Difference Between Shalimar And La Pietra

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Shalimar and La Pietra: A Comparative Study of Two Gardens Built by the famed Acton family between 1908 and the Second World War, an invitation to an event at the gardens at Florence’s Villa La Pietra “was a rite of passage for English and American travellers passing through Florence”. The gardens draw inspiration from an amalgamation of sources. They are, ostensibly, in the style of the Italian Renaissance, which also drew from Greco-Roman aesthetics. However, because they were built centuries after the true Italian Renaissance, the gardens are considered to be Renaissance Revival gardens, thus representing an idealised version of the type of garden that would have been found in the 15th century – these idealised elements were especially…show more content…
As previously mentioned, the layout of most Muslim gardens is derived from the description of Paradise in the Surat ar-Rahman, the 55th chapter of the Qur’an. This entails elements such as gushing fountains, rivers, and pools (The Noble Qur’an). Each of these are symbolic in the Islamic canon – running water is a holy and purifying element, and still water reflects the sky, a manifestation of Allah’s infinite nature. Shalimar is a typical Mughal garden in that it follows the Persian Charbagh (literally meaning “four gardens”), a quadrangular scheme. In a Charbagh layout, the grounds must also be divided into four smaller sections by axial paths intersecting at the garden’s midpoint (Ruggles 39); in Shalimar, these paths are comprised of four main channels flowing water derived from the main canals, meeting at a large pool in the park’s centre. This decidedly structured geometric layout was “a powerful metaphor for the organization and domestication of the landscape, itself a symbol of political territory” (Ruggles 39) – the Mughal regime was in this way asserting their dominance over their conquered territory in South Asia. It is important to note that design elements of the conquered are also incorporated – decorative pavilions typical of South Asia mark the cardinal points along the garden’s…show more content…
Many of the Greco-Roman arcs in the gardens are broken in the middle; one can garner that they are intentionally in a state of decay in order to give the romantic impression that they are remnants from antiquity – a structure which would normally look grandiose and imposing is made unassuming so as not to let a manmade creation detract from the natural setting and beautiful vistas. Likewise, the marble statues on either side of one such arc of two partially robed women add to the same effect of depicting humanity in a more natural state when in the garden. Several of the marble sculptures in the La Pietra gardens allude to nature itself – among the collection are nymphs (spirits of nature personified by beautiful young women), Pan (Greek god of the wild), and Artemis (goddess of the moon and the hunt). Dark greens and browns from the surrounding trees are “the perfect foil for the collection of pale, sculpted figures that encompassed classical gods”, creating play between light and darkness. It is interesting to note that a fair amount of these sculptures (which are approximately 180 in number) were actually purchased by Arthur Acton from the famous Medici Boboli Gardens. As in La Pietra, much of the ornamental architecture in the Shalimar Gardens is made of marble – the enclosures around the various
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