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Garden Politics: Italian Renaissance Gardens in Postwar Italy

Thalia Allington-Wood, University College London, Junior Fellow 2017–2018, Spring

My project was to critically evaluate the mid-twentieth-century rediscovery of the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo (ca. 1550–1580) as it was presented in scholarly articles, journalism, photography, and film in postwar Italy. Prior to this moment the Sacro Bosco had been almost entirely forgotten. I asked, why did the Sacro Bosco become of such interest in this specific moment and why was it previously overlooked? Investigating this moment of reemergence helps us understand, and modify, prevailing academic narratives about Bomarzo, and garden history more broadly. Garden scholarship during Italy’s fascist years has been well studied, but the following period has been little investigated. The fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks was invaluable to this project. It is one of the only institutions in the world where I could access the range of materials needed for this study, including important postwar publications on Bomarzo. Having the dedicated time and space to read this material and contextualize my archival material from Italy was incredibly helpful, allowing me to complete two chapters of my dissertation. I also participated in a panel at the Society of Architectural Historians annual conference, which will result in a journal publication: a fantastic opportunity.