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Humphry Repton, 1752–1818
Sarsden House and Gardens, Oxfordshire: Bird's-eye View
Former Title(s):
Bird's-eye View of Sarsden House and Gardens, Oxfordshire
ca. 1795
Materials & Techniques:
Graphite and watercolor on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 9 1/2 x 12 7/8 inches (24.1 x 32.7 cm)

Inscribed on verso in graphite: "perspective view of Sarsden, seat of Sir J[ames Langston]"

Collector's mark, verso: Paul Mellon

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawing & Watercolors-Architectural
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | country house | fountain | gardens | landscape
Associated Places:
England | Europe | Oxfordshire | United Kingdom
Accessible by appointment in the Study Room [Request]
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IIIF Manifest:

As the ideological heir to Lancelo "Capability" Brown and an advocate of the Cladian ideal of the "natural" landscape, Repton coined the term "landscape gardening" to describe his method for the artful arrangement of nature. In his 1795 treatise Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening he aimed to "establish fixed principles on the art of laying ground" in his attempt to elevate landscape gardening to a "polite art" on a par with drawing. This type of drawing was one of Repton's preferred methods for introducing clients, in this case James H. Langston, to his ideas. Here he provides an ichnographic or "birds-eye" view, a form of architectural drawing mentioned by Vitruvius and advocated by Leonardo da Vinci. Traditionally, it was a popular method in England for representing country houses. Repton would compile his many drawings for each project into a red leather-bound "Red Book" for presentation to the client, complete with written descriptions and "before-and-after" overlays to demonstrate his plans for the landscape although he was not the architect of Sarden House, Repton was the architect of Sarsden's landscape, and this drawing provides insight into his art. The formal gardens of parterres and terraces near the garden façade of the house give way to a picturesque treatment in the distance, complete with serpentine lake and a classically inspired pavilion.

Morna O'Neill

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 137 cat. no. 115

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

British Architectural Drawings (Yale Center for British Art) (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-04-21 - 1982-05-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 137, no. 115, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Eric R. Wolterstorff, British architectural drawings, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 1982, p. 20, no. 28, V 0251 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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