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Essay on Gardens

A Chapter in the French Picturesque

Edited by: Samuel Danon
Contributor: Joseph Disponzio
Published in 1774, Essay on Gardens is one of the earliest texts showing the progressive shift in French taste from the classical model of the gardens at Versailles to the picturesque or natural style of garden design in the late eighteenth century.

Author Information

Claude-Henri Watelet (1718-86) was a French painter, poet, playwright, and theoretician. Samuel Danon is Professor Emeritus of French, Reed College. Joseph Disponzio teaches at Bryn Mawr College.


"Given the importance of Claude-Henri Watelet's Essai sur les jardins (12774) to the history of garden design in France, it seems remarkable that it has only recently been translated into English. . . . This is a translation one can trust and a model for future work; as such, its value cannot be overestimated. . . . This edition of the Essai includes an informative introduction by Joseph Disponzio, an authority on French landscape architecture."—Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes
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