Histoire culturelle de l'Europe

Katrina Grant

The Bosco Parrasio as a site of pleasure and of sadness



La présente contribution considère la façon dont le jardin « Don Bosco Parrasio », où se réunissaient les membres de l'Académie des Arcades de Rome, était non seulement un lieu d'évasion agréable, mais aussi un lieu de nostalgie et de deuil. Cela se voit dans la conception des espaces physiques : chaque lieu concret du « Don Bosco Parrasio » servait à présenter les lapidi di memoria – les mémoriaux d’Arcadiens défunts – et comportait souvent de l'imagerie funéraire. On le voit également dans la poésie écrite pour être interprétée lors des réunions tenues dans ce jardin, qui remémoraient souvent des membres défunts, des amis ou des membres de leur famille. On en retrouve la trace dans l’évocation poétique que fait Crescimbeni de l'Académie et de ses activités dans son livre L'Arcadia paru en 1708. Le présent article explore les représentations du jardin arcadien comme lieu de mélancolie, de deuil et de nostalgie et illustre l’idée que l’évocation de ce paysage « hors du temps » comme espace de mélancolie est un exemple de nostalgie à saisir non pas comme paralysante (comme on le lit souvent), mais comme un ingrédient essentiel du changement culturel.


This paper considers the way in which the garden, the « Bosco Parrasio », in which members of Rome’s Arcadian Academy met was not only a place of pleasurable escapism, but also a place of longing and mourning. This can be seen in the design of physical spaces – each real site that hosted the « Bosco Parrasio » was required to display the lapidi di memoria – memorials to departed Arcadians, and often included funerary imagery. It is also found in the poetry written to be performed at those garden meetings, which often memorialised departed members, friends, or family. And, it is threaded through Crescimbeni’s poetic imaging of the Academy and its activities in his 1708 book L’Arcadia. This paper will explore those depictions of the Arcadian garden as a site of melancholy, mourning and nostalgia and explore the idea that the evocation of this ‘timeless’ landscape as a space for melancholy is an example of nostalgia not as stultifying (as we often read it), but, as a necessary ingredient in cultural change.

Texte intégral

1On a summer evening in 1689, so the story goes, fourteen learned men were gathered in a field near the Castel Sant’Angelo1. They were engaged in an enthusiastic discussion of matters both literary and scientific, but they were also in mourning. Those men were amongst the many intellectuals in Rome who were feeling the loss of Queen Christina of Sweden, who had died earlier that year. At the queen’s death her Academy, the Accademia Reale – that had promoted discussion of ideas and hosted performances of poetry and music – had been suspended2. Without this academy, which had become the focus for intellectual and cultural life in Rome, their souls – so the story continues – were ‘affatigate’ (weary) of the stressful preoccupations of life in the city and at court. On that day gathered in the open air, seated on the ground, the poet Agostino Maria Taja declared : « It seems we have restored Arcadia here today ». That evening the group decided they should found a new Academy and call it the Accademia dell’Arcadia to maintain the spirit of the simple rustic meeting where the idea had been conceived3. This academy would renew intellectual studies and rediscover the ‘innocent habits’ that had been practiced by the Arcadians of the antique world. They named the departed Queen as their patron. The following year, on October 5, 1690 (the birthday of Queen Christina), the fourteen founding members headed by Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni – who was to be the Academy’s custode until his death in 1728 – officially instituted the ‘Ragunanza degli Arcadi’, in the garden of the Padri Reformati behind San Pietro in Montorio4.

2The Arcadian Academy grew rapidly in membership over the following decades and was to play a central role in the cultural and artistic life of not just Rome, but across the Italian peninsula5. The members wished to recover the heritage of Rome’s golden centuries, to encourage a balance between nature and reason, and, between imagination and intellect, and, above all, to promote ‘buon gusto’6. They sought to drive change in the intellectual landscape, but this change looked backwards, focused on nostalgia for a lost golden past, as much as it looked forward. They sought to return poetry to its classicist origins, reclaiming it from the excesses of Baroque poets like Giambattista Marino whom they despised for his over-reliance on elements like surprise and sensuality. Instead, they believed poetry should seek a balance between poetic invention and verisimilitude. They believed members – whether poets by profession or not – should write and perform poetry in order to develop good taste and erudition. From this simple beginning the Arcadian Academy became a central focus of the cultural and intellectual life of early eighteenth-century Rome. It would go on to spawn a series of colonies across Italy and still exists today as the Accademia Letteraria Italiana.

3The story of the Academy’s foundation, which could be described as their ‘founding myth’, is, presumably, a blend of fact and fiction, carefully crafted to capture key elements of the Arcadian Academy’s raison d’être. The story emphasises specific places, actions, and emotions ; the place was outside in uncorrupted nature and the emotions were a sort of contentedness at escaping court and city life, but tempered by sadness and nostalgia. The natural surroundings could be described as ‘in Rome’ but not ‘of Rome’, the official account described the original field as « one of those places that Rome concedes7 ». The story suggests it is only in this place that the group was able to begin the process of renewing intellectual endeavours, a renewal that looked back towards the classical past. The members of the Arcadian Academy believed that reform and renewal required a return, as much as was possible, to the roots of humanity, to a time of innocence and simplicity8. The gardens in which they met (there were many sites until the mid 1720s) were known as the ‘Bosco Parrasio’ and were not simply places of pleasurable escapism and sociability, but regarded as places of contemplation and commemoration. This can be seen in the design of the physical spaces and it is also found in the poetry written to be performed at their meetings, which often memorialised departed members, friends, or family. These ideas are also threaded through Crescimbeni’s poetic imagining of the Academy and its activities in his 1708 book L’Arcadia.

4Although the idea of the garden as a place for melancholy and reflection is one that is common in our current thinking, many of these ideas derive from the transformation of garden design and use during the eighteenth century – the rise of Romanticism, the idea of the sublime in the experience of nature, neo-gothic idealisation of the excitement and terror of the wilderness, and, the emergence of burial sites set within landscaped sites – all these post-date the Arcadian Academy9. The gardens designed in early eighteenth-century Rome for the Arcadians are therefore fascinating precursors to an idea of the garden that would become increasingly popular over the following century. That ‘Arcadian’ approach to the garden seems to have emerged as a result of the confluence of several factors : a revival of interest in the idea of Arcadia as the ‘home of poetry’ ; the tradition of the use of gardens as a site for poetic performance by intellectual academies, and, a culture of commemorating the memory of dead friends and contemporaries as ‘uomini illustri’.

The Arcadian Garden

5Amongst the many Italian academies that existed across the peninsula during the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Accademia degli’Arcadi placed a new emphasis on the ‘place’ of the meetings10. Earlier academies had often held their philosophical debates within a villa or its gardens11. The Villa Medici at Careggi, near Florence, was the site for many meetings of learned humanists including the Platonic Academy that met under the leadership of Marsilio Ficino, who stated that villa life cultivated the soul as well as the fields. Several academies underlined the links between learning and nature that could be traced back to Plato’s Grove of Academe12. The humanist Poggio Bracciolini in a letter of 1427 called his garden at Terranuova in the Val d’Arno the ‘Accademia Valdornina’ in emulation of Cicero’s villa at Tusculum, which had in turn been inspired by Plato’s academy13. The garden of Angelo Colocci, a humanist at the court of Pope Leo X, on the Pincio in Rome was a place where his friends would gather to study ancient literature, discuss philosophy and hold poetry reading competitions14. Colocci’s friend and colleague at the papal court, Hans Goritz, owned a garden in Rome, near the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius, where he would assemble groups of learned men15. While the sculptural decoration and descriptions of these gardens often implied associations with Mount Parnassus and the Muses those sites were not specially designed as or specifically re-cast as a quasi-imagined locales16. The meeting place of the Arcadians, in contrast, was meant to be understood as the Parrhasian Woods or ‘Bosco Parrasio’, the sacred grove of Apollo located on Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia in Ancient Greece, for the duration of the meetings. In his history of the Academy, written in 1712, Crescimbeni states that it was decided that public meetings should be held seven times a year in a wood or field which they would imagine was the Bosco Parrasio (’siccome si finge’)17. In winter the meeting sites were indoors and were described as ‘capanne de’Pastori’ or shepherd’s huts. In reality they were the palaces and houses of members based in Rome.

