setting the scene
The Red Book for Brandsbury, 1789, illustrated proposals for the 100-acre landscape of a villa now swallowed up by the North London suburb of Willesden. Repton illustrated his improvements in this graphic manner – a paper flap can be lifted to show the ‘rich distances’ that could be revealed by the removal of an existing fence.
I also often present my proposals adapting Repton’s invention the ‘before’ and ‘after’ view, using a photo graph rather than a watercolour of the ‘before’ or existing view, shown in contrast to a watercolour visual as the ‘after’. The combination of these views, together with a ground plan, makes it easier for clients to understand the proposals.
The basis of Repton’s work was the then fashionable theory of the Picturesque. This aesthetic theory radically altered the way the British looked at their own natural landscape, and this in turn informed the way that parks and gardens were designed and appreciated. So much was written about the aesthetics of landscape in the late eighteenth century that any moderately well-read layman could have made an intelligent attempt at appreciating and deconstructing a piece of scenery, natural or artificial, either in a picture or in real life. Many of the educated public