The Oaks News
2012 Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium
The intricate interrelationship between urban context and food production, central to the current debate on sustainability, was the focus of the 2012 Garden and Landscape Studies symposium at Dumbarton Oaks. The conference explored the links between culture and cultivation, with particular attention to the modern era and urbanization schemes that engaged the production of food, either as a means to achieve self-sufficiency, or as part of a ruralist perspective. As the city displaced food production further from its center, the relationship between living, working, and eating became more abstract. Today, this relationship is tested across planning and community design schemes: American suburban developments include agricultural land as a conservation measure and a nostalgic nod to a pre-agribusiness countryside; European designers focus on the suburban-rural interface to develop a new type of productive landscape, one performing simultaneously as an open space system and an agricultural laboratory; and in cities like Kampala, Uganda, or Rosario, Argentina, urban agriculture is part of a participatory design process that integrates housing programs.
Organized by Dorothée Imbert, the symposium provided a critical historical framework for today's urban agriculture by discussing the multiple scales, ideologies, and contexts of productive landscapes, from allotment gardens to regional plans. Topics included the production and distribution of food in relation to human settlement and urban form, from German Siedlungen to Italian Fascist new towns, and Israeli kibbutzim to contemporary Tokyo. The conference placed particular emphasis on the efforts of modern and early-modern landscape architects, garden designers, and architects/planners to reconcile the demands of feeding cities and regions with the exigencies of urban expansion.
Cécile Morrisson and Stephen Zwirn
Dumbarton Oaks’ world famous collection of Byzantine objects is equaled in importance and diversity by its collection of Byzantine coins and medallions. It comprises more than 12,000 specimens and covers the entire history of the long-lived empire. Although the collection includes some representative examples from the third century, comprehensive documentation begins with Constantine the Great (r. 306–337), who founded Constantinople in 324 CE, and continues through all the imperial rulers, many empresses, and even a number of usurpers up to the last legitimate ruler, Constantine XI (r. 1449–1453), who died defending the capital city against the Ottoman Turks.
There are examples of all the denominations struck at different times in the economic history of Byzantium, including gold, silver, bronze, electrum, and copper issues that, in five major catalogues, have been interpreted and made available to the scholarly and interested public.
The featured example below (BZC.1949.5) is a medallion of Constantine II (Caesar, 317–337; Augustus, 337–340) and was issued in Thessalonike in the year 326 or 327. Its diameter of 32 mm (1 ¼ inches) and weight of 13.5 grams speak to its outstanding value. It is a special coin, a multiple of the solidus—the standard gold coin weighing 4.5 grams minted for commercial transactions—struck as a commemorative medallion to mark an imperial anniversary. This three-solidi medallion celebrated the tenth year (decennalia) of Constantine II as Caesar.
The outstanding coin has a very well documented long record of ownership. It was purchased by Dumbarton Oaks from the J. Pierpont Morgan Library Collection in 1949; previously it was in the Consul E. F. Weber Collection (sold in 1909); and before that in the Vicomte Ponton d’Amécourt Collection (sold in Paris in 1887).
A considerable number of late Roman coins of the fourth century, together with a substantial number of medallions from the same period, form a significant part of the numismatic collection. The medallions were published in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 12 (1958) by Alfred R. Bellinger and the gold and silver coins of the late third and fourth centuries in Dumbarton Oaks Papers 18 (1964) by Alfred R. Bellinger et al.
The most recent article discussing imperial medallions distributed as largesse is soon to appear in J.-M. Spieser, E. Yota, ed., Donation et donateurs à Byzance, Réalités byzantines 14 (2012): 25-46, written by Dumbarton Oaks’ Numismatics Advisor Cécile Morrisson.
Museum plans for the near future include adding a ‘timeline of Byzantine emperors’ to our website that will present all the Byzantine rulers from Constantine the Great to Constantine XI, each illustrated by a coin from the collection, and presenting the entire collection online, modeled after the Byzantine Seals Online Catalogue.
Obverse (left): Bust of Constantine, a son of Constantine the Great, facing left with a laurel crown, wearing a paludamentum (military cape) and holding a globe surmounted by a Victory in his right hand and an eagle-topped scepter or sword in his left. Inscription: CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB CAES.
