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History of Early American Landscape Design

Difference between revisions of "Hermitage"

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==History==
 
==History==
  
A hermitage was a garden structure built to  
+
A hermitage was a garden structure built to suggest the reclusive and primitive habitation of a hermit. British and American garden treatises generally recommended that a hermitage be built of crude or unfinished materials such as thatch, rough-hewn stone, or mud bricks and raw wood. They often were built to resemble a natural feature such as a cave, or a “hollow tree,” according to Bernard M’Mahon (1806) and John Abercrombie and James Mean (1817). In order to enhance the effect, a hermitage could be built into a hillside or surrounded by dense planting [Fig. 1]. The outside cladding might have been made of earth with a live grass roof. If the entire building was covered with live material, it was sometimes called a “moss house.” Both A. J. Downing (1849) and James E. Teschemacher (1835) used this term in describing rustic garden structures covered with moss.1  
suggest the reclusive and primitive habitation  
 
of a hermit. British and American garden  
 
treatises generally recommended that a  
 
hermitage be built of crude or unfinished  
 
materials such as thatch, rough-hewn stone,  
 
or mud bricks and raw wood. They often  
 
were built to resemble a natural feature  
 
such as a cave, or a “hollow tree,” according  
 
to Bernard M’Mahon (1806) and John Abercrombie  
 
and James Mean (1817). In order to  
 
enhance the effect, a hermitage could be  
 
built into a hillside or surrounded by dense  
 
planting [Fig. 1]. The outside cladding might  
 
have been made of earth with a live grass  
 
roof. If the entire building was covered with  
 
live material, it was sometimes called a  
 
“moss house.” Both A. J. Downing (1849) and  
 
James E. Teschemacher (1835) used this  
 
term in describing rustic garden structures  
 
covered with moss.1  
 
  
The hermitage was particularly associated  
+
The hermitage was particularly associated with the idea of retirement, meditation, or escape from daily life, and, therefore, often was found in an isolated part of the garden. British author Thomas Whately warned that its location should not be “close to a road,” a recommendation that American writer Bernard M’Mahon reiterated when he prescribed “some retired or private situation” as appropriate for a hermitage. Eliza Southgate’s experience of the hermitage at the Elias Hasket Derby Farm in Peabody, Mass., which she visited in 1802, suggests the depth of melancholy one might have experienced upon entering such a retreat. Lewis Miller’s sketch and poem convey a similar sentiment of solitude.  
with the idea of retirement, meditation, or  
 
escape from daily life, and, therefore, often  
 
was found in an isolated part of the garden.  
 
British author Thomas Whately warned that its  
 
location should not be “close to a road,” a recommendation  
 
that American writer Bernard  
 
M’Mahon reiterated when he prescribed  
 
“some retired or private situation” as appropriate  
 
for a hermitage. Eliza Southgate’s experience  
 
of the hermitage at the Elias Hasket  
 
Derby Farm in Peabody, Mass., which she visited  
 
in 1802, suggests the depth of melancholy  
 
one might have experienced upon entering  
 
such a retreat. Lewis Miller’s sketch and poem  
 
convey a similar sentiment of solitude.  
 
  
The hermitage could also be whimsical in  
+
The hermitage could also be whimsical in its effect, providing a note of exotic eclecticism often desired in a pleasure garden. An advertisement for André Parmentier’s design services (1826) lists the hermitage with other picturesque garden features that included Chinese, Turkish, French, Dutch, and classical pavilions.  
its effect, providing a note of exotic eclecticism  
 
often desired in a pleasure garden. An  
 
advertisement for André Parmentier’s  
 
design services (1826) lists the hermitage  
 
with other picturesque garden features that  
 
included Chinese, Turkish, French, Dutch,  
 
and classical pavilions.  
 
  
The interior of a hermitage might have been  
+
The interior of a hermitage might have been as crudely decorated as the exterior, although two other options have been recorded. Abercrombie recommended ornamenting the interior walls with shells, which was a conventional reference to an underworld or grotto-like environment (see Grotto). Alexander Pope’s grotto at Twickenham, near London, England (1720), was a famous example of this kind of wall treatment. A more dramatic decorating option was taken at the German religious community garden in Economy, Pa. (c. 1825), where the interior of such a structure was highly finished and refined in a neoclassical style with plaster moldings and blue, gold, and white surfaces, resulting in a surprising contrast with the rustic exterior.2 The size of hermitages ranged from a multi-room building, such as the example from Gray’s Garden in Philadelphia, to the little “hut” described by Eliza Southgate at the Elias Hasket Derby Farm.  
as crudely decorated as the exterior, although  
 
two other options have been recorded.  
 
