Advance Information Sheet
Follies of Eastern Europe & Russia
Photographs by NIC BARLOW
Introduction by ADAM ZAMOYSKI
Text by CAROLINE HOLMES
Every building tells a story… In England, the late eighteenth century was a period of enormous socio-economic and political change. Through scientific and technological innovation, expansion in trade and industry, a new wealthy élite emerged eager to establish themselves in society and in doing so created some of the most extraordinary landscapes—landscapes that have had an enduring influence.From the heyday of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the flowering of the Russian, Prussian and the Austro-Hungarian Empires to the renaissance of national identities in the year of revolutions—1848–British architects and landscape designers have influenced many important gardens in Europe, and in doing so, defined the principles of the English Garden Landscape Movement, and created a genre of garden buildings—follies—designed to enchant and inspire. Follies are idiosyncratic, their primary purpose is to delight. From the 18th century onwards follies, such as temples, pavilions, sham ruins, ornamental bridges, towers, grottos and eyecatchers were used as decorative devices within the designed landscape. Follies of Fashion—extravagant or fanciful buildings serving artistic expression more than practicality—began to thrive in the landscapes created for the grand houses of Europe, as the concept of jardins anglais extended eastward into Europe, Scandinavia and Russia, and in doing so stimulated an appetite for the whimsical and the eccentric in related architectures. The extensive wealth and power of the grandees at that time made for the creation of traditional follies in ‘romantic landscapes’ such as Arkadia (Poland) and Sofyivka (Ukraine), both of which were created with passion and an eye for fashion. Aristocratic landowners’ imaginations were inspired by the impact of the Grand Tour and the Arcadian landscape paintings of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. Follies of Passion were personal, capturing the intimate vision of their creators and translating them into reality—these could be elaborate in style, size and ornamentation. Follies borrowed inspiration from many different sources to create an illusionarypotpourri of styles set within a carefully constructed idealised landscape. The excavation of Rome and Herculaneum in the mid 1770s triggered a renewed interest in the Ancient World and influence of the Age of the Enlightenment. Satisfying the taste for the exotic, Chinoiserie, dotted the landscaped park lands from Tsarskoye Selo (Russia) and Drottningholm Palace (Sweden) with pavilions, bridges and interiors owing more to the imagination than reality. Turquerie was introduced to the court of Louis XV in 1720. This style consequently inspired a series of ‘Turkish’ kiosks/tents at Painshill (UK), Désert de Retz (France), Haga Park (Sweden) and Monrepos (Russia). The ‘Turkish’ Style also included mosque-like buildings, complete with minarets, built not for religious purposes but as part of a decorated landscape, such as at Lednice -Valtice (Czech Republic) and Schwetzingen Palace, (Germany). These were exciting times, with magnificent larger-than-life characters such as Catherine the Great, Gustav III of Sweden, and Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, the King of Two Sicilies; Goethe, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Chopin and Liszt, this is about how the philosophy of the English Landscape Gardening Movement travelled crossed national boundaries and created landscapes that are very much a part of their countries’ national identity today.