ITALIAN RENAISSANCE GARDEN
FSP lll sem
The Italian Renaissance garden was a new style of garden which emerged in the late
15th century at villas in Rome and Florence, inspired by classical ideals of order and
beauty, and intended for the pleasure of the view of the garden and the landscape
beyond, for contemplation, and for the enjoyment of the sights, sounds and smells of
the garden itself.
In the late Renaissance, the gardens became larger, grander and more symmetrical,
and were filled with fountains, statues, grottoes, water organs and other features
designed to delight their owners and amuse and impress visitors.
The style was imitated throughout Europe, influencing the gardens of the French
Renaissance and the English garden.
Or in practical, A Renaissance Garden is a place for retreat from a hectic world.
It’s for pleasure and peace.
It’s for wandering, pottering and contemplating.
Any practical elements such as vegetables, fruit and herbs are woven into the
garden design so they appear ornamental.
Italian renaissance gardens originate from the 15th century in Italy, where proud
villas with luxurious and extravagant gardens told the tale of a life centered on
leisure and prosperity.
The few who lived in these magnificent villas and roamed these fascinating
gardens were fortunate during the time of the plague, usually avoiding it entirely.
The Italian renaissance garden innovated the art of gardening as well as the
architecture of waterways.
During this period of experimentation and invention, the owners of the villas
commissioned architects to build special pipes that would create fountains with
continuously flowing water.
Prior to the Italian Renaissance, Italian Medieval gardens were enclosed by walls,
and were devoted to growing vegetables, fruits and medicinal herbs, or, in the
case of monastery gardens, for silent meditation and prayer.
The Italian Renaissance garden broke down the wall between the garden, the
house, and the landscape outside.
The Italian Renaissance garden, like Renaissance art and architecture, emerged
from the rediscovery by Renaissance scholars of classical Roman models.
Influences and Principles of the Gardens
The Italian renaissance gardens had many guiding influences and principles.
The Roman gods and goddesses were inspirations for commissioned artwork
displayed in the gardens.
Domestic and wild animals influenced the shapes of topiaries.
The entire landscape of the garden was meant to be practical as well as
Unlike medieval gardens, the renaissance garden was not the secluded area
specifically for growing herbs and vegetables.
It was made a part of the landscape of the home, complimenting the house
instead of being hidden from view.
The ancient Roman garden's depicted in artwork and literature were a major part
in the inspiration for such gardens.
According to Leon Battista Alberti, some of the principle aspects of a Renaissance
garden included an area for shade, climbing vines and topiaries, evenly spaced
trees, rare plants, marble columns, vases, and statues.
The first Renaissance text to include garden design was De Re Aedificatoria ('The
Ten Books of Architecture'), by Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472).
He described what a garden should look like and how it should be used.
He argued that a villa should both be looked at and a place to look from; that the
house should be placed above the garden, where it could be seen and the owner
could look down into the garden.
Alberti wrote: "The construction will give pleasure to the visitor if, when they leave
the city, they see the villa in all its charm, as if to seduce and welcome the new
arrivals. Toward this end, I would place it on a slightly elevated place. I would also
have the road climb so gently that it fools those who take it to the point that they
do not realize how high they have climbed until they discover the countryside
MAGNIFICIENCE OF RENAISSANCE GARDEN
While the early Italian Renaissance gardens were designed for contemplation and
pleasure with tunnels of greenery, trees for shade, an enclosed giardino
segreto (secret garden) and fields for games and amusements, the Medici, the
ruling dynasty of Florence, used gardens to demonstrate their own power and
During the first half of the sixteenth century, magnificence came to be perceived
as a princely virtue, and all over the Italian peninsula architects, sculptors,
painters, poets, historians and humanist scholars were commissioned to concoct a
magnificent image for their powerful patrons.
Whether it be from the inspiration of the ancient Greek and Roman, Medieval or
Islamic - Italian Renaissance gardens are soaked in myth, tradition and history.
Italian Renaissance Gardens evolved from many sources, in particular the Arab
garden traditions although Islamic symbolism was given a Christian interpretation.
The other major influence was a revival of interest in the cultures of antiquity, and
the Renaissance designers constantly tried to emulate and surpass the ancient
Greek and Roman achievements.
This included accommodating antique sculptures or copies of antique figures like
the copy from a mould of the original 5th century Capitoline wolf with Romulus
and Remus in the Italian garden.
Renaissance gardens were also an evolution of the Medieval garden and many of
the elements from that earlier era were retained such as the high surrounding
walls, flat square beds with edges lined with plants, beds of simples, flowery
meads, and the arched trellis work.
The major difference in the Renaissance gardens was the introduction of a strong
central axis and the discovery of linear perspective as a link between the main
buildings and the different portions of the garden.
Gardens became separated into compartments that could be
named, enclosed, and hidden to create an unfolding sequence of spaces.
The axis organized and unified the whole composition.
Geometry was seen as a reflection of a divine and cosmic order and a lot of
Renaissance study was focused both on trying to find geometric patterns in nature
and then trying to recreate this codified order in architecture, art, town planning
Art and science were strongly linked and a study of proportion and the human
figure created a framework for a classical order of
perspective, proportion, symmetry, and geometric forms, circles and triangles.