6From the outset the Arcadians stipulated that most of the meetings they held (especially those during the warmer months) should be held outside in this ‘Bosco Parrasio’. Members were given a pseudonym as pastori or pastorelle when they joined the academy and some were allotted a plot of land in ancient Arcadia, both these practices reinforced the importance of the ‘location’ in which their activities took place. When members arrived they would shed their day-to-day identities – names and titles – and be referred to by their Arcadian names only18. For the first thirty-six years of the Academy’s existence the Roman Bosco Parrasio had no fixed address19. But, neither did it exist solely as an ‘idea’. The Arcadians required a real place to meet and in these first decades the Bosco Parrasio was any place where they met that displayed the Arcadian stemma. This could be a room in a palace, and during the summer months it was usually outside in a garden. Each site required the following, which were provided with a greater or lesser degree of permanence : some sort of theatre where they could perform poetry and stage debates ; a place to display the Arcadian laws, or leges ; the Arcadian stemma ; and a place to display the lapidi di memoria – memorials to departed Arcadians20. The Arcadians met up to nine times a year for business, literary performance and for conversazione, and they also held special events, such as the Giuochi Olimpici, or gatherings to celebrate achievements of members or mark significant events21.

7Initially, the site itself was less important than the place it represented (as Crescimbeni writes « qualche bosco o campo »)22, there was no fixed meeting point from the time of its founding in 1690 until the permanent site was opened in 1726 on the Janiculum. The Academy met in various gardens around Rome, including the Farnese gardens on the Palatine, and the Ginnasi garden on the Aventine23. Design was still important. We know that several gardens which the Arcadians used as meeting sites over several years included small theatres and displays of the Arcadian stemma that were semi-permanent garden fixtures. For instance, a Pier Leone Ghezzi drawing of the Bosco Parrasio at the Orti Farnesiani (Fig. 1) shows a circular theatre, made up of low stepped seats and in the centre is a representation of the Arcadian stemma – the pan pipes. On the wall behind, topped with a balustrade used as a seat by several figures, is another version of the stemma24. Those sites – from the open field where the academy was first conceived to the wood (‘selve’) where they formally created the Academy behind San Pietro in Montorio, and the various incarnations of the Bosco Parrasio in gardens around Rome – were woven into the history of the Academy and were central to its image.

View of the Bosco Parrasio at the Orti Farnesiani

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Pier Leon Ghezzi, ‘View of the Bosco Parrasio at the Orti Farnesiani’

Biblioteca Angelica, MS 2136, fol. 164. Reproduced courtesy of il Ministero per I Beni e le Attività Culturali / Biblioteca Angelica.

Arcadian Commemoration

8Alongside the performance of literary compositions, another focus of the meetings that quickly came to be important was the commemoration of deceased members. Plaques were hung in the ‘Bosco Parrasio’ in the Orti Farnesiani as early as 1699, and the writings of Crescimbeni, and those of other Arcadians, demonstrate that this commemoration was central to the mission of the academy. When Michel Giuseppe Morei wrote his life of Crescimbeni for Le vite degli Arcadia illustri (1751) he devoted considerable space to recounting Crescimbeni’s efforts to record and preserve the memory of the mancati (lost) Arcadians25. Morei writes that Crescimbeni planned the commemoration both out of ‘universale amore’ for his fellow men and because he wanted to secure the glory of those who had earned it through their works26. Morei records the methods of commemoration as follows :

In three volumes, that he had begun under the title « Historic Notes on the dead Arcadians », he collected short accounts written by various authors about the lives of all those Shepherds up to that point who had passed away. […] he invented the plaque, that those cherished shepherds had wanted to raise, in marble, in the Parrhasian Woods to record the name of an Illustrious Arcadian, who in life had earned much-deserved honour27.

9Morei records that Crescimbeni subsequently decided that the life of the ‘illustre’ should be written first and from this would follow the rest of the honours including the lapide (a type of commemorative headstone or stone plaque) and a portrait to be added to the collection that was eventually stored in the serbatoio. In addition to this structured approach, the lives and achievements of past members were frequently celebrated in poems performed in the Bosco Parrasio. Crescimbeni records that the first lapida was displayed at a Bosco Parrasio hosted by the Duke of Parma at the Orti Palatini (the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine Hill). As illustrated in the Ghezzi drawing discussed above, Crescimbeni described the Farnese Bosco Parrasio as consisting of a ‘boschereccio Teatro’ (sylvan theatre) with two rows of seats made from earth, a version of the Arcadian stemma cut from ‘mortella’ (presumably box hedge), the ‘Leggi’ were engraved in marble (just visible in the Ghezzi drawing in the centre of the wall behind the theatre), and the first lapida di memoria was placed in memory of the famous Francesco Redi by the Custode of Arcadia (this is not clearly represented in the drawing, but Ghezzi does mention it in the description)28. Both Crescimbeni’s and Ghezzi’s description make it clear that the lapidi were a central focus in these small-scale gardens. The lapidi as objects and the act of memorialisation of deceased pastori became key visual and performative aspects of all the iterations of the Bosco Parrasio.

10Two ink sketches preserved amongst the archives of the Academy at the Biblioteca Angelica in Rome appear to record Crescimbeni’s ideas for different designs of the Bosco Parrasio29. Both sketches show an atypical approach to the design of garden space, and not just because Crescimbeni’s sketches are rough and approximate, but because of the focus on mourning or commemorative imagery. The first, a sketch from around 1705, shows a circular space, surrounded by what are presumably stepped seats (similar to those in the final Bosco Parrasio built on the Janiculum Hill) (Fig. 2)30.

Giustiniani Bosco Parrasio

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Giovanni Maria Crescimbeni (?), ‘Giustiniani Bosco Parrasio’

Biblioteca Angelica, Arcadia MS. 16, fol. 402r. Reproduced courtesy of il Ministero per I Beni e le Attività Culturali / Biblioteca Angelica.

11Surrounding this circular theatre are pyramids alternating with columns crowned with small, smoking, pyres. The drawing suggests that affixed to each pyramid was an engraved plaque, the lapidi, recording the memory of departed members of the academy. This design is dominated by funerary imagery, pyramids, pyres and memorial plaques. We find in Crescimbeni’s writings an account of a meeting at the palace of Principe Vincenzo Giustiniani that seems to match this sketch. He writes that :

In July 1705 the Giuochi Olimpici were celebrated in the Garden of Principe Vincenzo Giustiniani ; and for this there was made a temporary, but beautiful Theatre with more benches, covered with green tapestries : it was circular in form ; and it was ringed by many Pyramids, of around twenty palmi31 high, made from wood covered with greenery and wreaths of flowers : upon each of these pyramids was placed one of the Lapidi di memoria, that, as already mentioned, were erected at this meeting to those illustrious deceased members ; and, it was from this first occasion that the Giuochi Olimpici began to be a celebration of the memory of the dead Arcadians, a custom which continues32.

