Griffin particular, the Medici family, was the most

Griffin Voigt

Professor Hans Hesselein

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LARCH 206 – History of
Landscape Architecture 1                                                                        



Case Study Symposium

landscape I chose for this case study is Boboli Gardens located in Florence
Italy. Tucked behind the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens are one of the most
important Italian gardens in Florence. The Boboli Gardens serve as a green lung
within Florence’s landscapes. The gardens are awe inspiring and bring to mind
the magnificence of the life of Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The enormous gardens
feature fountains, grottos, long wooded hillside pathways, statues, centuries-old
oak trees, lawns, and artificial lakes. The gardens are a significant example
of green architecture with features that shade from the warm Florentine sun to
the beautiful colors of changing foliage and the scents of blooming flowers
come spring. It’s creation and construction spanned more than four hundred
years with the involvement of numerous designers and artists from the 15th
to the 19th centuries.  Throughout
history, Pitti Palace and its gardens have been home to many powerful leaders
of Europe. In particular, the Medici family, was the most influential family of
central Italy. Florence became the center for humanist studies and artistic creation
primarily from the financial and political presence of the Medici family. The
gardens would hold a great impact themselves, as the future Queen of France,
Marie de Medici would grow up exploring the gardens as a child. Her
observations of the landscape would influence the creation of the French Formal
design style during her reign as Queen. The Boboli Gardens serve as one of the
most famous formal 16th century Italian gardens and open-air museum.

the Italian renaissance, Italy and more importantly Florence, flourished in the
arts with masterful, humanistic, innovative, and logical purpose. The city
became the core to the development of arts during the Italian Renaissance.
Influenced heavily by the Medici family, Florence thrived with rich innovation
and ideology. The Renaissance philosophy was based predominantly on the individual’s
intellectual competence which generated a great advancements within
mathematics, medicine, engineering, and architecture. The growth of Florence
was also heavily supported by the political and financial influences of the
Medici family, owners of the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace.

fields and gardens were planned behind Santa Felicita in the Oltrarno by the
Borgolo family, which is thought to be where the garden’s name derives from.
The Palazzo Palace also referred to as the Pitti Palace was designed and
constructed by Filippo Brunelleschi and Luca Pitti as a home for Luca Pitti who
was a wealthy Florentine banker of the time. A century later the property was
purchased by Cosimo I de´ Medici and his wife Eleonora di Toledo, who chose the
property for a new grand ducal palace. In 1549 the family hired a famous
architect and sculptor, Niccolo Tribolo to design a formal garden into the
hillside behind the palace. Unfortunately in 1550 Tribolo died, however, with
his plan drawn the works were completed by other architects including
Bartolomeo Ammannati, Giorgio Vasari and Bernardo Bountalenti whom designed the
gardens to reflect the original concept of formality, symmetry, and elegance within
the gardens. The Medici family remained at the Palace until the last heir died
in 1737. By the late to mid-18th century, the property was owned by
the Hapsburg-Lorraine Dynasty. Around 1766 the grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro
Leopoldo, opened the grounds to the public, granting people access to the
beautiful acres of maintained landscapes and sculptural artifacts.

gardens are home to dozens of magnificent art pieces designed and crafted by a
handful of notorious artists. The Grotto of Bountalenti or Grotta di
Bountalenti features rooms full of stalactites and stalagmites with vegetation spread
through the spaces. Formerly known as the Grotto Grande prior to Bernardino Bountalenti’s
additions, it was originally constructed by Ammanati and Vassari in 1556 with
featuring only a single grotto. Later Bountalenti modified the structure into a
triple grotto featuring three rooms of intricate stone work to represent
natural processes and cultures. It is also the unity of pleasure and virtue as
elements that inspire the thought of infinity and are provoked by the Grotto of
Bountalenti. The first chamber depicts nature and metamorphosis with rocks and
hollows with stalactites evoking the atmosphere of a natural cavern. Wall and
ceiling frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti blend in with the geological structures
of the grotto but more closely depict animals in their natural habitats. The
second chamber is a square space symbolizing the four elements, air, water,
earth, and fire. The walls are decorated with representations of the Trojan
War. Sculptures of Paris and Helen by Vincenzo de’ Rossi are centered in the
room. The final room is ovular in shape symbolizing an egg in which all
transformations of life take place. A bathing Venus, sculpted by Giambologna
depicting universal love, is centered in the room surrounded by wall fountains.
The Grotto of Bountalenti offers an enriched atmosphere that deepens thought
into the infinite and promotes intellectual wellbeing. The intricacies and
ideology knitted within the structure of the triple grotto sets it apart from
the rest making it a unique element and a precedent for other projects alike.  Like the Bountalenti Grotto, there are many
other features punctuated across the Boboli landscape that offer spectacular
views and even respite while provoking intellectual thought.

            Boboli Gardens is
seen as one of the most famous formal 16th century Italian gardens
and open-air museum which features sculptures and art pieces decorated across a
rolling landscape. Similarly Storm King Art Center features modern sculptures
scattered across a vast landscape. Follies are often nestled within groves of
trees or centered in gently mowed lawn. Varying elevation heights warp the
viewers perspectives of the massive sculptures oriented throughout the terrain.
Storm King does not seem to be directly influenced by Boboli Gardens however it
serves as an open air museum and features similar circulation elements as
Boboli does. Alleys of trees guide the viewer towards purposeful viewsheads and
terminate at the edges of water features and voids equally to the axes carving
through the Boboli gardens. Elements present in the Boboli Gardens can be seen
in many modern day open air museums since it is the most prevalent example of a
formal Italian Renaissance sculpture garden.

            The 111 acres that Boboli is comprised of serve as
Florence’s “green lung” which sets a standard for green architecture within the
city. The gardens and palace have represented a strong presence of wealth
throughout history in Florence and act as a viewport for the public to experience
the life of the high-class. The gardens aid as an influential precedent for
future gallery garden projects since they offer an enriched experience that can
project intellectual thought and awe inspiring views to their guests. 


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