Abercrombie recommended ornamenting the  
 
interior walls with shells, which was a conventional  
 
reference to an underworld or grotto-
 
like environment (see Grotto). Alexander  
 
Pope’s grotto at Twickenham, near London, England (1720), was a famous example of this  
 
kind of wall treatment. A more dramatic decorating  
 
option was taken at the German religious  
 
community garden in Economy, Pa. (c. 1825),  
 
where the interior of such a structure was highly  
 
finished and refined in a neoclassical style with  
 
plaster moldings and blue, gold, and white surfaces,  
 
resulting in a surprising contrast with the  
 
rustic exterior.2 The size of hermitages ranged  
 
from a multi-room building, such as the example  
 
from Gray’s Garden in Philadelphia, to the  
 
little “hut” described by Eliza Southgate at the  
 
Elias Hasket Derby Farm.  
 
  
“The Hermitage” was also used as the  
+
“The Hermitage” was also used as the name of many country estates, such as John Burgwin’s seat in Wilmington, N.C. [Fig. 2], and President Andrew Jackson’s estate in Nashville, Tenn. This name served to invoke an ideal retreat, and variations on it could be applied to garden features that expressed any feeling of seclusion such as the “Hermit’s Seat” at Cheshunt Cottage, near London, depicted in Downing’s Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening [Fig. 3].  
name of many country estates, such as John  
 
Burgwin’s seat in Wilmington, N.C. [Fig. 2],  
 
and President Andrew Jackson’s estate in  
 
Nashville, Tenn. This name served to invoke an  
 
ideal retreat, and variations on it could be  
 
applied to garden features that expressed any  
 
feeling of seclusion such as the “Hermit’s  
 
Seat” at Cheshunt Cottage, near London,  
 
depicted in Downing’s Treatise on the Theory  
 
and Practice of Landscape Gardening [Fig. 3].  
 
  
 
-- ''Therese O'Malley''
 
-- ''Therese O'Malley''

Revision as of 18:09, February 1, 2016

History

A hermitage was a garden structure built to suggest the reclusive and primitive habitation of a hermit. British and American garden treatises generally recommended that a hermitage be built of crude or unfinished materials such as thatch, rough-hewn stone, or mud bricks and raw wood. They often were built to resemble a natural feature such as a cave, or a “hollow tree,” according to Bernard M’Mahon (1806) and John Abercrombie and James Mean (1817). In order to enhance the effect, a hermitage could be built into a hillside or surrounded by dense planting [Fig. 1]. The outside cladding might have been made of earth with a live grass roof. If the entire building was covered with live material, it was sometimes called a “moss house.” Both A. J. Downing (1849) and James E. Teschemacher (1835) used this term in describing rustic garden structures covered with moss.1

The hermitage was particularly associated with the idea of retirement, meditation, or escape from daily life, and, therefore, often was found in an isolated part of the garden. British author Thomas Whately warned that its location should not be “close to a road,” a recommendation that American writer Bernard M’Mahon reiterated when he prescribed “some retired or private situation” as appropriate for a hermitage. Eliza Southgate’s experience of the hermitage at the Elias Hasket Derby Farm in Peabody, Mass., which she visited in 1802, suggests the depth of melancholy one might have experienced upon entering such a retreat. Lewis Miller’s sketch and poem convey a similar sentiment of solitude.

The hermitage could also be whimsical in its effect, providing a note of exotic eclecticism often desired in a pleasure garden. An advertisement for André Parmentier’s design services (1826) lists the hermitage with other picturesque garden features that included Chinese, Turkish, French, Dutch, and classical pavilions.

The interior of a hermitage might have been as crudely decorated as the exterior, although two other options have been recorded. Abercrombie recommended ornamenting the interior walls with shells, which was a conventional reference to an underworld or grotto-like environment (see Grotto). Alexander Pope’s grotto at Twickenham, near London, England (1720), was a famous example of this kind of wall treatment. A more dramatic decorating option was taken at the German religious community garden in Economy, Pa. (c. 1825), where the interior of such a structure was highly finished and refined in a neoclassical style with plaster moldings and blue, gold, and white surfaces, resulting in a surprising contrast with the rustic exterior.2 The size of hermitages ranged from a multi-room building, such as the example from Gray’s Garden in Philadelphia, to the little “hut” described by Eliza Southgate at the Elias Hasket Derby Farm.

“The Hermitage” was also used as the name of many country estates, such as John Burgwin’s seat in Wilmington, N.C. [Fig. 2], and President Andrew Jackson’s estate in Nashville, Tenn. This name served to invoke an ideal retreat, and variations on it could be applied to garden features that expressed any feeling of seclusion such as the “Hermit’s Seat” at Cheshunt Cottage, near London, depicted in Downing’s Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening [Fig. 3].

-- Therese O'Malley

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