Apostle of Taste
Andrew Jackson Downing, 1815–1852
LALH/University of Massachusetts Press
To order: University of Massachusetts Press
Through his many books and in the pages of the Horticulturist, the nation’s first journal about landscape gardening, Andrew Jackson Downing (1815–1852) preached a gospel of taste, promoting a naturalistic style of landscape design as the “modern” alternative to the classical geometry of the “ancient” gardens of Italy and France. Together with his longtime collaborator, Alexander Jackson Davis, Downing also contributed to an architectural revolution that sought to replace the classical revival with the Gothic revival and other romantic styles. Downing celebrated this progression not simply as a change in stylistic preference but a reflection of the nation’s evolution to a more advanced state of civilization.
In this compelling biography, issued in a new edition with a new preface, David Schuyler explores the origins of the tastemaker’s ideas in English aesthetic theory and his efforts to adapt English principles to American climate and republican social institutions. Tracing the impulse toward a native architectural style, Schuyler also demonstrates the influence of Downing’s ideas on the period’s gardens and, more broadly still, analyzes the complications of class implicit in Downing’s prescriptions for American society. The new edition is illustrated with more than 100 drawings, plans, and photographs.
“The vast amount of visual evidence combines with the material and personal history of Downing to make Apostle of Taste a must for scholars of architectural and landscape history.” —Pennsylvania History
“Schuyler’s excellent study of Downing’s writing and career, complete with excellent illustrations and an extensive, annotated bibliography, will serve as one major starting point for future studies of Downing.” —Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture
DAVID SCHUYLER is professor of American studies at Franklin and Marshall College. He is author of Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820–1909; The New Urban Landscape: The Redefinition of City Form in Nineteenth-Century America; and A City Transformed: Redevelopment, Race, and Suburbanization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1940–1980. He has served as coeditor of several volumes of the Frederick Law Olmsted Papers.