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The «Chinese Garden in Good Taste»

Jesuits and Europe’s Knowledge of Chinese Flora and Art of the Garden in the 17th and 18th Centuries

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Bianca M. Rinaldi

During the eighteenth century, Europe saw a radical change in taste in the art of the garden that led to the development and spread over the continent of gardens inspired by an artistic naturalness. A contribution to this process was also given by the Society of Jesus, whose members were the first who revealed to Europe the natural forms of the gardens of China.

The book explores the Jesuits’ discovery of that world, and documents and analyzes the materials both on Chinese flora and art of garden they made available during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Providing a picture of the information concerning Chinese plants and gardens transmitted by Jesuits and evaluating the ways in which the gradual deepening of the Jesuits’ investigation reflected changes in botanical studies and in gardening taste in European culture of the period as well, the book focuses on European intellectual and social history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as on the cultural landscape.