Reverse (right): Two genii facing each other and holding a garland of flowers. Inscription: VOTIS DECENN D N CONSTANTINI CAES. In the exergue (below the ground line): SMTS.
Dumbarton Oaks in the News, May 2012
Cloud Terrace was featured twice on Patty Szymkowicz’s blog, Magpie’s Nest. The blog includes photos by Stephen Jerrome of Cao/Perrot Studio.
New scholarship from Cécile Morrisson and Joel Kalvesmaki
Cécile Morrisson, Advisor for Byzantine Numismatics, participated in the LX Settimana di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo in Spoleto (April 12–17, 2012) on the theme “Il Fuoco nell'alto Medioevo [Fire in the early Middle Ages]” with a paper entitled “Feu et combustible dans l'économie byzantine.”
Joel Kalvesmaki’s article “The Epistula fidei of Evagrius of Pontus: An Answer to Constantinople” was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Early Christian Studies (20, no. 1 [Spring 2012]: 113–39). Joel is Editor in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.
Kuba Kabala, "Frontier Spaces: Eastern Europe, 800–1000 A.D."
In 2010, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection inaugurated a new pre-doctoral fellowship scheme, the William R. Tyler Fellowships. Eligible applicants are Harvard graduate students working on dissertations in art history, archaeology, history, or literature of the Pre-Columbian or Mediterranean/Byzantine worlds. The Fellowship funds a first year of research travel overseas and a second year in residence at Dumbarton Oaks to complete the dissertation and contribute to an institutional project that is related to the fellows’ research. We are pleased to introduce Kuba Kabala, who is part of the first cohort of Tyler Fellows arriving at Dumbarton Oaks in the fall of 2012. Kuba writes:
I am writing my dissertation on the emergence and development of the Slavic world between Byzantium and Latin Christendom during the ninth and tenth centuries. My research is in large part a philological and archaeological analysis of Slavic borderlands: Byzantium’s northern frontier on the one hand and the Carolingian/Ottonian eastern frontier on the other. I take a two-pronged approach. First, I investigate how Byzantines, Slavs, and Latin westerners imagined and understood borders and space in their written works, how this imagination developed over time, and how it differed across the languages of my sources: Greek, Slavonic, and Latin. Second, I am studying the ninth- and tenth-century archaeological remains of the area to trace movement, contact, and confrontation in the borderlands. I am spending 2011–2012 as a visiting scholar at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main. Early in the fall I worked briefly on the excavation of Tarquimpol, a fortified city near the late antique Roman border in France. The library of the Römisch-Germanische Kommission has provided a great environment especially for my archaeological research. I continue to build geodatabases of archaeological finds in the Slavic borderlands, including Byzantine coin finds in ninth- and tenth-century Bulgaria, a subject I began to investigate at the Dumbarton Oaks Coins & Seals Summer School in 2011.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Boone and Jack Tannous
Professor Elizabeth Boone, Dumbarton Oaks Senior Fellow in Pre-Columbian Studies and Professor of Art History in the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University in New Orleans, was recently elected to both the Academia Mexicana de la Historia and the American Academy of Art and Sciences.
In April, Jack Tannous, Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Byzantine Studies, accepted the post of Assistant Professor of Late Antiquity in the Department of History at Princeton University. Jack will begin at Princeton on September 1st. The Byzantine Studies program, and the entire community of Dumbarton Oaks are immensely proud of this achievement, and wish Jack all the best in his new post.
2012 Byzantine Studies Symposium
The short period of Byzantine rule in the Maghreb belies the region’s importance to the empire in the sixth and seventh centuries. Given the profound economic and strategic significance of the province of “Africa,” the territory was also highly contested in the Byzantine period—by the empire itself, Berber kingdoms, and eventually also Muslim Arabs—as each of these groups sought to gain, retain control of, and exploit the region to its own advantage. In light of this charged history, scholars have typically taken the failure of the Byzantine endeavor in Africa as a foregone conclusion. The symposium sought to reassess this pessimistic vision both by examining those elements of Romano-African identity that provided continuity in a period of remarkable transition, and by seeking to understand the transformations in African society in the context of developments in the larger post-Roman Mediterranean. An international group of researchers from North America, Europe, and North Africa, including both well-established and emerging scholars, addressed topics including the legacy of Vandal rule in Africa, historiography and literature, art and architectural history, the archaeology of cities and their rural hinterlands, the economy, the family, theology, the cult of saints, Berbers, and the Islamic conquest, in an effort to consider the ways in which the imperial legacy was re-interpreted, re-imagined, and put to new uses in Byzantine and early Islamic Africa.
