A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art
History of Early American Landscape Design

Chambers (Test 1)

[http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/research/casva/research-projects.html A Project of the National Gallery of Art, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts ]

Ephraim Chambers (c.1680 – 15 May 1740) was an English writer and translator known primarily for producing the Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1728), generally considered the first modern encyclopedia. [1]

During his apprenticeship to the London bookseller, publisher, and globe-maker John Senex (d. 1740), Chambers developed a plan to create a general encyclopedia of knowledge. [2] Of the wide range of sources consulted, he later asserted: “No body that fell in my way has been spared, antient nor modern, foreign nor domestic, Christian nor Jew, nor Heathen: philosophers, divines, mathematicians, critics, casuists, grammarians, physicians, antiquaries, mechanics, have been all brought under contribution.” [3] One of Chambers’s goals was to simplify and clarify word usage — “to expunge the modern French and Italian terms in the several arts, where we have Latin and Greek ones; and even the Latin and Greek ones, where we have English or Saxon ones, equal in sound and significancy” [sic]. [4] The first edition, divided into two illustrated folio volumes, was published by subscription in 1728 with a dedication to George II. The articles appeared in alphabetical order, but Chambers adopted the novel approach of connecting them through an extensive cross-referencing system. A philosophical preface at the beginning of the first volume divided all knowledge into forty-seven separate branches and listed the articles that belonged to each. Thus, in addition to simply checking the meaning of individual words, readers could investigate subjects in a systematic manner, employing the book as “a course of antient and modern learning.” [5] The pioneering example of Chambers’s Cyclopedia influenced subsequent publications, including Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755). [6]

Chambers also produced English translations of French books on perspective, chemistry, and architecture. His Treatise of Architecture, with Remarks and Observations (1723), a translation of a work of 1714 by the French artist Sébastien Le Clerc (1637-1714), circulated in America as one of the earliest systematic studies of architectural ornament available in English. [7] Toward the end of his life, Chambers collaborated with the botanist John Martyn (1699-1768) on an English translation of the five-volume Philosophical History and Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris (1742). [8] At the time of his death, Chambers had gathered copious materials for a new edition of the Cyclopaedia, which it fell to the prolific English botanist John Hill (1714-1775) to compile in a two-volume supplement published in 1753. Hill evidently included extensive transcriptions from his own botanical writings, which led to the remark that he had “render[ed] the work rather a Gardener’s Calendar than a Supplement to a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.” [9]

--Robyn Asleson



Alley, Arbor, Arch, Avenue, Basin, Bath/Bathhouse, Bed, Beehive, Border, Bower, Bowling green, Canal, Cascade/Cataract/Waterfall, Column/Pillar, Conservatory, Copse, Edging, Espalier, Fence, Flower garden, Fountain, Gate/Gateway, Greenhouse, Grotto, Grove, Hedge, Hermitage, Hothouse, Jet, Kitchen garden, Labyrinth, Mound/Mount, Nursery, Obelisk, Parterre, Pavilion, Piazza/Veranda/Porch/Portico, Plantation, Prospect, Shrubbery, Statue, Sundial, Terrace/Slope, View/Vista, Walk, Wall, Wilderness, Wood/Woods, Yard


Cyclopaedia (1741-43), vol. 1 [10]

  • “AJUTAGE, or ADJUTAGE, in hydraulics, part of the apparatus of an artificial fountain, or jet d’eau; being a sort of tube, fitted to the mouth or aperture of the vessel: through which the water is to be played, and by it determined into this or that figure. . . ."

  • "ALLEY, * in gardening, a strait parallel walk, bordered or bounded on each hand with trees, shrubs, or the like. See GARDEN, WALK, EDGING, &tc.
"* The word alley is derived from the French word aller, to go; the ordinary use of an alley being for a walk, passage, or thorowfare from one place to another.
"Alleys are usually laid either with grass or gravel. See GRASS, and GRAVEL-Walk.
"An Alley is distinguished from a path, in this; that in an alley there must always be room enough for two persons at least to walk abreast; so that it must be never less than five feet in breadth; and there are some who hold that it ought never to have more than fifteen.
"Counter-ALLEYS, are the little alleys by the sides of the great ones.
"Front-ALLEY, is that which runs strait in the face of a building.
"Transverse ALLEY, that which cuts the former at right angles.
"Diagonal ALLEY, that which cuts a square, thicket, parterre, &c. from angle to angle.
"Sloping ALLEY, is that which either by reason of the slowness of the point of sight, or of the ground, is neither parallel to the front, nor to the transverse alleys.
"ALLEYS in Ziczac, is that which has too great a descent, and which, on that account, is liable to be damaged by floods; to prevent the ill effects whereof, it has platbands of turf run across it from space to space, which help to keep up the gravel. This last name is likewise given to an alley in a labyrinth, or wilderness, formed by several returns of angles, in order to render it the more solitary and obscure, and to hide its exit.
"ALLEY in Perspective, is that which is larger at the entrance than at the exit; to give it a great appearance of length.
"ALLEY of Compartiment, is that which separates the squares of a parterre. . . ."

