Foreign Landscape Gardeners in the Romanian Principalities

foreign landscape gardeners in the romanian principalities A feature about Bucharest's main parks and gardens and their designers


With the growing influence of Western civilization in Romania in the early 19th century, several sectors emerged as a result of modernization were insufficiently developed. Therefore, rulers and noblemen in the Romanian Principalities - Moldavia and Wallachia brought foreign specialists that should fill the gaps.


Apart from architects, physicians, teachers or engineers, landscape gardeners were also commissioned. The most popular public garden in Bucharest, Cismigiu Park, was designed by some of these landscape gardeners in the second half of the 1840s, and the park officially opened its doors in 1854. The ruler of Wallachia at the time, Gheorghe Bibescu, summoned the German-born landscape gardeners Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer, the official landscape gardeners of the Viennese imperial court. Although well-known to the public today, Meyer was not the only foreign artist who contributed to the park design, all the more so as he died at 38 years of age, in 1852. Here is landscape artist Alexandru Mexi.


Alexandru Mexi: "Unlike the Kiseleff gardens, Cismigiu Park underwent several stages of transformation, some more severe, others less so. The most important changes were operated by Wilhelm Knechtel in the 1880s, and the most known changes, which are part of the present-day design of the park, were implemented in 1920 by Friedrich Rebhun. Wilhelm Knechtel was commissioned for other projects as well in Wallachia, including the gardens of Peles Castle. He also designed the cobblestone forest routes. In the 19th century and the early 20th century the French landscape artists Edouard Redont and Emile Pinard also helped design several public gardens, of which the best known is Romanescu Park in Craiova. They also worked in Caracal, designing the Constantin Poroineanu Park as well as several private gardens in the area Arges Muscel. Pinard also worked in Floresti, Breaza and Busteni in Prahova County".


In the 19th century the design standard for the conception of public or private gardens all over the world was the English garden. Later, in the 20th century, the French style became prominent. In Wallachia, however, foreign landscape artists observed the local specificity. Alexandru Mexi has more on the issue.


Alexandru Mexi: "Wilhelm Meyer, Wilhelm Knechtel and Friedrich Rebhun as well as other artists from the German cultural space took over certain local specific elements and sought to adapt them and introduce them in gardens in Wallachia and Moldova. As regards the French landscape gardeners, their works are closer to the French style of landscaping rather than the local color. Redont also published a book about Bibescu Park, the name of the current Romanescu Park in Craiova, shortly after its inauguration. All the blueprints and drawings in the book are very similar to those published by a well-known specialized publication in France. Therefore their pool of knowledge was quite extensive and they tried to apply the principles they studied without hesitation".


In the second half of the 19th century, as the European market was suffused with architects and landscape gardeners, those established in Wallachia prospered doing their job, amassing quite a fortune and feeling at home in Romanian society. One such example was Friedrich Rebhun, who adapted quite well to life in Bucharest, although at first he saw the Romanian capital city as merely a stopover on his journey to Japan. Alexandru Mexi:


Alexandru Mexi: "Freidrich Rebhun arrived in Bucharest around 1910, and the last documented mention of him was in 1958, after some 50 years of acclimatization. During his time here he published several materials, including a book that appealed to Romanian specificity and the specificity of certain cities. It was around that time that the draft outline for the current Herastrau Park was created, in the early 1930s, which was supposed to be called the National Park. Rebhun criticized the plants cultivated in the park, claiming the vegetation of a national park should include endemic plants as well. Many of the exotic plants that were acclimatized here did not last, others did. For instance, Cismigiu Park is still home to a few old species of plane tree, as well as Japanese acacia. Some are still preserved in the Peles gardens. Back then it was a game of chance, you couldn't know for sure if the plants would adapt to the climate of Romania's different cities. At the time nursery gardens were scarce in Romania, and most plants were imported from Austria and Italy. The National Archives still store a large number of invoices, receipts and lists of plants that were imported from Austrian or Italian nurseries".
Publicat: 2019-08-18 12:19:00
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