Developments in landscape gardening continued throughout the Eighteenth century, moving away from formally structured gardens.
The leading exponent of the 'Naturalist' school was landscape designer Capability Brown whose work we have seen in this group read (on Jan's link).
Brown abhorred straight lines and level areas. His work was typified by curved paths, undulating grassy areas.
Around 1800, even newer picuresque features were introduced by people modernising gardens and pleasure grounds.
Such 'improvements'-an ambivalent term in Jane Austen's work- included the addition of dramatic features such as artificial waterfalls, hillocks and imported craggy rocks often in imiatation of admired landscapes, such as the bandit-ridden Italian terrrains.
This is the style mockingly reffered to by Edward Ferras.
In Ch. 18 Edward appears to enjoy himself with some satirical comments on the pictuesque, gently teasing of Marieanne on 'taste' in landscape;
'You must not inquire too far Marieanne- remember, I have no knowledge of the picturesque, and I shall offend you by my ignorance and want of taste, if we come to particulars. I shall call hills steep, which ought to be bold ! surfaces strange and uncouth which ought to be irregular and rugged; and distant objects out of sight which ought only to be indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere....' (ch.18)
Marieanne calls Edward's attention to Barton valley 'be tranquil if you can'. (ch.16)
He agrees it is beautiful country yet comments on dirty bottoms in winter. My impression is Edward admires merely landscapes of agricultural prosperity- scenery which Gilpin disliked in Devon.
'I call it a very fine country- the hills are steep, the woods seem full of fine timber, and the valley looks comfortable and snug-with rich meadows and several neat farm houses scattered here and there. It exactly answers my idea of a fine country, because it unites beauty with utility- and I daresay it is a picturesque one too, because you admire it; I can easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories, grey moss and brushwood, but these are all lost on me. I know nothing of the picturesque'.
Hmmm. I wonder if Edward does understand picturesque ideals ! Elinor maybe right Edward affects less discrimination in admiring the beauties of nature than he possesses.
Persons of taste, anxious to discover the English countryside, were eager to draw and collect prints and tour counties. In 1794, Gilpin laid down rules for the appreciation of the picturesque, such as 'picture imagination' for scenes.
The Dashwood sisters and Edward were probably all aware of the pretentious nature of aesthetic theory to varying degrees.
I wonder who was closer to Jane Austen's particular views on the picturesque, Marieanne or Edward.
However, the picturesque movement produced some beautiful works in English art. The idea was not to create an exact production of natural landscape but for artists to arrrange a compostion as they saw it. According to Gilpin, the picturesque was distinguished by 'roughness and ruggedness' as in the bark of a tree or the craggy side of a mountain. Ideas which appear to have influenced late Eighteenth-century artist Turner.
Below is a link to an essay and paintings in picturesque style in Europe and England in the C18th and C19th. You can scroll down and enlarge the pictures.