New from Dumbarton Oaks Publications
Publications is pleased to announce the arrival of Dumbarton Oaks Papers 64. This issue continues the journal's tradition of presenting pathbreaking and enduring scholarship in Byzantine Studies at the highest standards of production. The joint project of former and current directors of Byzantine Studies Alice-Mary Talbot and Margaret Mullett, volume 64 of the journal also includes a contribution from Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Byzantine Studies. Congratulations to all!
Special exhibition in the Dumbarton Oaks Museum
This exhibition of paintings and furniture juxtaposes two distinct yet related artistic genres. In a still life the artist depicts the world up-close and often in detail. In a landscape the world is viewed from afar. Despite these differences, the two art forms share common ground—they both represent the world around us.
The artworks in Still Life & Landscape, all from the Dumbarton Oaks historic House Collection, range in date from the early sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Artists in the exhibition include Claude Lorrain, Jan van Huysum, David Roentgen, Odilon Redon, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Still Life and Landscape can be viewed in the Special Exhibition Gallery during the Museum’s opening hours, 2pm-5pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
Rare book exhibition in the Dumbarton Oaks Library
Historical and archaeological research into the ancient and medieval periods of the Maghreb must confront the legacy of nineteenth-century colonialist enterprises. In honor of the Byzantine spring symposium, "Rome Re-Imagined: Byzantine and Early Islamic North Africa, 500–800," a new rare book exhibition in the Library invites viewers to reflect on the nineteenth-century authors and publications that contributed to the creation of this legacy. Featured items include Alphonse de Lamartine’s Voyage en Orient, Charles Tissot’s Exploration scientifique de la Tunisie, Nathan Davis’s Carthage and her remains, the Beechey brothers’ Proceedings of the expedition to explore the northern coast of Africa, Smith and Porcher’s Discoveries at Cyrene, and items by Adrien Berbrugger, Stephane Gsell, and other influential nineteenth-century scholars of Roman Africa. The exhibition will be up through July 15 in the Dumbarton Oaks Library.
ICFA exhibition in the Bliss Gallery
The Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) presents From Clearing to Cataloging: The Corpus of Tunisian Mosaics, an exhibit that highlights the Margaret Alexander Collection at Dumbarton Oaks. The Collection contains documents and photographs that relate to the fieldwork and publication of the Corpus des Mosaïques de Tunisie (CMT), or Corpus of Tunisian Mosaics. The CMT was launched in 1967 to create a catalog of Roman and Late Antique mosaics in Tunisia and was co-directed by Margaret Alexander until 1994. The project was administered through the Foreign Currency Program of the Smithsonian Institution, and was sponsored by various institutions such as Dumbarton Oaks and the University of Iowa. The CMT team focused on clearing, preserving, and cataloging pavement mosaics found in private residences and Christian basilicas. To obtain reliable dates for the mosaics, they used evidence buried in or near the mosaics, including coins and pottery fragments. The CMT team members carried out the archaeological work at four major sites in Tunisia—Utica, Thuburbo Majus, El Jem, and Carthage—before publishing a four-volume catalog of over 1,000 mosaics dating from the first to the fifth centuries CE.
The exhibit includes selections from the Margaret Alexander Collection in ICFA, and can be viewed in the Bliss Gallery during the Museum’s open hours. These archival items date from the 1960s to 1990s and demonstrate the process of the fieldwork and publication of the CMT project. The exhibit was developed to coincide with the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies symposium in April 2012, "Rome Re-Imagined: Byzantine and Early Islamic Africa, c. 500–800."
Robin Pokorski, ICFA Intern
Rona Razon, Archives Specialist
Hillary Olcott, Museum Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator
Christopher Harrison, Senior Exhibits Technician and Cabinetmaker
Contemporary art installation by Cao | Perrot Studio
Dumbarton Oaks announces the creation of Cloud Terrace, a new contemporary art installation in the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens by artists Andy Cao and Xavier Perrot of Cao | Perrot Studio, Los Angeles and Paris, in collaboration with J.P. Paull of Bodega Architecture.
