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What was it about?
Created in the early18th century, the Landscape Movement was a concept propagated by many professionals including artists, philosophers, poets and scientists (Szilágyi 176). According to Szilágyi, the movement was about the gentle rolling water and hills planned against a backdrop of woodland with assemblies of trees in the locale (177).
It was inspired by the Dutch landscape paintings done in the 16th and 17th century. The movement developed to include shrubs and perennial plants sweeping in a painterly design with meandering gravel alleyways.
Who was behind the movement?
There were four key figures who were considered the fathers of the landscape movement. These were: William Kent, 1685-1738, Humphrey, Repton, 1752-1818, Charles Bridgeman, 1690-1738 and Lancelot Brown, 1716-1783 (Langmead and Garnaut 109).
William held the belief that the landscape should be motivated by nature, but should at the same time match the built environment, while Lancelot brought in the idea of replacing the geometric structures with rolling lawns and panoramic views to create the illusion of a bigger landscape (Langmead and Garnaut 109).
What caused the movement?
The Landscape Movement was driven by several factors. The first one was Louis XIV’s death in 1715 as it encouraged English people to abandon the French style and way of life. According to Harmer, the Englishmen were tired of what they called “foreign influence” and wanted change (par. 12).
Secondly, with change in social attitudes, the modern gardens were no longer people’s preference. English people were tired of the congested and polluted urban environment and preferred a landscape that would provide them with a serene environment, full of fresh and clean air (Harmer par. 3).
There was, therefore, the need for new landscapes that would satisfy these requirements hence people embraced the idea of the English landscapes whole-heartedly. Finally, formal gardens were more costly and required intensive care and maintenance. Hence, it was more convenient for the people to adopt the English landscapes because these gardens were cheap and required minimal maintenance practices (Harmer par. 15).
How widespread was the movement? What was its influence?
The movement took place in England, hence its name ‘the English Landscape Movement’, and had several influences on the people who embraced it. People were more interested in open-air entertainment and the English landscapes gave them the ideology that the beauty of nature should not be consumed wholly at once, but should be something that unfolds with time as people gradually enjoy it (Szilágyi 183).
Besides, the movement provided a space for exercise, which encouraged the English people to engage more in extra-curriculum activities. The movement also influenced people to take walks in the nature while chatting. It is very boring to stay indoors especially in the wet weather, which is mostly experienced in England. The landscapes thus provided people with the opportunity to break the boredom and explore the romance in nature even during the cold weather.
Further, the movement influenced people to embrace the air of romance and mystery (Harmer par. 14). The landscapes gave a feeling of privacy and intimacy, but were also mysterious at the same time, because people did not know what else to expect as they walk in the garden. The gradual revealing of the garden intensified the mystery and made it exciting for people to be surrounded by such an aura.
Harmer, Stephen. “The English landscape movement.” Notre Jardins Historique 2013.
Langmead, Donald and Garnaut, Christine. Encyclopedia of Architecture and Engineering Feats. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2001. Print.
Szilágyi, Kinga. “The Evolution of English Picturesque Landscape Garden to Urban Public Park.” First International Conference “Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in Transylvania” Agriculture and Environment Supplement (2011): 176-187. 2014.