Aarhus Universitetsforlag

Gardens of the Tsars

A Study of the Aesthetics, Semantics and Uses of Late 18th Century Russian Gardens

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264 pages ill.
ISBN 87 7288 557 2



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About the book

The reign of Catherine the Great (1762-1796) marks a high point in the history of Imperial Russia. Contacts with the West, begun in the days of Peter the Great (1682-1725), were intensified, and Western European art and culture pervaded the lifestyle of the Imperial court, the landed aristocracy and urban élite.

One field where Western influence was strongly felt was gardening aesthetics. The regal symmetry of French absolutism was imitated in the gardens of the great Imperial palaces.

The British garden tradition, too, found new forms of expression, abandoning the romantic lushness of the English landscape garden for a more austere use of colours better suited to the brief summers and severe winters of central Russia.

Table of contents


INTRODUCTION: Rediscovering the Gardens of the Past


Peter's Western Pattern: A Garden in the City. Flowers and Fables. Suburban Splendour
Catherine's Favourite Garden: English à la mode. Landscaping the Grounds. More Than Mere Follies
Princely Gardens: Kaleidoscopic Gardening. Muscovite Anachronisms. Powerful Optics
The Garden and the Gentry: Initial Field Exercises. Bolotov's Vision of Nature. A National Appeal


From Paradise to Mount Parnassus: Delille’s Gardens. Allusions to Arcadia. Russian Rotundas
Classical Quotations: Cameron's Archaeological Approach. Family Memorials. Import of the Vernacular
Scenes of Exotica: Chambers and Chinese Caprices. Islamic Inspirations. Exoticism in Theory
Masonry and the Middle Ages: Bazhenov's National Project. Readings and Rituals of Medieval Patterns. Russian "Gothic"


Parties and Other Pursuits: Horticulture as a Hobby or Business. The Garden as Theatre. Solitude and Eternal Rest
Poets and Promenades: Time and Twilight. Time and Death. The Garden and its Texts
Painters and Perceptions: Paintings in Gardens. Gardens in Paint. Catherine's Favourite French Painter
Political Platforms: Military Commemorations. A Nationalistic Wave. Soviet Echoes of the Tsarist Past

FINAL REMARKS: Russia's Historical Gardens Today:

Appendix: Notes on Some Russian and Soviet Gardens
Summary in Russian
List of Illustrations
Selected Bibliography
Index of Persons
Index of Places

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