  • APIARY*, bee-house; a place where bees are kept; and furnished with all the apparatus necessary for that purpose. See BEE, HIVE, BOX. &c.
“*The word comes from the Latin, apis, a bee. The apiary should be skreened from high winds on every side, either naturally or artificially; and well defended from poultry, &c. whose dung is offensive to bees. See GARDEN, HONEY &c.”

  • ARBOUR, among gardeners, &c. a kind of shady bower or cabinet, contrived to take the air in; yet keep out the sun and rain. See GARDEN.
Arbours are now gone much into disuse; being apt to be damp, and unwholesome.— They are distinguished into natural and artificial.
Natural ARBOURS, are formed only of the branches of trees, interwoven artfully, and borne up by strong lattice-work, poles, hoops, &c. which make galleries, halls, porticoes, and green vista’s naturally covered.
“The trees wherewith these arbours are formed, are usually the female elm, or Dutch lime-tree; in regard they easily yield, and by their great quantity of small boughs, form a thick brush-wood: the lower parts are filled up with horn-beam.
Artificial ARBOURS, and cabinets, are made of lattice-work, borne up by standards, cross-rails, circles and arches of iron. For which purpose they make use of small fillets of oak, which being planted and made strait, are wrought in checkers, and fastened with wire.”

Cyclopaedia (1741-43), vol. 2 [10]

  • LABYRINTH . . . among the ancients, was a large intricate edifice cut out into various isles, and meanders, running into each other, so as to render it difficult to get out of it.”

  • MOUND, a term used for a bank, rampart, or other fence, particularly of earth.”

  • MOUNT, an elevation of earth, called also mountain. See MOUNTAIN.
"The words mount and mountain are synonymous.”

  • NURSERY, in gardening, denotes a seminary, or seed-plot, for raising young trees, or plants. See SEMINARY.
“Some authors make a difference between nursery and seminary, holding the former not to be a place wherein plants are sown; but a place for the reception and rearing of young plants, which are removed, or transplanted hither from the seminary, &c. See PLANTING, TRANSPLANTION, &c.
“Mr. Lawrence recommends the having several nurseries, for the several kinds of trees: One for tall standards; viz. apples, ashes, elms, limes, oaks, pears, sycamores, &c. Another for dwarfs; viz. such as are intended for apricots, cherries, peaches, plumbs, &c. and a third for evergreens. See FRUIT.
“The nursery for standards should be in a rich, light soil.”


  1. Richard Yeo, "Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopædia (1728) and the Tradition of Commonplaces," Journal of the History of Ideas, 57 (1996), 163-64, view on Zotero; Charles W. J. Withers, "Encyclopaedism, Modernism, and the Classification of Geographical Knowledge," Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 21 n.s. (1996): 276, view on Zotero.
  2. Yeo, Richard, Encyclopaedic Visions: Scientific Dictionaries and Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 35-36, view on Zotero.
  3. Yeo, 2001, 205, view on Zotero; see also Lael Ely Bradshaw, "Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia," in Notable Encyclopedias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Nine Predecessors of the Encyclopedie, ed. Frank Kafker (Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1981), 128-133, view on Zotero.
  4. Yeo, 2001, 160, view on Zotero.
  5. Jeff Loveland, "Unifying Knowledge and Dividing Disciplines: The Development of Treatises in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica',” Book History, 9 (2006): 65-69, view on Zotero; Yeo, 2001, 132-44, view on Zotero; Terence M. Russell, The Encyclopaedic Dictionary in the Eighteenth Century: Architecture, Arts and Crafts, 5 vols. (Aldershot, England and Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1997), 2-30, view on Zotero; Withers, 1996, 282-83, view on Zotero.
  6. Gwin J. Kolb and James H. Sledd, "Johnson’s 'Dictionary' and Lexicographical Tradition," Modern Philology, 50 (1953): 181-83, view on Zotero.
  7. Janice G. Schimmelman, Architectural Books in Early America: Architectural Treatises and Building Handbooks Available in American Libraries and Bookstores (New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll, 1999), 77-78, 168, 178, 185, 196, 202, view on Zotero; Helen Park, A List of Architectural Books Available in America Before the Revolution (Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, 1973), 40, 63, view on Zotero.
  8. Yeo, 2001, 54, view on Zotero; Bradshaw, 1981, 123-24, view on Zotero.
  9. "Original Biographical Anecdotes of Ephraim Chambers," Gentleman’s Magazine, 55, pt. 2 (1785): 672, view on Zotero; see also Russell, 1997, 125n, view on Zotero; “The Life of Mr. Ephraim Chambers,” Universal Magazine, 76 (1785): 3, view on Zotero.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, or An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. . . ., 5th edn, 2 vols. (London: D. Midwinter et al, 1741) view on Zotero
A Project of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts

National Gallery of Art, Washington