Friday, December 21, 2012

Landscape-Gardening, The Art Expression part IV


The beginning of every fine art is, hidden in obscurity. It has been gradually developed until it attained a great degree of perfection. It may-be surmised that there was a time when men and women could not sing, and when there were no musical instruments. Probably the earliest representatives of the human race could utter pleasing sounds, but it must have taken a long time to develop tunes, to learn the harmony of music, and ages to perfect such instruments as the violin, the clarinet, the organ, and the piano. The devotion to music was such, however, that this fine art became part of the life of every civilized nation.
Music is needed at most social gatherings and at nearly all religious exercises. It is necessary in war and in peace. It is capable of exciting emotions of patriotism, of joy, and of sadness. It forms not only a part of the life of a nation, but dominates, to some extent, the lives of many individuals and families.
The development of sculpture doubtless began in rude attempts, like those seen today among
some savage tribes, and continued with the progress in civilization until it culminated in Greece more than two thousand years ago. While this fine art does not make so universal an appeal as does music,
it nevertheless exerts a powerful influence.
The different styles of architecture have culminated at various periods, but each, during its
development, has been understood and appreciated by all classes of persons and has really formed part of the life of the nation or nations where it came to its greatest perfection.
Poetry and the art of verbal expression kept pace with music, sculpture, and architecture, and at present no art exerts a greater influence. One can scarcely imagine a civilization without books.
Literature, indeed, lies at the foundation of modern life.
Painting and the graphic arts reached the highest development they have attained somewhat later
than the arts that have just been named. Thedevelopment of the fine art of making pictures, in so far as they represent landscapes, is comparatively recent. Such pictures now form an important part of the paintings seen in art galleries, public buildings, and residences. They appear abundantly among the illustrations of books and periodicals.
Landscape-gardening is now in the process of development. One or two generations ago there
were less than a half dozen firms following this profession in the United States. Indeed, only a small percentage of all people are awere that there is such a profession, and of those who have heard of it only a few know what it really is. Before it reaches its full development, it also must become a part of the life of the people.
If, as stated above, this art of landscape-gardening is growing, what will be its final attainment? What will it do for the people ? If properly guided in its growth, it will teach them to see the beauty of nature, the beauty of this world, of which many are now as ignorant as the ten-year-old boy was of the beauty of sunsets before his attention was called to them.
It will bring about a different spirit with regard to beauty wherever seen. There are many who regard anything which is beyond or outside of what is generally called “practical” as something foolish, wasteful, and effeminate, not realizing that it is the beautiful which makes life worth living.
It will open the eyes of farmers and their families to the beauty that is always around them in the
sky and in their fields, and, if they possess them, in their wood-lots, their orchards, springs, streams, and hedgerows, and in the birds that delight in bushes and trees. It will enable those who live in the country to get far greater pleasure from life than many do at present, and will stimulate them to beautify their homes and take pride in their surroundings, their work, and their free healthful lives. It will prevent a farmer from renting
his field or his barn for a bill-board to advertise someone’s pills. It will teach him that he may have, if he will, during each day of his life, that enjoyment in the beauty of the country to which business men of the city look forward as the crowning pleasure of their declining years, those years when rheumatism, deafness, and other infirmities frequently prevent one from receiving the full measure of happiness that nature should give.
It will teach the city dweller, who, to a certain extent, is fond of nature, that it is not the part of wisdom to create beautiful parks and build beautiful drives or parkways and then border them with bill-boards. It will teach him to respect the wooded bluffs and hillsides, the springs, streams, river banks and lake shores within the city boundaries, and preserve them with loving care. This appreciation and care will also extend to the suburbs and will bring about a friendly relation between the people of the city and those of the country.
The full development of that fine art, of which this book gives mere suggestions and glimpses, should result in preserving the country’s natural beauty, and developing real outdoor pictures every-where until the United States becomes the most beautiful country in the world — more beautiful than any now imagined, and fully worthy of the affection and pride of all its people.
What of the landscape-gardener? What should he have in the way of equipment, aims, and compensation? As to equipment, “all is grist that comes to his mill”; but he should have above all a love and appreciation of natural beauty. It is of advantage to him if he has been born in the country, or at least has lived a portion of his life in intimate relation with woods, streams, and open fields. The history of the world, as revealed in astronomy, geology, physiography, botany, zoology, chemistry, and the development of nations, is of value to him. The skill of the artist in various forms of expression is also of value — expression in words, in drawings, and in actual construction. His aims should include helping his fellow men and women to live happier, richer, fuller lives; helping his country, his city, his neighborhood, his own home to grow more beautiful; helping everywhere in that material, artistic and ideal development that comes from doing things in rational, thoughtful, common-sense way.
His compensation in a material way should correspond with that received by men in other professions; but in the satisfaction that comes from seeing and producing beauty, from breathing fresh air, getting outdoor exercise and all the delights that go with the country and the great outdoors and in the pleasure and satisfaction of doing helpful constructive work, no profession can vie with that of this new art.

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