12This construction was clearly substantial, the nine pyramids that encircled benches were several meters high. Everything was covered in green fabric to create the illusion, presumably, of being within a verdant theatre. If the Crescimbeni drawing does relate to this event (which seems almost certain) then we can assume that there may also have been columns topped by what appear to be either pyres, or perhaps more greenery. The booklet produced to commemorate the event, I Giuochi Olimpici celebrati in Arcadia nell'Olimpiade DCXXI, mentions the assistance of several prestigious members in the erection of this temporary theatre, « Signori Cardinali Rubini, Pignatelli, Panfilio, e Ottoboni33 ». Several of these patrons, namely Pamphili and Ottoboni were at the time maintaining their own personal theatres, as well as sponsoring productions in other theatres in Rome, so it seems plausible that they may have put their own resources at the disposal of the Academy for this event34.

13Both the booklet and Crescimbeni’s various descriptions of this Giuochi in his subsequent writings, make it clear that the focus of this event was the memorialisation of the dead. The booklet records the setting, the poems recited, details of each inscription from the lapidi in Latin and explained in Italian, along with a narrative description of how the event unfolded. Crescimbeni’s sketched design for the event is fascinating as it offers an insight into a type of ephemeral construction for an academic event that is rarely recorded in visual records of the Academy35. His conception for the Bosco Parrasio theatre is unusual in the tradition of garden designs of the period in Italy. It seems likely the idea for the verdant theatre drew upon the tradition of the ‘teatri di verzura’ or hedge theatre, examples of which were found across central Italy and were often closely associated with poetic performance for intellectual academies36. Crescimbeni was likely aware of the hedge theatres of Lucca, which were designed to mimic contemporary wing theatres but constructed using topiary techniques. These theatres were closely associated with the Lucchese Accademia degli Oscuri, with the Villa Garzoni at Collodi near Lucca, including both a ‘teatri di verzura’ and a poets’ grove. Members of the academy, such as the poet and librettist Francesco Sbarra, composed sonnets and madrigals addressing the gardens themselves. In Rome too, there are clear antecedents, the classically inspired theatre for ‘intellectual pursuits’ planned for the Villa Madama by Raphael, though never built37. And, the amphitheatre, still extant, that was constructed around ‘Tasso’s Oak’ on the Janiculum in 1619, intended for use by the Oratorians as a place to recite sermons and hold discussions38.

14What marks Crescimbeni’s design as unusual, however, is the dominance of the pyramids set in a circle. The pyramid had a long tradition as a feature of funerary designs. Cesare Ripa in his Iconologia includes pyramids as a symbol of the « alta Gloria de’ Principi » noting that this tradition stretched back to the tombs of Ancient Egypt39. In Rome, the pyramidal mausoleum of Caius Cestius (built in the first century BCE) was a key landmark in Rome and included inscriptions carved into its sides. Similarly, the Meta Romuli, a Roman-era pyramid, was traditionally represented as a pyramid (with or without a base) and despite its destruction in 1499 it was depicted in several sources that would have likely been well known to Crescimbeni, such as Étienne Dupérac’s Large Map of Ancient Rome published in 157440. There were other tombs in Rome in the form of pyramids, such as that illustrated by Pirro Ligorio on the Via Asinaria in the Anteiquae urbis, which must also have been known to Crescimbeni through his own close studies of ancient and early Christian sites in and around Rome41. Although there are examples of pyramidal forms in garden design in the seventeenth century, such as the Pyramid fountain at Versailles, the iconography of those seems clearly based on the promoting an image of Glory rather than one of commemoration of the dead.

15Crescimbeni’s other writings offer further insight into the design. In particular his book L’Arcadia (1708) which describes the journey of a group of nymphs and poets from the Bosco Parrasio to Mount Elide, the site of the Olympic Games. The book reads like a story of a mythical narrative for the origins of the Academy. This text is a useful source for understanding what Crescimbeni (and the other early Arcadians) wanted the Academy to be. Sabrina Norlander Eliasson, for instance, has noted that the book promotes themes of sociability, cultural transfer, and an abhorrence of rigid social distinctions and appears to promote Crescimbeni’s dream of « uniting the world under a pastoral flag42 ». Crescimbeni’s text also sets out a clear imagining of what ‘being in Arcadia’ meant for the members of the academy. His vision draws upon a long tradition of imagining Arcadia that goes back at least to Jacopo Sannazaro’s Arcadia (1504), widely regarded as the book that revived and reimagined the idea of Arcadia for Early Modern Europe. In it Sannazzaro presented a view of Arcadia that highlighted contentment and melancholy and presented it as a place of escape from the norms and customs of everyday life. Crescimbeni mentions this text on more than one occasion. In the preface to his own book L’Arcadia, he tells the reader, for example, that he deliberately chose to give it the same name as Sannazzaro’s, suggesting that it was central to shaping his own idea of Arcadia in Rome43. Several themes emerge that are mirrored in Crescimbeni’s later text. For example, the theme of mortality and its inevitability is set into contrast with the cycle of nature. This circular rhythm is mirrored by the pattern of the Arcadian shepherds’ gatherings, their « ritualistic activities – exchanges of song, poetry, contests, commemorations44 ». In the sixteenth century – well before the conception of Rome’s Bosco Parrasio – Arcadia was conceptualised as a theatrical space for staged encounters between conflicting views and contrasting ideologies voiced and enacted by those performing as shepherds and their visitors. Often when gardens are considered as Arcadias it is primarily in terms of the pleasurable aspects of the place : Arcadia as a site of escape ; Arcadia as a site for simple pleasures ; Arcadia as a place of rustic entertainment, and so on. But, some of the oppositions thrown up in these texts and others between pleasure and sadness, carefree life and responsibility, simplicity and complexity, and between life and death, deserve closer attention. The fact that Crescimbeni’s L’Arcadia is explicitly linked with an actual garden (or really a series of gardens) makes it ideal as a candidate for closer scrutiny of these oppositional relationships.

16L’Arcadia reveals the importance of memorialisation, mourning and commemoration in the activities of the Arcadians and directly relates these to specific forms, which are also found in Crescimbeni’s designs for the meeting spaces. In the opening pages we read that the ‘gentile brigata’ (the protagonists of the story are a group of nymphs and shepherds) has reached the Bosco Parrasio and there follows a description of its form :

[...] the middle of the Bosco was laid out in the form of a woodland Theatre, where the Shepherds had been in the habit of coming together from all parts of Arcadia to hold virtuous meetings, and to pass the monotony of the hot months in light-hearted song and fruitful discussion45. The Theatre is in a circular form, it is very big, as much as is possible to still comfortably hear the voices. It has two tiers of seats simple and rustic, but beautiful, and delightful, being covered in fragrant Myrtle and green Laurel intertwined together. This place was also made more venerable by the magnificent Pyramids that have been raised here to the memory of the famous dead Arcadians : which the Nymphs subtly looked upon, and ran from here to there to read the inscriptions that were engraved upon them46.

