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The Tradescants' Orchard: The Mystery of a Seventeenth-Century Painted Fruit Bookby Barrie Juniper
Synopses & Reviews
Perspective determines how we, as viewers, perceive painting. We can convince ourselves that a painting of a bowl of fruit or a man in a room appears to be real by the ways these objects are rendered. Likewise, the trick of perspective can prevent us from being absorbed in a scene. Connecting contemporary critical theory with close readings of seventeenth-century Dutch visual culture, The Rhetoric of Perspective puts forth the claim that painting is a form of thinking and that perspective functions as the language of the image.
Aided by a stunning full-color gallery, Hanneke Grootenboer proposes a new theory of perspective based on the phenomenological aspects of non-narrative still-life, trompe l'oeil, and anamorphic imagery. Drawing on playful and mesmerizing baroque images, Grootenboer characterizes what she calls their "sophisticated deceit," asserting that painting is more about visual representation than about its supposed objects. Grootenboer demonstrates how these paintingsand#8212;ones that are often marginalized by art historical discourseand#8212;skillfully articulate the complexities of the visual and, consequently, gain new relevance in the context of recent interest in visual theory.
Offering an original theory of perspective's impact on pictorial representation, the act of looking, and the understanding of truth in painting, Grootenboer shows how these paintings both question the status of representation and explore the limits and credibility of perception.
In the early seventeenth century, England’s leisured classes took an eager interest in fruits from the Mediterranean and beyond, introducing species from abroad into the kitchen gardens and orchards of grand homes. A charming collection of sixty-six early watercolors showing fecund trees with fruits hanging heavily from their branches, The Tradescants’ Orchard is a testament to these broadening horticultural horizons.
The Tradescants’ Orchard reproduces for the first time the entire manuscript, traditionally associated with the renowned father-and-son nurserymen the John Tradescants. The paintings pose many questions: Who painted them and why? What is the significance of the wildlife—birds, butterflies, frogs, and snails—that appear throughout? Why is there only one depiction of an apple tree despite its popularity? Were there others that have since gone missing?
A visual feast that will appeal to botany and gardening enthusiasts, the book also includes an introduction that maps out the mystery of how and why these enigmatic watercolors were made.
About the Author
Hanneke Grootenboer is professor in the history of art and a fellow and tutor at St. Peter's College, University of Oxford.
Table of Contents
1. ‘A curiosity in Mr Ashmoles museum
2. ‘A world of wonders in one closet shut
3. ‘Fruits and all manner of creatures
4. ‘An Orchard of all sorte of fruit bearing Trees
5. A 400-year-old legacy
The Tradescants Orchard
List of plates
Sources and further reading
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