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Landscape design history: Beaux Arts versions of Persian-Mughal gardens
June 7, 2013 2:40 PM   Subscribe

I work in a garden that is a Beaux Arts designed garden that mimics a Persian/Mughal walled garden. I'm interested in finding out what the Beaux Arts guys knew about these gardens and the ideas/symbolism/history that they were thinking about when they were designing them.

I am specifically interested in the kinds of sources that these guys were using for their garden design back in the early 1900s, as well as good sources on Beaux Arts design as it concerns Persian/Mughal garden design.

I have already found lots of books from about 1960 to the present on Persian/Mughal garden designs, but it struck me as I was reading them that back in 1915 the guy doing the design didn't have access to a lot of this information.

I've spent a bunch of time doing research in the sciences and while there is certainly some overlap in how to find things, I'm rapidly realizing that I am not skilled at this sort of stuff. Help!

Other pertinent information:
I can read French and can probably muddle through Italian but not German; so if there are sources in the first two, I'd be happy to take a look.

I have indirect access to an academic library through a family member - I'd generally stop by and ask a reference librarian for help with this, but I think that having my +1 do this might be too complicated. But I can have him take books out for me or make a couple of ILL requests.

Note: this is not for a class; you are not helping me do homework. This is my job and I haven't been assigned this as a project. I'm doing this just because I'm curious about the place I work in.
posted by sciencegeek to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gosh, I'm too exhausted to dig into this right now but there really is a ton of stuff on this. I think what you need to be looking for is the trend known as Orientalism which drew on the architecture, literature, and decorative arts of Asia, broadly taken. That term alone should help you open up some paths for research, stuff like this, this, this. It's definitely a thing. What's interesting is that you get to look at orientalism as applied to landscape design, which was pretty much an entirely new art form in the late 19th century, so that's a very particular but super interesting niche. Good luck.
posted by Miko at 8:44 PM on June 7, 2013


I have already found lots of books from about 1960 to the present on Persian/Mughal garden designs, but it struck me as I was reading them that back in 1915 the guy doing the design didn't have access to a lot of this information.

Napolean's expedition to Egypt (and the Description de l'Égypte) was 1798 to 1801 - more than a century before this guy drew up plans. The French Geographic Society was founded in 1821. French scholars were doing up special purpose architectural encyclopedias in (yadda yadda, google search, wikipedia, yadda yadda).
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:48 PM on June 7, 2013


*not new art form really, that's not quite fair, it was a new profession.
posted by Miko at 8:50 PM on June 7, 2013


So it may be that the term I'm looking for is "Indo-Saracenic Revival"

I'm trying out google scholar with the search terms encyclopedia and architecture with a date range of 1880-1920. And, with the same date range, Persian and garden.

Also, for future reference, the Middle East Garden website is quite nice on actual Persian/Mughal gardens.

I'm not interested in the Egyptian expedition and the craze for Egyptian things that followed. While there are Assyrian and Greek elements in addition to the Persian/Mughal garden, there appear to be no Egyptian-themed items.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:35 AM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course I'm an idiot - the chair of our board is an architect and I should have asked him in the first place. He showed up Saturday morning at the garden and I barely got my question out and he completely understood what I was interested in and suggested Gardens of the Great Mughals by Constance Mary Stuart Villiers. Apparently there's also a vaguely reasonable masters thesis from a guy who was at Columbia on the designer of the garden (William Welles Bosworth) which mentions books in Bosworth's library.

Now to figure out a way to access this thesis...
posted by sciencegeek at 3:14 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it may be that the term I'm looking for is "Indo-Saracenic Revival"

Regarding that, I wonder if The Jeypore Portfolio of Architectural Details (1890) could have included some Mughal gardens. (Via google) The book apparently was intended to be a mix-and-match sourcebook but would have included a few prominent Indian gardens.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:32 AM on June 10, 2013


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