17In this depiction of the ‘teatro’, the act of memorialisation is situated alongside the activities of ‘lieti canti’ and ‘fruttuosi ragionamenti’. As is made clear in the footnote in Crescimbeni’s own text, this ‘teatro’ is based exactly upon the one erected at the Giardino Giustiniani in 1705. This presence of the ‘real’ in the narrative is a constant throughout the text. In Crescimbeni’s narrative the travelling nymphs and poets encounter a series of real members of the Roman cultural world in their guise as Arcadian shepherds and have discussions about their areas of expertise – they meet the painter Carlo Maratta (Disfilo Coriteo) and discuss painting and classical mythology, they meet the composer Arcangelo Corelli (Arcomelo Erimanteo) and hear the beautiful music he has composed in the hut of the famous shepherd ‘Crateo’ (Cardinal Ottoboni, the patron of Corelli), they meet Selvaggio (Francesco Bianchini, a librarian and historian) who shows them antique medals. They also discuss Roman aqueducts, cures for fever, and join in hunts and dances. The imagined place of the narrative is Arcadian Rome ; it is both Rome but it also is not (recalling the site of the founding of the Academy outside the walls of Rome, not in Rome, but of Rome). It could be read either as a narrative layer set upon the city itself, so the travellers move through Rome, but imagining they are elsewhere, or, that the people and places of Rome have been transported to the antique and mythic site of Arcadia. The way these activities are described in Crescimbeni’s book are suggestive of how he wished the Arcadians would behave in the Bosco Parrasio, and how the academy would function as a nexus for sociability and intellectual discussion. Members would share and admire each other’s expertise, they would take part in activities that were serious and intellectual as well as pleasurable and light-hearted, and, they would take time to honour and reflect upon the achievements of the dead.

18In this imagining of Rome as Arcadia it is in the Bosco Parrasio that the pastori and nymphs gather to remember the dead. To return to the description of the 1705 Giuochi in his introduction to the event Crescimbeni explicitly mentions the ‘tombs’ that surround them calling on the ‘generosi Pastori’ assembled to participate with their usual fervour and to honour with their song :

the memory of our past members, and especially the glorious Tombs, which you see here surrounding us, and which you yourself have adorned, and strewn with foliage, and flowers, think, that some of the illustrious Names, which you here read carved in marble, they were in this Wood, and they took part in these same Games ; and now for their honour they are placed, by those assemblded, amongst the Heroes47.

19The published record of the Giuochi describes an event dedicated to memorialisation. Following a list of the inscriptions on the lapidi, each of which is translated and explained in Italian, the various ‘Giuochi’ are recorded, each of these consisted of recitations, poems, and madrigals, most of which focus upon the memory of a past member, including one on the death of Queen Christina (‘In Morte di Basilissa’). In the opening ‘Giuoco’ the pastore, Cleandro Elideo (Carlo Albani, nephew of the Pope Clemente XI), urges the assembled Arcadians to remember the dead not with tears but with « voci risonati d’applauso48 ». The poems that follow focus on memory and memorialisation of the ‘defunti Arcadi’ and are frequently closely linked with nature, including ideas of metamorphosis and sonnets dedicated to dead members that describe their transformation into doves, clouds, hyacinths and so on49.

20A second design held in the Arcadian archives at the Biblioteca Angelica shows another variation on the garden as a site of memorialisation and performance. This design, as Susan Dixon has pointed out, has strong similarities to the permanent Arcadian garden that would be constructed on the Janiculum in 1726 and is likely an early idea for the site by Crescimbeni50. The design shows a garden presumably designed for a sloping site, two staircases flanking a central area designed as a series of terraces with fountains. Along each terrace runs a low wall or balustrade topped with urns, small obelisks and trapezoidal sarcophagi, small blank squares on each are probably illustrations of the lapidi that would be affixed to them. At the top of the slope is the usual circular theatre, and behind it a circular temple (likely intended to be the serbatoio, the structure planned as a store for the Academy’s records). Again, the focus on memorialisation is clear, those rows of small tombs set within a garden are unusual, if not unique, for the time51.

Plan for the Gianicolo Bosco Parrasio

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Giovanni Maria Crescimbeni (?), ‘Plan for the Gianicolo Bosco Parrasio’

Biblioteca Angelica, Arcadia MS. 35, fol. 3v-4r. Reproduced courtesy of il Ministero per I Beni e le Attività Culturali / Biblioteca Angelica.

21In the mid 1720s the Arcadians were able to build a permanent home on the Janiculum Hill. The funds for the site and the garden were provided by their patron, John VI of Portugal. The garden was designed by Antonio Canevari, with substantial input from Crescimbeni. The garden is closed by a large gate beyond which winding stairs disappear up the hill. The intended visitor had to traverse a series of curved staircases, ascending the hill to reach the theatre. On the one hand the steps are a necessity for a sloping site, but they also force the visitor to ascend a hill – to make a choice as it were to undertake the work of moving upwards in order to reap the rewards of reaching the top of the garden (a common motif in garden design – you must climb the hill to gain the reward)52. Presumably for the Arcadians this upwards movement also helped to symbolise ‘moving away’ from their day-to-day identities – as they moved up the staircase they would encounter sculpted representations of the inhabitants of the Bosco Parrasio like Pan and representations of learning like Minerva and see (and likely stop and reflect) on memorials to past members. Upon the opening of the permanent Bosco Parrasio in 1726 Crescimbeni records that there were forty-two lapidi of defunti Pastori53.

The idea of Arcadia and the emergence of the garden as memorial

22In early modern Italy there tended not to be a strong association between gardens and emotions like sadness, melancholy or mourning. The garden was more generally presented as a site of pleasure, and it is this aspect that has generally been picked up in garden history of the period. Michel Conan, in his call to extend the ways in which garden history is written, has asked « Is there nothing more to be said about garden reception than this vague quest for a sense of pleasure54 ? » He goes on to point out that the association of pleasure with gardens has tended to undermine the discipline of garden history itself, by making it and its practitioners appear frivolously engaged in something that while ‘nice’ it is ultimately an art that allowed no « critical reflection […] and invites only indulgence in aesthetic contemplation and a paradisiacal reverie55. » At the Villa Barbarigo at Valsanzibio in the Veneto (constructed between 1665 and 1696) a poem was carved into the steps that led the visitor toward the villa. The poem greeted the « curious » traveller and told them that they would discover « here, a place of rare beauty, a place where all is Nature, and nothing is Art (in other words all is real and nothing is man-made. » The poem continues :

Here the sun casts his rays with greatest splendour ; here Venus comes from the sea with the greatest beauty ; here the moon’s movements are most bright ; here Mars’s fury cannot enter to disturb.

Here Saturn does not devour his offspring ; here Jove shows favour, and his face is calm ; here Mercury loses all his guile. Here tears have no place but laughter rules ; here the Court’s thunder does not sound56.

23The expected emotional experience of the visitor is clearly stated. This is a place where the things that give one pleasure – beauty, the sun, the moon, laughter, and, sensual love embodied by Venus – are dominant. Negative emotions such as rage, sadness and the stress of daily life at court are stripped of their power. The garden space is presented as a place that is a retreat from courtly life ; it is the place that balances out the negative emotions of daily life.

24Yet, it is not entirely true that garden design and experience was focused only on pleasure in this era ; there are examples of garden reception from the era that record other emotions beside pleasure. For example, the traveller Francis Mortoft, on seeing the sculptural group of Niobe and her dying children in the Villa Medici in Rome in 1659 observed that :

These fifteen statues are made so well, the mother representing grief so much to the life, and the children representing the passions of dying Persons, that it will bring grief and sorrow into any person’s hart that looks upon them57.

