Thursday, April 14, 2016

15C & 16C Garden Fountains (and Bathing Pools) - Francis Bacon, (1561-1626)

Francis Bacon, (1561-1626), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, & author, wrote of gardens in his 1625 Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall in the appropriately titled essay Of Gardens. Bacon had inherited his father's estate at Gorhambury in Hertfordshire in 1602. He gardened there & his notes outlining a scheme to make a four-acre water garden still exist in the British Museum. 

Bathing in a garden fountain, from the fresco at Castello di Manta, c. 1411

Francis Bacon, (1561-1626): God Almighty first planted a Garden; and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures; it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handy-works: and a man shall ever see, that, when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately, sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection.

Frans Pourbus the younger (1569–1622) Portrait of Francis Bacon 1617

For Fountains, they are a great beauty and refreshment; but Pools mar all, and make the Garden unwholesome, and full of flies and frogs. Fountains I intend to be of two natures; the one that sprinkleth or spouteth water: the other a fair receipt of water, of some thirty or forty foot square, but without fish, or slime, or mud.

1534 Lucas The Elder Cranach (1472-1553)  The Nymph of the  Garden Fountain

For the first, the ornaments of images, gilt or of marble, which are in use, do well: but the main matter is so to convey the water, as it never stay, either in the bowls or in the cistern: that the water be never by rest discoloured, green, or red, or the like, or gather any mossiness or putrefaction; besides that, it is to be cleansed every day by the hand: also some steps up to it, and some fine pavement about it doth well.

Two couples and two single figures in a garden square bath with a fountain at center; illustration to an unidentified Latin edition of Sebastian Münster, Cosmographia, probably printed by Petri in Basel, c. 1544-52.

As for the other kind of Fountain, which we may call a bathing-pool, it may admit much curiosity and beauty, wherewith we will not trouble ourselves: as, that the bottom be finely paved, and with images; the sides likewise; and withal embellished with coloured glass, and such things of lustre; encompassed also with fine rails of low statues: but the main point is the same which we mentioned in the former kind of Fountain; which is, that the water be in perpetual motion, fed by a water higher than the pool, and delivered into it by fair spouts, and then discharged away underground, by some equality of bores, that it stay little; and for fine devices, of arching water without spilling, and making it rise in several forms (of feathers, drinking-glasses, canopies, and the like), they be pretty things to look on, but nothing to health and sweetness.

Four couples seated in a round bath around a garden fountain; a man playing a flute at right; illustration to an unidentified Latin edition of Sebastian Münster, Cosmographia, probably printed by Petri in Basel, c.1544-52.

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