Humphry* Repton (1752-1818) at the Morgan Library & Museum, NYC
Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design May 21 through August 29, 2010
This excellent exhibit demonstrating the influence of the Romantic Era on gardens in Europe, especially England and France, features the work of artist, Humphry Repton. There is no doubt that Repton was familiar with the flap books being used in his time for science, astronomy and anatomy. He cleverly and very effectively sold his landscape ideas by using flaps to show before and after images to prospective clients. Of course, we are talking about vast estates.
I had the pleasure of visiting The Morgan Library to see these wonderful books. Below are images from the exhibit not only from Repton's Red Book series but from other landscape artists as well. [the Popuplady took these photos with her iphone. Apologies for poor quality.] Click here to be able to see the before and after images, on flap/off flap, for several books in the exhibition.The Morgan has a narrated talk by curator, John Bidwell, [click on Watch/Listen] wherein Bidwell describes Repton as an artist of great accomplishment. Repton was "witty. adroit and learned," easily "speaking with landed gentry on equal terms." While not the first landscape designer in Europe, Repton uniquely used the print media to become a "master at publicity." Using the flap-technique and fine illustrations, he attracted eager clients. Using watercolors and aquatints, Repton housed his designs between red morocco leather, hence, The Red Books. These original books sell today for over € 19.000,00/$25,000 US. In 1976, a facsimile set, The Red Books of Humphry Repton, was published by Basilisk Press.
By the time you read this, this excellent exhibition will be over. You can still see it on The Morgan Library's website.
Repton's business card, 1788
*Yes, Humphry has no 'e'.