The Bard Graduate Center is celebrating the work of William Kent, whose skilful and artistic hand designed much of Georgian Britain’s buildings, garden landscapes and furniture, with a small exhibition; and last night (Oct 31 Thu) Magda Salvesen, the garden and art historian at NYU who is the curator of her late husband the prominent painter Jon Schueler’s works, gave a lengthy, step-by-step slide tour on Rousham Garden titled Sitting in and Sauntering through a Pleasure Ground.
Kent is the man of whom Walpole said, he “was a painter, an architect, and the father of modern gardening. In the first character he was below mediocrity; in the second, he was a restorer of the science; in the last, an original, and the inventor of an art that realizes painting and improves nature. Mahomet imagined an Elysium, Kent created many.”
As Salvesen wrote in her flyer “the landscape at Rousham in Oxfordshire offers not only “still” views, but continually shifting perspectives. Walking through the varied topography where the cultivated and natural landscape intermingle, visitors experience the plantings while registering the lightness of the designer’s touch and his embrace of historic allusions in the structures and the sculpture.” She focused on Kent’s innovations of the late 1730s but also drew upon his other garden designs, highlighting similarities as well as significant departures.
Prize guide to North East gardensSalvesen is the author of the unique Exploring Gardens and Green Spaces: From Connecticut to the Delaware Valley (Norton 2011), the handy but handsome full review of 148 gardens along the northeast corridor of the US, including formal parks, estates and arboretums. Prettily laid out and lavishly illustrated on glossy stock with more than 300 photographs and 29 maps, the guide’s detailed entries equip the visitor not only with Savesen’s expert writeup of each viewing destination but provide all the data you will need, including nearby places to eat and visit, to round out a day’s outing.
The Kent exhibition is in the BGC Gallery at 18 West 86th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.