Cloud Terrace takes the form of a hand-sculpted wire mesh cloud suspended over the Arbor Terrace and embellished with 10,000 Swarovski elements water-drop crystals mirrored in a reflecting pool.
The Arbor Terrace is one of the most modified spaces in the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens. Originally designed by Beatrix Farrand in the early 1930s as a simple rectangular herb garden, bordered on the west by a wisteria-covered arbor and on the east and north by a hedge of Kieffer pears, it was refashioned by Farrand’s former associate Ruth Havey in the 1950s as a pot garden centered on a Rococo-style parterre with low, Doria stone parapet walls. The space can be hot and bright; Cao | Perrot’s installation is a response to these conditions, extending the shade of the arbor across the terrace and animating the space inside the parterre with an oval pool surrounded by bluestone pebbles.
Cao | Perrot studio have a stunning list of projects to their credit, including temporary site-specific installations at the American Academy in Rome, the Potager du Roi, Versailles, the Tuileries, Paris, the Medici Fountain in the Luxembourg Gardens, and many of the world’s leading garden festivals. Cao | Perrot studio are also responsible for the winning design of the 600-acre Guangming New Town Central Park in Shenzhen, China, a collaboration with Lee + Mundwiler Architects, which received an AIA 2009 National Honor Award for Urban Design. For more information on the artists, please visit www.caoperrotstudio.com.
The installation was organized by John Beardsley, Director of Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, and Gail Griffin, Director of Gardens, with the particular assistance of staff members Jane Padelford and Walter Howell. It is the third in a series of contemporary art installations at Dumbarton Oaks, following projects by Charles Simonds in 2009 and Patrick Dougherty in 2010. The series is intended to provide fresh interpretations and experiences of the Gardens and art collections of Dumbarton Oaks. The project was built with the assistance of twenty-six volunteers and supported by Swarovski Elements, who provided the crystals used for the installation.
To bid farewell to this year’s fellows, Special Projects Librarian Sarah Burke and Fellowships Coordinator Kathleen Lane organized, in connection with the library exhibition Mirabilia, a Miracle Fruit Fête. All staff and fellows were invited to try a berry that changes the flavor of the food that is eaten after it. The lively event took place on the Bowling Green on May 2. Firsthand reports indicate that the berry lived up to its miraculous propaganda—those who had eaten claim that for at least 30 minutes after eating the fruit sour foods like rhubarb and lemon tasted sweet.
Lisa Trever, "Moche Mural Painting and Practice at Pañamarca: A Study of Image Making in Ancient Peru"
In 2010, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection inaugurated a new pre-doctoral fellowship scheme, the William R. Tyler Fellowships. Eligible applicants are Harvard graduate students working on dissertations in art history, archaeology, history, or literature of the Pre-Columbian or Mediterranean/Byzantine worlds. Lisa Trever, the fourth of our incoming Tyler Fellows, is a Pre-Columbianist studying Moche murals. She writes:
"My dissertation project is an art historical study of the mural paintings found within the adobe temples of the late Moche center of Pañamarca (c. 600–900 CE), located on the north-central coast of Peru. Mine is a contextualized study of the relationships between painted images and architectural spaces that includes mural paintings known since the mid-twentieth century and others discovered by my dissertation fieldwork. Continued analysis in 2011–12 focuses on visual and stratigraphic analysis of the multiple, superimposed layers of painting observed on temple walls as well as residue analysis of liquids splashed on the walls as libations. The paintings of Pañamarca form part of an ancient Moche visual and ritual tradition wherein mimesis and pictorial narrative were central representational concepts. I ground this study in a discussion of the philosophical foundations of mimesis, both in the west and as might be recovered from visual and material evidence that underscores the importance of corporeality and embodiment in ancient Moche artistic and ritual practice. I interpret the Pañamarca paintings as images to be seen, experienced, and physically engaged with in real social spaces and during different moments in time. In particular this study analyzes the phenomenological effects and performative capabilities of canonical Moche mural paintings within the site’s Ceremonial Plaza, Platform II, and newly discovered Recinto de los Pilares Pintados. These temple paintings served to model ritual behavior and embody religious doctrine as they effectively participated in the instantiation of the late Moche presence at the southern frontier.
