Bourgeois and Aristocratic Cultural Encounters in Garden Art, 1550–1850 offers an unparalleled opportunity to discover how complex relationships between bourgeois and aristocrats have led to developments in garden art from the Renaissance into the Industrial Revolution, irrespective of stylistic differences. These essays show how garden creation has contributed to blurring social boundaries and to the ongoing redefinition of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. Also illustrated is the aggressive use of gardens by bourgeois in more-or-less successful attempts at subverting existing social hierarchies in renaissance Genoa and eighteenth-century Bristol, England; as well as the opposite, as demonstrated by the king of France, Louis XIV, who claimed to rule the arts, but imitated the curieux fleuristes, a group of amateurs from diverse strata of French society.
Essays in this volume explore this complex framework of relationships in the diverse settings of Britain, France, Biedermeier Vienna, and renaissance Genoa. The volume confirms that gardens were objects of conspicuous consumption, but also challenges the theories of consumption set forth by Thorstein Veblen and Pierre Bourdieu, and explores the contributions of gardens to major cultural changes like the rise of public opinion, gender and family relationships, and capitalism.