, Sir William Chambers owed much of his success in life. In the preface of his Dissertation ... Chambers refers to the formal style of gardening and also to the prevailing taste of the English natural school and, although he does not mention him by name, directs a personal attack on Capability Brown. As an alternative he offered a study of the Chinese manner of gardening with its great variety of scenes and buildings. "The Chinese gardens take nature for their pattern; and their aim is to imitate all her beautiful irregularities" he writes on p. 14 of his preface. Chambers filled his work with many fanciful notions which provoked jeers from some of his contemporaries. Furthermore he described some very interesting ideas on planting, etc. Early in 1773 appeared An heroic epistle to Sir William Chambers, the famous anonymous satirical poem written by William Mason with the assistance of Horace Walpole, which only increased very much the sales of the work it set out to ridicule. The original edition was published in London in 1772 and was reprinted several times. Ad 2: First illustrated edition of this celebrated work, with six plates of some of the gardens described, and notes consisting of extracts from Horace Walpole's essay On modern gardening. Five of the six illustrations were made from drawings by William Woollett (1735-1785). To this edition was also added 'An essay on the different natural situations of gardens', first published in 1774 as a separate work. Whately's book is the most comprehensive work on the theory of landscape design developed by the natural school before the time of Humphrey Repton. The popularity of the work is attested by the number of times it was published. It was re-issued several times in London and Dublin; it was translated into French (1772) and German (1775), and the work was also pirated. A facsimile-edition of the first 1770 edition appeared as vol. 19 in the series The English landscape garden. It contains descriptions of the Leasowes, Woburn Farm, Painshill, Hagley, Stowe, Persfield, and other famous gardens. Illustrated are the gardens at Hall Barn, near Beaconsfield, Esher in Surry, Carlton House (the residence of the Prince of Wales), Woburn in Surry, Pains Hill, Surry, and Hagley Gardens. Very good copies. Armorial bookplate of "Lord Dinorben" affixed to front pastedown.

Coloured plates in order:

Observations on Modern Gardening.

1. Frontis. A View of part of the Garden at Hall Barn, near Beaconsfield, Bucks as laid out by Edmond Waller Esq.
2. Esher in Surry, the Seat of the Rt. HonHenry Pelham, as laid out by Mr. Kent.
3. View of the Gardens &c. at Carlton House, the Residence of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.
4. The House and Gardens at Woobourn in Surrey, as laid out by Philip Southcote Esq.
5. View of the West side of the Gardens at Pains Hill Surrey, as laid out by the Hon. Charles Hamilton.
6. A View of Hagley Gardens &c. from Thomson's Seat.

References
Ad 1: Springer 54; R.C. Bald, 'Sir William Chambers and the Chinese Garden', in: Journal of the History of Ideas, 11/3 (1950), pp. 287-320; cf. Johnston, Cleveland herbal, bot. and horticultural collections 510; Blanche Henrey, II, pp. 514-20 and III, pp

Hand coloured plates
6

Binding/Size
M=4to

Category
18th Century & earlier, Architecture/Mansions, British Isles

Value
$5,001-25,000

Stock ID
1414

Abstract

The scenes of liberty and fear in Sir William Chambers’ Dissertation on Oriental Gardening (1772) can be interpreted in relation to Edmund Burke’s theory of the sublime and beautiful. The scenes may therefore articulate a landscape theory cultivating the sentiment of fear— via the sense of awe—in liberal and civil societies. Chambers’ Dissertation sets forth the sublime scenes which constrain limitless human will coexisting with the landscape of liberty. Referring to the idea of nature in Chinese gardening as balanced human emotions, Chambers also proposes that British cities and the countryside are to be landscaped as educational sites, in order to maintain the moral sentiments of citizens. The Dissertation affords an important insight into eighteenth-century British city and landscape planning practice which, I argue, did not develop according to bourgeoisie interest alone, but rather as a contested realm, constantly challenged by humanist thoughts of landscape as an instrument shaping people’s imaginations.

Description

This article was originally accepted for publication by the Journal of Architecture and Culture, and subsequently withdrawn by the author. An edited version of the article has been published as a chapter in "Entangled Landscapes: Early Modern China and Europe", edited by Yue Zhuang and Andrea M. Riemenschnitter, pp. 56 - 114. The chapter is "Fear and Pride: Sir William Chambers' Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, Burke's sublime and China" and is in ORE at http://hdl.handle.net/10871/30267

URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10871/17387

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