Contributor: Nicola J. Watson
Location: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA
Description: This oil painting executed in 1819 by Thomas Daniell (1749-1840) shows part of an extraordinary ‘Indian’ landscape at Sezincote House in Gloucestershire, UK. Still extant, and open to the public, this expensive experiment in the Indian style was completed in 1817. The style was characteristically British rather than European, associated with wealthy ‘nabobs’ returning from long residence in India to make their way in British society as best they could; the eclecticism of le jardin à l’anglaise when exported to Europe stretched more usually to the exoticism of chinoiserie. (1) Nevertheless, this garden illustrates a Europe-wide truth about how inland water was imagined in the period; water was Romantic if – and only if — it appeared to be wild rather than tame. By contrast, explicitly instrumentalized water – the waters of spas and canals, for example – remained resolutely unromantic.