25The Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo is another such site, with its tempietto dedicated to the memory of the wife of the garden’s creator, Vicino Orsini58. At the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Bernardo Buontalenti’s Grotta Grande, as argued by Hervé Brunon, was intended to evoke in the viewer sensations of both pleasure and terror, images of a terrestrial paradise where man and beast lived in harmony, where juxtaposed with imagery that alluded to floods and earthquakes59.

26While the popular narrative around gardens in Early Modern Italy tended to focus on pleasure, the reception of gardens was also informed by a range of representations and discussions of landscape found in art, literature and theatre. Chief among these in seventeenth-century Italy was the tradition of the pastoral. The pastoral included stories that often invoked Arcadia and its associated sites and with it a more complex range of emotional responses to the experience of being ‘in nature’, from pleasure to longing, sadness, and, a type of melancholy. In Panofsky’s seminal essay « ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’. Poussin and the Elegiac Tradition », he describes, in reference to Poussin’s two Et in Arcadia Ego paintings, a twofold lesson present in these pastoral compositions60. He suggests that they act both as a warning against « a mad desire for riches at the expense of the more real values of life » and « against a thoughtless enjoyment of pleasures soon to be ended61 ». Panofsky argues that Poussin develops this theme from a traditional memento mori subject into an idea of Arcadia as a place in which its inhabitants, its pastori, are « immersed in mellow meditation on a beautiful past », one which elicits thoughtfulness, intellectual consideration and a « sympathetic » melancholy62. These readings of the paintings were current in the latter part of the seventeenth century with the biographer and antiquarian Giovanni Pietro Bellori describing Poussin’s painting as « Happiness subject to death » and identifying this depiction of Arcadia as the « poetical expression of a moral concept » that was intended to prompt the recollection of death in the midst of prosperity63. More recently, Claire Pace has pointed to the likelihood that Poussin’s vision of Arcadia drew on poetry, and on the tradition that Rome itself as a site had close links to Arcadia, with Romulus and Remus as it shepherd founders, and the shepherd king Evander, the first settler of the Palatine Hill, was understood to be an exile from Arcadia itself64. Although we do not find a huge number of gardens denoted specifically as Arcadia in seventeenth-century Italy (the exception is Vicino Orsini’s Bomarzo which Sansovino himself visited)65 the idea and the ideal of it as a place, and what it represented (a retreat from courtly life, nature as a trigger for wisdom and contemplation, and the stoic idea that man could retreat from the demands of daily life into nature) is ever present in the literature of the period66. It seems plausible that Poussin’s landscapes both drew on and fed this ideal of nature in mid-seventeenth century Rome. Indeed, Poussin’s ‘Landscape with Ruins’ (1642), which shows a landscape with a figure pointing up a road flanked by funerary monuments scattered in an Arcadian landscape was in the collection of the painter Carlo Maratta, a member of the Arcadian Academy67. Pierre Rosenberg, has described this painting as a « landscape of memory » in the tradition of « antiquarian views » made of Rome in this period and it seems likely that images like this, if not the Arcadian Shepherd paintings themselves, would have helped to shape Crescimbeni’s idea of the ideal Arcadian landscape68.

27Also significant for Crescimbeni’s vision for the ideal Bosco Parrasio is the tradition of memorialisation of worthies, patrons, and friends and the links between this and the antiquarian interests of many intellectuals associated with the Arcadian Academy. There was a long tradition of collecting series of portraits and written accounts of ‘uomini illustri’ in Early Modern Italy. A key precursor to this Arcadian endeavour is the collection of 200 portraits displayed in the palace of the intellectual, collector and antiquarian Cassiano dal Pozzo69. As Caterina Volpi has explored, these collections were not simply focused on the past, but were intended to make the dead part of the present moment ; they were a celebration of the living and the commemoration of the dead. This ‘conversation’ between the living and the dead, as represented by collections like Dal Pozzo’s, was a central aspect of the development of academic debates about the ‘best’ of culture between the antique and the modern eras70. There are also examples of such galleries of ‘illustri’ in academic gardens, from small academies such as that by Bracciolini through to larger gardens in later centuries71. In the era of the Arcadians, the architect, set designer and member of the Academy (acclaimed in 1712 as Bramanzio Feesseo), Filippo Juvarra created a series of sketches of memorial monuments of illustrious persons from his circle. Although they were begun in the 1730s, the focus on members of his Roman circle (where he resided for about 10 years from 1704) suggests that it was the milieu of Arcadian Rome that likely influenced the creation of this series72. The sketches are clearly not intended as designs for real tombs (many were long dead) but as a gallery of significant figures portrayed through the medium of architectural tombs. Juvarra stipulated that he only designed memorials for people he had known, and the collection seems in equal parts a celebration of friendship and an act of memorialisation of his own life, not through his works but through his associations. His claim that he wished to present the « uomini più insigni di questo secolo » that he had known « per memoria del loro grande nome73 », echoes Crescimbeni’s own desire to commemorate his associates both out of love and from a desire to ensure that those who had earned respect through their works were not forgotten.

28The creation of monuments to illustrious contemporaries set within a garden also suggest the importance of the antiquarian tradition in the formation of Arcadian ideals. In L’Arcadia Crescimbeni makes frequent mention of the discovery of tombs by his ‘gentile brigata’ of nymphs and shepherds ; in the Bosco Parrasio there are the inscriptions that the nymphs race about the garden to read (mentioned above) ; on the banks of the Po they meet the Procustode (Giulio Cesare Graziani) and see the sepulcher of Phaeton and his grieving sisters transformed into trees ; they discover an inscription celebrating the life of ‘Jasiteo’ (the Arcadian Raffaello Fabbretti) and they discover a beautiful sepulchral urn dedicated to the Basilissa (Queen Christina)74. Tombs to the recently deceased lie in this landscape alongside those of long dead figures from classical mythology. The role of monuments and inscriptions in preserving memory and generating discussion about the past is made clear in Crescimbeni’s narrative, and in the importance of antiquarian thinking in this vision seems clear. Rome had long been a primary site for antiquarian endeavors, from Pirro Ligoro in the sixteenth century, to Cassiano dal Pozzo in the seventeenth. By 1700 there was strong interest in intellectual circles in the significance of historical material evidence for understanding and engaging with the past, an approach that was often set in opposition to accounts of the past based on texts75. Francesco Bianchini, who was admitted to the academy in 1691, wrote in his La Istoria Universale (1697) that his text was based on « the evidence of monuments » (« provata con monumenti ») and argued that archaeological evidence was far superior to written texts76. In this context Crescimbeni’s designs for the Bosco Parrasio, especially those for the more permanent space, and his attention to the composition of the inscriptions in the style of antique Rome, seem to be designed with an eye not only to the present, but also to the future, to a time when future poets and intellectuals would discover the inscriptions recording the ‘illustri’ of the academy and reflect upon its role in recapturing the golden age of poetry77. In the final Bosco Parrasio Rome was a constant presence. Perched upon the slopes of the Janiculum hill the academicians would enter into a secluded natural setting and then climb through the garden to the theatre where they would sit in the presence of one of the most impressive panoramas of the city78. In this setting, the Bosco Parrasio became a clear physical manifestation of the academy’s link between ancient Rome and its mythic Arcadian past, and modern Rome.

