The Garden at Bomarzo, Jessie Sheeler
A Renaissance Riddle
First edition, 2007
Photographs by Mark Edward Smith
In mid-sixteenth-century Italy; Vicino Orsini, Lord of Bomarzo, soldier, artist, poet and freethinker, created a garden he called his sacro bosco — holy wood. Spectacular in its rugged site and enigmatic sculptures, this garden was from the outset a place to delight and challenge the intellect as well as the senses. In the wooded valley beneath the Orsini palace at Bomarzo shady pathways led admiring visitors past structures and sculptures emblematic, ambiguous and often grotesque — works that are the product of Vicino's fascination with alchemy, religion, sex and mythology.
Vicino's letters reveal the mind of a man disillusioned with the blood-soaked political manoeuvres of his time, and increasingly enthralled with the making of a garden full of symbols and mottoes. They also allow an unusual insight into his complex relationships with his powerful neighbours, his exemplary wife, his alchemist friend in Rome and his succession of lovers.
Jessie Sheeler's intriguing text and Mark Edward Smith's dramatic photographs offer a fascinating introduction to this mysterious nobleman and his extraordinary garden.
Jessie Sheeler was brought up in Edinburgh and read Classics at Edinburgh University. In the early 1960s, working with Ian Hamilton Finlay, she co-founded the Wild Hawthorn Press and its poetry magazine, Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. After various teaching jobs and a spell as an assistant in day care centres for children in New York, she settled with her family in Hampshire where she became Head of Classics at the co-educational boarding school Bedales. She now lives in Scotland on the Solway coast, teaching Latin and desperately trying to keep two and a half acres of unruly garden under control. She is the author of Little Sparta: The Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay.
The Garden at Bomarzo, Jessie Sheeler, light traces of use on the cover, otherwise as new
Frances Lincoln Limited, London, 2007 first edtion, hardcover with dust jacket, 31,3 x 25,9 x 1,8 cm, 128 pages
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