William Shenstone, The Leasowes, and Landscape Gardening
1714 - 1763 (c.)
Image: Portrait bust of William Shenstone (1714-1763) from the Frontispiece of The Works in Verse and Prose of William Shenstone, Esq., Vol. I, Second Edition (London, J Dodsley, 1765).
Text: Anonymous. Copyright rests with the author
Image Captions: Malcolm Dick
William Shenstone was born in 1714 and died in 1763. His fame rests on his reputation as a poet and landscape gardener. His estate at the Leasowes (pronounced “lezzoes”) at Halesowen, near Dudley, which he transformed into a cultural phenomenon, attracted visitors from home and abroad. This article explores Shenstone’s impact on the Leasowes and his place in the tradition of English garden design and the cult of the “natural” landscape.
Shenstone lived during a time of rapid industrialisation, but he pays little attention to the mines, glass works, forges and foundries which were operating close to his property, though he travelled locally and was well-acquainted with at least two local entrepreneurs, John Baskerville and Matthew Boulton. Written by a local researcher, this article is accompanied by 18th and early 19th century images to illustrate the text.
Sections: [Click on the images on the right to access each section]
1. Introduction: William Shenstone and the Leasowes
2. Shenstone's Early Life
3. Shenstone and Rural Elegance: Poetry and Landscape
4. Shenstone, Rural Virtues and the Countryside
5. Shenstone and English Landscape Gardening
6. Shenstone and the Creation of the Natural Landscape
7. Shenstone, Landscape and Farming
8. Shenstone’s Embellishments to the Leasowes
9. The Reputation of the Leasowes
10. Appreciating the Landscape: Robert Dodsley and the Leasowes
11. A “delightful Paradise”: the Leasowes Cult
12. “Beauty and Simplicity”: Descriptions of the Leasowes
13. Shenstone’s Influence
14. Shenstone and the Locality
Sources and Further Reading
Shenstone, William, The Letters of William Shenstone, Arranged and Edited with introduction, Notes and Index by Marjorie Williams (Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1939.
Shenstone, William, The Works in Verse and Prose of William Shenstone, Esq., Vols.I, II and III, Second Edition (London, J Dodsley, 1765).
Dixon Hunt, John, The Figure in the Landscape: Poetry, Painting, and Gardening during the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore and London, The Johns Hopkins University Press,1976, 1989).
Hyams, Edward, Capability Brown and Humphry Repton (J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1971).
McKee, Robert Andrew, A Commentary of the life and Works of William Shenstone (University of Birmingham PhD Thesis, 1976).
Monro Purkis, E, William Shenstone, Poet and Landscape Gardener (Wolverhampton, Whitehead Brothers Ltd., 1931).
Somers, F and K M, Halas, Hales, Halesowen (Halesowen, H Parkes Ltd, 1932).
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