Memorialisation, melancholy, and change

29The Arcadian fusion of the tradition of commemoration and the place of Arcadia as a site of memorialisation and the use of the garden as a site for intellectual gatherings, produced something wholly new. In one sense the Bosco Parrasio stands, as it still does in Rome, as a peculiarity in the history of garden design. More intimate than the villa garden, more poetic than other small orti. It is classicising and draws on antiquarian imagery, as the gardens of Rome had for several centuries, but the persistent representation of these garden spaces, by Crescimbeni and the broader Academy, as Arcadia and as sites for reflection and remembrance are strongly echoed in the designed landscapes that begin to appear over the course of the eighteenth century, with a new focus on commemoration, as at Stourhead’s Temple of British Worthies, to mourning and melancholy, as at Rousseau’s tomb on the île des Peupliers79.

30The Arcadian Academy had an impact not only on poetic reform and cultural life, but also on the emerging idea that gardens could be a site of melancholy, sociable reflection, and commemoration. Sabrina Norlander Eliasson in her study of the Arcadians, notes that they sought to keep poetical language free « from excess and complicated metaphors that were, according to the Arcadians, hard on the reader. Surprise and wonder were definitely not highly ranked80 ». In these designs we see the same is true of their gardens. Instead of displays of magnificence and features that triggered wonder, shock and delighted surprise (such as ‘scherzi d’acqua’), which had dominated garden design in Rome over the past centuries, the spaces conceived by the Arcadians gardens are more sober, designed to trigger contemplation and reflection. They remained places of performance, but the focus is on reflection and on linking the present with the past. The Bosco Parrasio existed as a timeless space ; it was simultaneously cast as a recreation of ancient Arcadia, as a contemporary site for social interaction, and as an imagined future where visitors could discover the memorials of the recently dead as though they were ancient tombs in an old landscape. The construction of this place of memory, motivated by their longing for a lost golden age, led Crescimbeni and the Arcadian Academy to create a new type of landscape that invited viewers to engage in contemplation and reflection and an experience of the garden that sat between pleasurable escapism and a melancholy mourning for what was lost.


1 The research in this study was first presented at a symposium at the University of Melbourne organised by Lisa Beaven and Mark Seymour. I would like to thank them and the participants for their feedback which helped to spur the research in new directions, in particular Charles Zika, Robert Gaston and David Marshall. Initial research for this paper was funded by a Melbourne Rome Scholarship, hosted by the British School at Rome.

2  On the queen’s academy see Christian Gottfried Franckenstein, Istoria degli intrighi galanti della regina Cristina di Svezia e della sua corte durante il di lei soggiorno a Roma, Rome, Palombi, 1979.

3  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., p. 219.

4  Id., Storia dell'Accademia degli Arcadi istituita in Roma l'anno 1690 per la coltivazione delle scienze, delle lettere umane e della poesia, Londres, Bulmer, 18, p. 5-8 (written in 1712).

5  The Arcadian Academy and its importance to the visual arts as well as literature has been re-appraised over recent years. The most important study is that by Susan M. Dixon, Between the Real and the Ideal. The Accademia Degli Arcadi and Its Garden in Eighteenth-century Rome, Newark, Delaware Press, 2006, which gives a comprehensive history of the Academy’s formulation. Earlier studies of the Bosco Parrasio and other garden seats of the Arcadians include Alessandro Rinaldi, « Viaggio al Bosco Parrasio. Arcadia Attraverso i Giardini Romani », in Giuseppe Morganti (dir.), Gli Orti Farnesiani sul Palatino, Rome, École Française de Rome / Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma, 1990, p. 485-504 and Daniela Predieri, Bosco Parrasio un Giardino per l'Arcadia, Modène, Mucchi Editore, 1990. On the influence of the Arcadians on the visual arts see Lilliana Barroero / Stefano Susinno, « Arcadian Rome. Universal Capital of the Arts », in Edgar Peters Bowron / Joseph J. Rishel (dir.), Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, Philadelphie, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000, p. 47-77, on architecture see Vernon Hyde Minor, The Death of the Baroque and the Rhetoric of Good Taste, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 97-114.

6  On the academy’s poetic agenda see Robert S. Freeman, Opera without drama. Currents of change in Italian opera, 1675-1725, Ann Arbor, UMI Research Press, 1981.

7  The exact site is not named, the Nolli map from 1748 shows the Castel Sant’Angelo surrounded by private vigne so it was perhaps one of these where they met, see Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1730, p. 219, « luoghi deliziosi, che Roma concede a’suoi felici Abitatori ».

8  This Janus-like character of the organisation, which looked back and forward, has been discussed in the context of the period in Susan M. Dixon, op. cit., p. 12-14 and Christopher M. S. Johns, Papal Art and Cultural Politics. Rome in the Age of Clement XI, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 24-25, 124.

9  See, for example, Jacky Bowring, Melancholy and the Landscape. Locating Sadness, Memory and Reflection in the landscape, Abingdon, Routledge, 2017.

10  On these academies see Michele Maylender, Storia delle Accademie d'Italia, Forni, Sala Bolognese, 1976-1981 and also Jane E. Everson / Denis V. Reidy / Lisa Sampson (dir.), The Italian Academies 1525-1700. Networks of Culture, Innovation and Dissent, Abingdon, New York, Routledge, 2016.

11  Cf. Terry Comito, « Renaissance Gardens and the Discovery of Paradise » in Journal of the History of Ideas, 32e année, n° 4, 1971, p. 483-506 and David R. Coffin, The Villa in the Life of Renaissance Rome, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 11. Coffin gives the example, amongst others, of Bracciolinis dialogue De Avaritia set at a vigna near the Lateran in Rome, and two others De Nobilitate and Historia Convivalis set in his own property at Terranuova. Also see recently Denis Ribouillault, « Hortus academius. Les Académies de la Renaissance et le jardin », in Michaël Jakob (dir.), Des jardins et des livres, catalogue d’exposition, fondation Bodmer, Genève, 29/04-9/09/2018, Genève, Mètis Press, 2018, p. 23-34.

12  Cf. Terry Comito, « The Humanist Garden », in Monique Mosser / Georges Teyssot (dir.), The Architecture of Western Gardens. A Design History from the Renaissance to the Present Day, Cambridge (Massachusetts), The MIT Press, 1990, p. 37-44, and Eugenio Battisti, « Natura Artificiosa to Natura Artificialis », in David R. Coffin, The Italian Garden, Washington, Dumbarton Oaks, 1972, p. 1-36.

13  Cf. David R. Coffin, op. cit., 1979, p. 10.

14  Cf. Elisabeth MacDougall, « The Sleeping Nymph. Origins of a Humanist Fountain Type », in The Art Bulletin, 57, n° 3, 1975, p. 357-365.

15  Domenico Gnoli, « Orti letterari nella Rome di Leon X », in Nuova antologia, n° 269, 1930, p. 3-19 and p. 137-148.

16  David R. Coffin, op. cit., 1979, p. 9-13.

17  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, Storia dell'Accademia degli Arcadi istituita in Roma l'anno 1690 per la coltivazione delle scienze, delle lettere umane e della poesia, 1712 (first published Bulmer, London, 1804), p. 6.

18  A full list of the members is in Anna Maria Giorgetti Vichi, Gli Arcadi dal 1690 al 1800. Onomasticon, Rome, Arcadia - Accademia Letteraria Italiana, 1977.

19  For a useful overview of the Arcadian Academy’s structure and meetings see Susan M. Dixon, op. cit., 2006, p. 19-24. See Susan M. Dixon also for her detailed history of the different Bosco Parrasio and the design of the final garden p. 54-82. For the laws, practices and operations of the Academy as mostly documented in the various writings of Morei and Crescimbeni, see in particular Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1804.

