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GARDENING : Photos Focus on Italian Villa Landscaping

July 16, 1994|From Associated Press

An exhibition and a book open up vistas of stately hedge walks, classical stonework and elegantly soaring cypress trees in Italian gardens, photographed in 1892 by an American landscape architect.

Charles A. Platt (1861-1933), who went on to become a leading designer of country houses and gardens, toured Italian Renaissance villa gardens that year--camera in hand. His book, "Italian Gardens," illustrated with his photographs, was published in 1894 and had a considerable influence on the development of American garden styles.

The New York exhibition, "The Italian Garden Photographs of Charles A. Platt," displays eight of the original bichromate large-format prints, alongside 70 new silver prints made from the recently rediscovered glass plate negatives. Many of these photographs were not used in the book and had not previously been published. There are also on view a few photos of gardens Platt went on to design in the United States.

The original book, long out of print, has been reprinted as a catalogue for the exhibition (Sagapress Inc. with Timber Press, $34.95). It includes 20 previously unpublished photos and an essay by exhibition curator Keith Morgan on Platt's place in American landscape history.

The exhibition is on view at the PaineWebber Art Gallery in New York through April 1. Exhibitions are being planned at the Museum of Garden History, London, and in Chicago.

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