WILLIAM ANDREWS NESFIELD [1794-1881] ARTIST AND LANDSCAPE GARDENER
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Contrary to past opinions William Andrews Nesfield's garden layouts were not solely designed to provide appropriate accompaniments to the Elizabethan and Jacobean revival architecture of his brother-in-law Anthony Salvin (1799-1881). Nor were they conceived chiefly to provide his wealthy patrons with a variation on the French seventeenth-century parterre-de-broderie. Undoubtedly, this device helped to forge a sympathetic bond between Nesfield and his patrons, for it had been a symbol of power and status in seventeenth-century France when it was associated with the upper echelons of French society. It therefore represented to the aristocracy and upper gentry of nineteenth-century Britain, during the time Nesfield was engaged in landscape design, a symbol of their continuing power and influence. The above factors were a means to an end for Nesfield, and helped him to become firmly established as a successful landscape designer. But the most crucial element to be considered. when attempting to reach an understanding of Nesfield's garden design philosophy, is his spacial awareness which demanded that both the strictly formal area in the environs of the house and the more naturalistic landscape beyond be adapted and integrated into a cohesive whole. He did this by assimilating the individual parts through visual assessment, transferring his findings to his drawing board and then applying these findings to the ground. As an experienced professional landscape painter, skilled in the arts of observation and perspective, he was able to adapt the classical concept of the unity of all the parts for his own use and then incorporate within the two divergent areas of his overall designs the fundamental elements of variety, consistency, simplicity, breadth and repose.
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