20  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, Stato della basilica diaconale, collegiata e parrocchiale di s. Maria in Cosmedin di Roma nel presente anno 1719, Rome, Antonio de' Rossi, 1719, p. 127.

21  Susan M. Dixon, op. cit., 2006, p. 23.

22  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1804, p. 6.

23  There were seven meeting spots between 1690 and 1626, see Susan M. Dixon op. cit., 2006, p. 54-64 and Daniela Predieri, op. cit., 1990, p. 39.

24  The drawing is in the Biblioteca Angelica, the accompanying description makes it clear that the drawing was made after 1726 when the Academy had moved to the Janiculum and that it recalls an earlier incarnation of the Bosco Parrasio. Biblioteca Angelica, MS 2136, fol. 164.

25  Michel Giuseppe Morei, Le vite degli Arcadia illustri scritte da diversi autori, e pubblicate d'ordine della generale adunanza da Michel Giuseppe Morei custode d'Arcadia. Parte Quinta., Rome, Antonio de’ Rossi, 1751, p. 372.

26  « Questa idea gli su somministrata da quell’universale amore, che verso di ognuno senza distinzione nudriva; ma il conoscimento, che aveva degl’altrui meriti gl’aveva prima di ciò fatto pensare ad assicurare la gloria di chi con maggior fatica, e più degna opere se l’era guadagnata. » Ibid.

27  « Raccolta in tre Tomi, che diede in luce sotto il Titolo di Notizie Istoriche degl’Arcadi morti un succinto racconto scritto da vari Autori della vita di quanti Pastori erano fin a quel giorno all’Arcadia mancati. […] ciò aveva egli inventata una lapida di memoria, che qualche affezionato Pastore volesse di marmo innalzare nel Bosco Parrasio al nome di qualche Arcade Illustre, che in vita un tanto onore meritato si fosse. » Ibid.

28  The following quotes are all taken from Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1719, p. 127. But, similar (sometimes identical) descriptions are found in other publications, such as Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1804, p. 8-9. Ghezzi’s description on MS 2136, fol. 164 reads ‘anche presentemente vi si vede una lapida grande segniata in mezzo con l’impresa della detta Arcadia segniata.’

29  It is not clear if these sketches are by Crescimbeni but they are certainly amongst his papers, they are clearly drawn by an inexpert hand, and he seems the most likely candidate.

30  Biblioteca Angelica, Rome. Atti Arcadi, MS 16, c240v.

31  Approximately 4.5 metres.

32  « Celebre poi ella nel mese di Luglio 1705, I Giuochi Olimpici nel Giardino del Principe D. Vincenzo Giustiniani ; e per quella funzione fece un finto, ma assai vago Teatro di più ordini di panche coperte di panni Arazzi di color verde: la forma del quale era ritonda; ed era attorniato da molte Piramidi, d’altezza circa venti palmi, fabbricate di legnami coperti di verzura, e di trecce di fiori: in ciascuna della quali era collocata una delle Lapidi di memoria, che, come si è detto, soglionsi alzare da questa Adunanza a ‘suoi illustri Defunti; ed allora la prima volta incominciarono a celebrarsi questi Giuochi alla memoria de ‘morti Arcadi, il qual costume tuttavia continua. » Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1730, p. 336.

33  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, I Giuochi Olimpici, Celebrati in Arcadia nell’Olimpiade DCXXI, Antonio de’ Rossi, Rome, 1705, p. 13.

34  On Ottoboni’s theatre see Maria Letizia Volpicelli, « Il Teatro del cardinale Ottoboni al Palazzo della Cancelleria », in Il Teatro a Roma nel Settecento, Rome, Istituto della Enciclopeda Italiana, 1989, p. 681-782, and on Pamphilj see Daria Borghese, « Cardinal Benedetto Pamphilj and Roman society », in Stephanie C. Leone (dir.), Pamphilj and the arts, Boston, Mass., McMullen Museum of Art, 2011, p. 139-150.

35  The visual records we have of the various meeting sites tend to record mainly the circular meeting spot, often with only one or two occupants, though in some cases they record a proper meeting or ‘adunanze’ of the academy, see, for examples, Susan M. Dixon, op. cit., 2006, p. 58, 64.

36  Katrina Grant, « Hedge Theatres of Lucca », in David R. Marshall (dir.), Art, Site and Spectacle, Melbourne, Fine Arts Network, 2007, p. 172-173.

37  Margherita Azzi Visentini, L'Arte dei Giardini: Scritti Teorici e Pratici dal XIV al XIX Secolo, Milan, Edizioni il Polifilo, 1999, p. 207-216.

38  Vincenzo Cazzato / Maria Adriana Giusti, « Teatri di Verzura in Italia », in Vincenzo Cazzato Marcello Fagiolo and Maria Adriana Giusti, Teatri di Verzura La scena del giardino dal barocco al novecento, Florence, EDIFIR, p. 95-148.

39  Cesare Ripa, Iconologia, Venise, Cristoforo Tomasini, 1613, p. 247-248.

40  David R. Marshall, « Piranesi, Juvarra, and the triumphal bridge tradition », in Art Bulletin, 85e année, n° 2, 2003, p. 321-352.

41  Christopher M. S. Johns, op. cit., 1993, p. 124.

42  Sabrina Norlander Eliasson, Portraiture and social identity in eighteenth-century Rome, Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press, 2009, p. 112.

43  Crescimbeni discusses Sannazzaro in his Dell’Istoria della Volgar Poesia and describes him as the perceived inventor of the Pastoral Eclogues « l’Egloga Pastorale si crede inventata da Iacopo Sannazzaro » (he goes on to identify earlier precursors). He also refers to Sannazzaro in the preface (« L’Autore a chi legge ») of Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, L’Arcadia, Rome, Antonio de’Rossi, 1708, as « il Maestro Toscano delle cose Pastorali ».

44  Marsha S. Collins, Imagining Arcadia in Renaissance Romance, New York, Routledge, 2016, p. 61.

45  Here Crescimbeni includes the footnote, « Forma del Teatro che avevano gli Arcadi l’anno 1705 nel Giardino Giustiniani », Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1708, p. 6.

46  « in mezzo del Bosco si stende in forma di boschereccio Teatro, ove la state sogliono i Pastori concorrere da tutte le parti d’Arcadia a tener virtuose adunanze, e passare la noia della calda stagione in lieti canti, e in fruttuosi ragionamenti. È il Teatro in forma ritonda, e tanto vasto, quanto possano comodamente sentirsi le voci. Ha egli due ordini di sedili semplici, e rusticani, ma vaghi, e deliziosi, essendo tutti vestiti d’odorosa Mortella, e di verde Lauro insieme intrecciati. Rendono poi venerabile questo luogo le spesse magnifiche Piramidi, che alla memoria de ‘famosi defunti Arcadi con bell’ordine ivi sono innalzate: alle quali le Ninfe subitamente diedoro d’occhio, e chi di quà, e che di là corse a leggere l’inscrizioni, che v’erano incise », Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1708, p. 5-6.

47  « la memoria de'nostri passati, e spezialmente le gloriose Tombe, che qui d'intorno vedete, e che voi medesimi avete ornate, e sparse di fronde, e fiori, pensate, che alcuni degl'illustri Nomi, che ivi leggete scolpiti in marmo, furono gia in questo Bosco, e tra questi Giuochi, lo stesso, che voi siete; ed ora per li loro meriti sono dall'Adunanza collocati tra il numero degli Eroi », Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1705, p. 20.

