Landscapes of Taste
The Art of Humphry Repton's Red Books
By André Rogger
Routledge – 2008 – 320 pages
Humphry Repton’s Red Books have long been the subject of scholarly interest for their unique contribution to British landscape discourse around 1800. Lavishly illustrated with Repton’s own watercolours, the notorious Red Book manuscripts were used to suggest improvements to family estates all over England, Scotland and Wales.
Through detailed analysis of Repton’s working practices, André Rogger argues that the landscape gardener’s main artistic achievement is in the text-and-image concept of his Red Books, rather than in his grounds as finally executed. He presents the Red Books as artefacts in their own right, examining their creative potential as an entirely new genre of landscape appraisal.
Assembling a comprehensive and descriptive catalogue of 123 original volumes, Landscapes of Taste: The Art of Humphry Repton’s Red Books guides the reader through a fascinating part of the rich texture and legacy of Georgian landscape aesthetics.
'Beautifully produced and both a pleasure and a stimulation to read. [Landscapes of Taste] is clearly essential reading for all those interested in Repton, the Picturesque, and gardens and landscapes of the time and how they were viewed.' – Journal of the Garden History Society, Spring 2008
Acknowledgements. Foreword. Introduction Part 1: Humphry Repton in His Times 1. The Life 2. Works 3. Afterlife Part 2: Humphry Repton’s Position in the History of English Gardening 1. The View from Literature 2. The Historic Reconstruction 3. Repton’s Novel Working Tool Part 3: The Red Book as a Genre: Form and Argument 1. The Corpus 2. The Inner Structure Part 4: The Red Books in Context: Sources and Models 1. The Red Books and Modern Gardening 2. The Red Books and Travel 3. The Red Books and Drawing Part 5: Reading Landscape Between Drawing and Topography: Repton’s Key Principle of Appropriation 1. An Early Manifesto: Tendring Hall in Suffolk (1791) 2. Repton’s Appropriation Strategies 3. The Red Books’ Defence of Property Part 6: Paintings Recollected: The Fate of the Picturesque in the Red Books 1. A Practical Refutation: Attingham in Shropshire (1798) 2. Seen from a Distance: The Workings of Picturesque Beauty 3. With a Painter’s Brush: A Morphology of the Picturesque Part 7: The Rule of Taste in Repton’s work 1. Maintaining Standards: Report Concerning the Gardens at Ashridge (1813) 2. Taste as the Touchstone for Judgement 3. The Return of Art to Gardening. Appendix 1: Catalogue of Humphry Repton’s 123 Red Books. Appendix 2: Transcripts of Selected Red Books. Notes. Bibliography and Sources. Index
André Rogger is Lecturer in History of Art at the Academy of Art and Design, Lucerne (Switzerland).