3D Modeling of Cultural Heritage
On Friday, April 6, the Dumbarton Oaks community enjoyed a visit from Bernard Frischer, Professor of Art History and Classics at the University of Virginia, where he is also Director of the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory. Professor Frischer gave an engaging multimedia presentation in the Founders' Room on his team's application of 3D digital tools to the simulation of cultural heritage artifacts and sites. The talk was timely, since the VWHL projects help identify issues and challenges that Dumbarton Oaks will want to consider as it develops its own 3D digital models.
One of the 3D models presented by Professor Frischer was of fourth-century Rome, digitally rebuilt and designed to be a pedagogical tool. He noted that the process of assembling the model prompted scholars to make new observations and discoveries. Other examples of his models can be viewed at http://www.digitalsculpture.org/, which tackles the barriers often faced by 3D modeling when attending to the complex geometry characteristic of sculpture. Showcasing sculptures from the University of Virginia (Caligula) and the Dresden State Museum (Pan-Nymph), Professor Frischer demonstrated how difficult art-historical questions of interpretation can be illuminated using computer modeling.
Dumbarton Oaks in the news, April 2012
Dumbarton Oaks was featured in the Washingtonian’s April cover story, 61 Hidden Gems. The article highlighted the Museum’s “impressive collection of pre-Columbian art, artifacts from the Byzantine Empire, and European masterpieces.” You can peruse the list here, and find Dumbarton Oaks in the item titled Don’t Bypass the Byzantine.
The recent article in the Washington Post, Music Review: A Far Cry at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, favorably reviewed performances at Dumbarton Oaks by the Boston-based ensemble, A Far Cry. The 17-member string ensemble performed in the Music Room at Dumbarton Oaks on the evenings of April 22nd and 23rd as part of the Friends of Music Concert Series. The back-to-back performances by A Far Cry marked the end of the 2011–2012 concert season at Dumbarton Oaks.
Local public gardens were the subject of a recent online edition of the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide. Entitled Flora to Fawn Over, the piece features Andy Cao’s and Xavier Perrot’s Cloud Terrace as item number 39.
Tylka Vetula, Serials and Acquisitions Librarian, retires May 2012
The entire Dumbarton Oaks community and the library staff in particular will be sorry to see a beloved colleague retire this month. Tylka Vetula, Serials and Acquisitions Librarian extraordinaire, will leave behind an undeniable void, and will be truly missed when she leaves Dumbarton Oaks at the end of April after eight years of service. Friends and colleagues gathered on April 23 to bid Tylka a fond farewell and wish her luck in the future.
Launch of the official Dumbarton Oaks Library and Archives Facebook page
Dumbarton Oaks Library and Archives are pleased to announce the launch of the official Dumbarton Oaks Library and Archives Facebook page created by the library and archives staff. This page represents the wide variety of collections and projects from the Research Library, Rare Book Collection, Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, and the Dumbarton Oaks Archives. Through this page we hope to further the overall mission of Dumbarton Oaks by sharing information about our multi-formatted collections, as well as the institutional history of Dumbarton Oaks.
Our page officially launched April 14, 2012, on the 104th wedding anniversary of Robert and Mildred Bliss, who were married on April 14, 1908.
Please visit, “Like”, and share our new Facebook page!
ICFA, DO Conversations, and the Gardens are all blogging
Blogs are a great way to communicate with a large and geographically disparate audience. They can also provide up-close and in-depth examinations of materials, processes, and events that aren't accessible to the general public. Dumbarton Oaks has several blogs that achieve all these goals, with plans for several more in the works.
Want to learn more about how a large collection of research and fieldwork papers are processed, or get a sneak peek at some great archaeological records? The Robert L. Van Nice Collection, a processing blog for the Robert L. Van Nice Records and Fieldwork Papers (1937–1985) at the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives, is full of interesting finds and descriptions of archival processing work.
The online component for and record of The DO Conversations series, which offers opportunities to staff and fellows to participate in cross-disciplinary and interdepartmental discussions on a weekly basis, has an online component too! Check the DO/Conversations blog to learn more about this series of events.
