A cenotaph - Hints on Ornamental Gardening


The image depicts a stone cenotaph, erected in a garden. Papworth’s skill in drawing is conveyed by his close attention to detail. The trees are depicted in different shades, and some appear to be in motion. The cenotaph is mirrored by the pond at its base, and the sky is marbled with what appear to be pale clouds and shafts of light.

Accession Number: 

Thordarson T 3911

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Beneath the drawing the title of the plate is written in capital letters, "A Cenotaph."
First edition
Hints on Ornamental Gardening, consisting of a series of designs for Garden Buildings, useful and decorative Gates, Fences, Railings, &c. Accompanied by Observations on the Principles and Theory of rural improvement, interspersed with occasional remarks on Rural Architecture by John Buonarotti Papworth, printed for R. Ackermann, 101 Strand, London, 1823.
Hints on Ornamental Gardening was written and published to provide its readership with a knowledge of ornamental gardening; the author describes this intention in the preface: "its pretentions are limited to the desirable task of shewing to those persons, who have as yet thought but little to the principles of Pictorial Art" (Papworth, Hints on Ornamental Gardening, p. 1). Papworth points out that his "essay" should be read as an answer to the 1819 and 1820 showings of "Garden Buildings" in the Repository of Arts (a journal published by R. Ackermann between 1809 and 1828). In 1812 Papworth designed a showroom for Ackermann, and later another building at 96 Strand (1826).
Papworth was also a designer in urban planning and furniture in and around London. He later worked internationally as well, designing a model town which was intended to be built near Cincinnati in 1827. His most notable work was the design of Laleham Park in Middlesex.
Plate XXVIII of 28 plates in total that depict several examples of ornamental gardening, such as "A Poultry House," "A Conservatory," or "A Fountain". Beneath the drawing, the title of the plate is written in capital letters: "A Cenotaph."
John Papworth, a landscape designer and architect, as well as the designer of this particular cenotaph, wrote about the urge to create monuments to deceased loved ones in private gardens. This image illustrates how the Romantic concept of death influenced the planning of gardens.
According to Papworth, cenotaphs were not merely intended as an "embellishment," but were meant to function "as the model for some monument of veneration, esteem, or respect for departed worth or friendship" (Papworth, Hints on Ornamental Gardening, p. 110). He also points out that "Its situation in grounds would properly be a spot as adapted and exclusively devoted to solitude and meditation" (Papworth, Hints on Ornamental Gardening, p. 110).
Cenotaphs were not erected in gardens as mere ornaments; instead, they were intended to invoke the presence and memory of deceased loved ones. The desire to have a reminder of the deceased in one’s garden recalls Philippe Ariès notion of death as formulated in Romantic thought, distinguished in part by the period's rejection of "hell" or a final judgement:
The end of hell does not mean the end of God. The Romantics were often fervent believers. But for those to whom death was hidden under the mask of beauty, the God of the Bible often took the form of nature. For death is not merely the separation from the other. Death may also be […] the miraculous approach of the unfathomable, a mystical communion with the sources of being, the cosmic infinity. (Ariès, The Hour of our Death, p. 474)
Many of the Romantic poets used death as a motif and/or theme in their writings; "death" itself was a prominent interest and concern of the period. Ariès refers to this interest as a fascination with "the mystical communion," the unknown which is encountered at the moment of death and afterwards. Traces of this prevailing fascination can be found in the architecture of the period and in the lived space of people: the planning of ornamental gardens to include cenotaphs is an important example of this Romantic influence.
This image consists in an illustration of an object described in the text.
Ariès, Philippe. The Hour Of Our Death. New York: Second Vintage Books Edition, 2008. Originally published in French in 1977, first translation into English was published in 1981.

Evans, Roger. The Writer in the Garden, An Exhibition at the British Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Cates, Arthur . “Papworth, John Buonarotti (1775–1847).” Rev. John Elliott. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Jan. 2008. 23 Mar. 2009 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/21254

Houfe, Simon. The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists, 1800-1914. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Baron Publishing, 1978

Saguaro, Shelley. Garden Plots, The Politics and Poetics of Gardens. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.
Hints on ornamental gardening: consisting of a series of designs for garden buildings, useful and decorative gates, fences, railroads, &c., accompanied by observations on the principles and theory of rural improvement, interspersed with occasional remarks on rural architecture / by John Buonarotti Papworth ... Includes index, London, Printed for R. Ackermann ... by J. Digens ... 1823, 110 p., [28] leaves of plates, ill., 27 cm. Special Collections, University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Library

Image Date: 

c. March 1822


Rudolph Ackermann

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