Chapter

Nature's Art

Howard Marchitello

in The Machine in the Text

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608058
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729492 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608058.003.0006
Nature's Art

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This chapter begins with a discussion of The Winter's Tale in which we see Shakespeare negotiating the art–nature contest in two complexly related moments. The first is Polixenes' declaration that “art itself is nature.” The second is the conjuring of Hermione's statue, a spectacular event that depends upon the logic of the trompe l'oeil figured not only in Giulio Romano's statue, but in the play itself, that contests Polixenes' “naturalness of art” argument. The chapter then shifts to the early modern garden and the response to the art–nature debate that emerges from within mid-seventeenth-century garden theory and practice. Focusing particularly on John Evelyn's Elysium Britannicum, this chapter argues that the early modern garden is an ideal locus for a consideration of the nature of nature for it is here that one witnesses a dismantling of the “naturalness of nature” argument and its replacement with the understanding of nature's artificial nature.

Keywords: Shakespeare; art–nature; trompe l'oeil; John Evelyn; garden theory; emblem; George Wither; pastoralism; georgic; automata

Chapter.  15077 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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