Managed and authored by the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens staff, What's Blooming at DO is the official Dumbarton Oaks gardens blog. Featuring stunning photos of plants, insects, and garden architecture, this blog is a great way to experience the beauty of the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens whether you are able to visit them in person or not.
Allen Grieco (PhD École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) is Lila Acheson Wallace Assistant Director of Gardens and Grounds & Scholarly Programs as well as Senior Research Associate in History at Villa I Tatti (The Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies). In April 2012 he was Visiting Scholar in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks.
Dr. Grieco has published extensively on the cultural history of food in Italy from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries and co-edited several collective volumes, amongst which are Food Excesses and Constraints in Europe, special issue of Food & History (2006), Dalla vite al vino. Fonti e problemi della vitivinicultura italiana nel medioevo (Bologna, 1994), and Le Monde végétal (XIIe–XVIIe siècles): savoirs et usages sociaux (Vincennes, 1993). Currently co-editor-in-chief of Food & History (Turnhout, Brepols), he is also in charge of a bibliographic project on the history of food in Europe funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He has taught at Harvard, Florence, and Bologna, and has created an English-language graduate program at the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche, Pollenzo (Italy).
Q. Dr. Grieco, you have come to Dumbarton Oaks to conduct research on the gardens of Cecil Pinsent (1884–1963). How have your responsibilities as director of the gardens at Villa I Tatti led you to pursue this project?
I have been at I Tatti for 23 years, where I spend about half my time overseeing the gardens and grounds. These include not only the gardens proper (7 acres) but also a surrounding agricultural landscape of about 66 acres that includes olives and vines. Careful management requires making historically-informed decisions regarding maintenance and restoration in order to ensure that the original character of the landscape is respected, even as it is allowed to evolve. So from both a practical and a scholarly point of view, it is essential to understand the history of the site as it was designed through the collaboration of the patrons with their landscape architect and architect.
The villa was acquired by Bernard and Mary Berenson in 1901 and bequeathed to Harvard University in 1960. An existing farmhouse was redesigned by the architect Geoffrey Scott as the Berenson residence, and Bernard Berenson’s friend and associate Cecil Pinsent began work on the gardens in 1909. Construction progressed through several phases, was interrupted by World War I, and then completed in 1919–25.
Over the years I have been able to piece together through various sources the general evolution of the gardens. My initial interest in Pinsent’s work grew out of this practical need to understand the history of I Tatti, but it has expanded to include Pinsent’s career as a whole. I am particularly interested in how I Tatti, his first major garden, fits into his larger body of work.
Q. Prior to your arrival at Dumbarton Oaks, what have you have you been able to learn by consulting primary materials such as plans and letters in the holdings of the Berenson Library at I Tatti?
The holdings at I Tatti have provided insights into certain phases of gardens’ construction, with glimpses of Pinsent’s conversations with the Berensons, particularly with Mary, through correspondence, as well as some preserved building permits that help document construction. There is also a collection of historical photographs that show the state of the gardens, as well as the larger site, during the various phases of construction. However, we are at a great disadvantage in reconstructing this history because Pinsent burned the vast majority of his papers and drawings before he died.
Q. With so many gaps in the primary materials related to Pinsent’s work, what are you hoping to find in the Dumbarton Oaks library?
My research at Dumbarton Oaks focuses not so much on Pinsent’s work at I Tatti, but rather on the contextualization of his design approach within the broader world of landscape architecture during the early twentieth century. For this purpose, the library’s holdings have been especially helpful because of their depth—not only in early twentieth-century monographs on garden design but also in garden and design periodicals of that period. It is this broader view that I have had difficulty constructing elsewhere and that the time here at Dumbarton Oaks has been so useful in addressing.
Q. What is the potential scholarly significance of the project?
I plan to publish this research as a series of articles on the gardens of I Tatti, or perhaps as a monograph on Pinsent’s work as a whole. As significant as Pinsent was in his time, and especially given his prolific output, it is curious that he has been largely ignored by scholars. He began to attract some notice in the 1980s, and there have been a few articles and one conference on him since that time, but much of the discussion has been anecdotal rather than analytic and interpretive. I am hoping to draw attention to Pinsent’s qualities as a designer, and to reassess his significance for early twentieth-century landscape architecture.