Jacques Rigaud (French, 16811754)
Ink and wash; 11 5/8 x 19 1/2 in. (29.5 x 49.5 cm) (sheet)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1942 (42.79.7)
This washed ink drawing shows elegantly dressed members of the English aristocracy walking through Stowe garden (Buckinghamshire), admiring one of its numerous classical buildings. The drawing forms part of a series made by the French topographical draftsman Jacques Rigaud (16811754), published in print form in Stowe Gardens in Buckinghamshire, London, 1739. Charles Bridgeman (died 1738) was the main landscape architect of this transitional period from formal gardening to informal landscape design. He worked at Stowe from 1715 to 1726, collaborating with the architect Sir John Vanbrugh (16641726), close friend of the owner Richard Temple, first viscount Cobham. Proud of his work, in 1733 Bridgeman asked Rigaud to come to England to create a detailed record of the estate, the widespread publication of which instantly made Stowe into England's most influential landscape garden. Rigaud's drawings give a good impression of the semi-natural layout typical for early landscape design, still carefully balancing wild pasture with traditional geometrical sections. Stowe underwent various subsequent transformations, the final phase of which still forms the basis of today's park.