48  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1705, p. 24.

49  Ibid., p. 75-104.

50  Susan M. Dixon, op. cit., p. 65-66 and see discussion in Vernon Hyde Minor, « Arcadia e Bosco Parrasio », in Cristina Ruggero (dir.), La forma del pensiero. Filippo Juvarra: la costruzione del ricordo attraverso la celebrazione della memoria, Rome, Campisano, 2008, p. 19.

51  See the brief discussion in Cristina Ruggero, « La costruzione del ricordo : dagli Uomini Illustri alle Memorie Sepolcrali di Filippo Juvarra », Cristina Ruggero, op. cit., 2008, p. 24. One precursor that should be acknowledged are the collections of ancient inscriptions displayed in the fifteenth-century Roman gardens of Pomponio Leto, which included some funerary inscriptions, and the garden of Cardinal Colonna, which included a tomb with an inscription, but the emphasis here was more on investigation the inscriptions as antique texts and not on commemoration as such ; Cf. Kathleen Christian, « Landscapes of Ruin and the Imagination in the Antiquarian Gardens of Renaissance Rome », in Michel Conan (dir.), Gardens and Imagination. Cultural History and Agency, Washington D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2006, p. 117-137.

52  See Susan M. Dixon for further discussion on the symbolism of the stair in the Bosco Parrasio, Susan M. Dixon, op. cit., p. 65-68.

53  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1730, p. 345.

54  Michel Conan, « Methods and Perspectives for the Study of Gardens and their Reception », in Michel Conan, op. cit., 2008, p. 3.

55  Id., Performance and appropriation. profane rituals in gardens and landscapes, Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2007, p. 13.

56  Inscription from Valsanzibio, translation in Lionello Puppi, « The Giardino Barbarigo at Valsanzibio », in Journal of Garden History, 3e année, n° 4, 1983, p. 281-300.

57  Francis Mortoft, Francis Mortoft. His Book, being his travels through France and Italy 1658-1659, London, The Hakluyt Society, 1925, p. 121.

58  Jessie Sheeler, The Garden at Bomarzo. A Renaissance Riddle, Londres, Frances Lincoln, 2007, p. 117-122.

59  Hervé Brunon, « Du Songe de Poliphile à la Grande Grotte de Boboli. La dualité dramatique du paysage », in Polia, Revue de l’art des jardins, n° 2, 2004, p. 7-26.

60  Both versions (Chatsworth House, c1629 and the Louvre, c1638-40) are also often referred to as The Arcadian Shepherds.

61  Erwin Panofsky, « ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’. Poussin and the Elegiac Tradition », in Donald Prezoisi (dir.), The Art of Art History. A Critical Anthology, New York, Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 257-62.

62  Erwin Panofsky, op. cit., 1998, p. 258.

63  Giovanni Pietro Bellori, The Lives of the Modern Painters, Sculptors and Architects, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 329.

64  Claire Pace, « ‘Peace and Tranquility of Mind’. The Theme of retreat in Poussin's Landscapes », in Pierre Rosenberg / Keith Christiansen (dir.), Poussin and Nature. Arcadian Visions, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art / Yale University Press, 2008, p. 79-80.

65  John B. Bury, « The Reputation of Bomarzo », in The Journal of Garden History, III, n° 2, 1983, p. 108-112, see p. 108-109 on Sansovino’s dedication of Arcadia to Orsini.

66  Winfried Schleiner, Melancholy, genius, and utopia in the Renaissance, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz, 1991, p. 223.

67  Maratta, known as Disfilio Coriteo, features prominently in Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1708, p. 129-141.

68  Pierre Rosenberg, « N. Poussin. Landscape with an Ancient Tomb », in Pierre Rosenberg / Keith Christiansen, op. cit., p. 220-221 n° 40.

69  See the account of this history in Cristina Ruggero, op. cit., 2008, p. 19-23.

70  Caterina Volpi, « I ritratti di illustri contemporanei della collezione di Cassiano dal Pozzo’ », in Francesco Solinas (dir.), I segreti di un collezionista. Le straordinarie raccolte di Cassiano dal Pozzo, 1588-1657, Museo del Territorio Biellese, Rome, 2001, p. 70.

71  See for example David R. Coffin, Gardens and Gardening in Papal Rome, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1991, p. 233-234.

72  Cristina Ruggero, op. cit., 2008, p. 157.

73  As quoted in Andrea Merlotti, « Lo stemma, il rango e la memoria del cavaliere don Filippo Juvara, architetto », in Cristina Ruggero, op. cit., 2008, p. 100.

74  Giovanni Mario Crescimbeni, op. cit., 1804, p. 5, 6.

75  On this see Peter Burke, « Images as Evidence in Seventeenth-Century Europe », in Journal of the History of Ideas, 64e année, n° 2, 2003, p. 273-296, and Arnaldo Momigliano, « Ancient History and the Antiquarian », in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 13e année, n° 3/4, 1950, p. 285-315.

76  Bianchini as quoted in Burke, op. cit., 2003, p. 286. It should be noted that Crescimbeni himself was engaged as historian and chronicler of the Early Christian monuments of Rome, see the exploration of the links between paleochristianity and the Arcadians in Christopher M. S. Johns, op. cit., 1993, p. 124.

77  This idea of creating monuments to a future past has been explored in the French context in Robert Wellington, Antiquarianism and the Visual Histories of Louis XIV, Farnham, Ashgate, 2015, p. 14-15.

78  This is captured in several images, such as one by Jonas Åkerström in the Nationalmuseum in Sweden, which shows a meeting of the Arcadian Academy in the Bosco Parrasio in 1788 (see Jonas Åkerström , ‘Accademia dell'Arcadia håller sammankomst den 17 augusti 1788’, Nationalmuseum Sweden, Inv No. NMTiD 1423).

79  On the connection with Stourhead see Cristina Ruggero, « La costruzione del ricordo. Dagli Uomini Illustri alle Memorie Sepolcrali di Filippo Juvarra », in Cristina Ruggero, op. cit., 2008, p. 26 sq. Rousseau’s tomb see Michael Calder, « Promenade in Ermenonville », in Martin Calder (dir.), Experiencing the Garden in the Eighteenth Century, New York, Peter Lang, 2006, p. 109-144.

80  Sabrina Norlander Eliasson, op. cit., 2009, p. 107.

Pour citer ce document

Katrina Grant, «The Bosco Parrasio as a site of pleasure and of sadness», Histoire culturelle de l'Europe [En ligne], Prochains numéros, Jardin et mélancolie en Europe entre le XVIIIe siècle et l’époque contemporaine, Jardin et création littéraire : "setting", topos, métaphore,mis à jour le : 12/11/2019,URL : http://www.unicaen.fr/mrsh/hce/index.php?id=1254

Quelques mots à propos de : Katrina Grant

Katrina Grant is an art historian and a lecturer in digital humanities at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on gardens and the history of landscapes in Early Modern Europe, the visual culture of theatre and festivals, the use of GIS and visualisation technologies for art historical research, and, the critical evaluation of new digital and practice-led methodologies for art history and visual culture research. She is also engaged in a number of collaborative teaching and research projects with cultural institutions that engage students, researchers, curators and education staff in developing innovative new approaches to investigating, sharing, and teaching with cultural heritage collections.