Griffin Voigt Professor Hans Hesselein12.3.2017 LARCH 206 – History ofLandscape Architecture 1 BoboliGardensStudentCase Study SymposiumThelandscape I chose for this case study is Boboli Gardens located in FlorenceItaly. Tucked behind the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens are one of the mostimportant Italian gardens in Florence.
The Boboli Gardens serve as a green lungwithin Florence’s landscapes. The gardens are awe inspiring and bring to mindthe magnificence of the life of Grand Dukes of Tuscany. The enormous gardensfeature fountains, grottos, long wooded hillside pathways, statues, centuries-oldoak trees, lawns, and artificial lakes. The gardens are a significant exampleof green architecture with features that shade from the warm Florentine sun tothe beautiful colors of changing foliage and the scents of blooming flowerscome spring. It’s creation and construction spanned more than four hundredyears with the involvement of numerous designers and artists from the 15thto the 19th centuries.
Throughouthistory, Pitti Palace and its gardens have been home to many powerful leadersof Europe. In particular, the Medici family, was the most influential family ofcentral Italy. Florence became the center for humanist studies and artistic creationprimarily from the financial and political presence of the Medici family. Thegardens would hold a great impact themselves, as the future Queen of France,Marie de Medici would grow up exploring the gardens as a child. Herobservations of the landscape would influence the creation of the French Formaldesign style during her reign as Queen. The Boboli Gardens serve as one of themost famous formal 16th century Italian gardens and open-air museum.
Duringthe Italian renaissance, Italy and more importantly Florence, flourished in thearts with masterful, humanistic, innovative, and logical purpose. The citybecame the core to the development of arts during the Italian Renaissance.Influenced heavily by the Medici family, Florence thrived with rich innovationand ideology. The Renaissance philosophy was based predominantly on the individual’sintellectual competence which generated a great advancements withinmathematics, medicine, engineering, and architecture. The growth of Florencewas also heavily supported by the political and financial influences of theMedici family, owners of the Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace.
Originalfields and gardens were planned behind Santa Felicita in the Oltrarno by theBorgolo 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 andconstructed by Filippo Brunelleschi and Luca Pitti as a home for Luca Pitti whowas a wealthy Florentine banker of the time. A century later the property waspurchased by Cosimo I de´ Medici and his wife Eleonora di Toledo, who chose theproperty for a new grand ducal palace. In 1549 the family hired a famousarchitect and sculptor, Niccolo Tribolo to design a formal garden into thehillside behind the palace.
Unfortunately in 1550 Tribolo died, however, withhis plan drawn the works were completed by other architects includingBartolomeo Ammannati, Giorgio Vasari and Bernardo Bountalenti whom designed thegardens to reflect the original concept of formality, symmetry, and elegance withinthe gardens. The Medici family remained at the Palace until the last heir diedin 1737. By the late to mid-18th century, the property was owned bythe Hapsburg-Lorraine Dynasty. Around 1766 the grand Duke of Tuscany, PietroLeopoldo, opened the grounds to the public, granting people access to thebeautiful acres of maintained landscapes and sculptural artifacts. Thegardens are home to dozens of magnificent art pieces designed and crafted by ahandful of notorious artists. The Grotto of Bountalenti or Grotta diBountalenti features rooms full of stalactites and stalagmites with vegetation spreadthrough the spaces. Formerly known as the Grotto Grande prior to Bernardino Bountalenti’sadditions, it was originally constructed by Ammanati and Vassari in 1556 withfeaturing only a single grotto. Later Bountalenti modified the structure into atriple grotto featuring three rooms of intricate stone work to representnatural processes and cultures.
It is also the unity of pleasure and virtue aselements that inspire the thought of infinity and are provoked by the Grotto ofBountalenti. The first chamber depicts nature and metamorphosis with rocks andhollows with stalactites evoking the atmosphere of a natural cavern. Wall andceiling frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti blend in with the geological structuresof the grotto but more closely depict animals in their natural habitats. Thesecond chamber is a square space symbolizing the four elements, air, water,earth, and fire. The walls are decorated with representations of the TrojanWar. Sculptures of Paris and Helen by Vincenzo de’ Rossi are centered in theroom.
The final room is ovular in shape symbolizing an egg in which alltransformations of life take place. A bathing Venus, sculpted by Giambolognadepicting universal love, is centered in the room surrounded by wall fountains.The Grotto of Bountalenti offers an enriched atmosphere that deepens thoughtinto the infinite and promotes intellectual wellbeing. The intricacies andideology knitted within the structure of the triple grotto sets it apart fromthe rest making it a unique element and a precedent for other projects alike. Like the Bountalenti Grotto, there are manyother features punctuated across the Boboli landscape that offer spectacularviews and even respite while provoking intellectual thought. Boboli Gardens isseen as one of the most famous formal 16th century Italian gardensand open-air museum which features sculptures and art pieces decorated across arolling landscape. Similarly Storm King Art Center features modern sculpturesscattered across a vast landscape.
Follies are often nestled within groves oftrees or centered in gently mowed lawn. Varying elevation heights warp theviewers perspectives of the massive sculptures oriented throughout the terrain.Storm King does not seem to be directly influenced by Boboli Gardens however itserves as an open air museum and features similar circulation elements asBoboli does. Alleys of trees guide the viewer towards purposeful viewsheads andterminate at the edges of water features and voids equally to the axes carvingthrough the Boboli gardens.
Elements present in the Boboli Gardens can be seenin many modern day open air museums since it is the most prevalent example of aformal Italian Renaissance sculpture garden. The 111 acres that Boboli is comprised of serve asFlorence’s “green lung” which sets a standard for green architecture within thecity. The gardens and palace have represented a strong presence of wealththroughout history in Florence and act as a viewport for the public to experiencethe life of the high-class. The gardens aid as an influential precedent forfuture gallery garden projects since they offer an enriched experience that canproject intellectual thought and awe inspiring views to their guests.