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Ex Horto: Dumbarton Oaks Texts in Garden and Landscape Studies
The Rustic Style
Ernst Kris

Originating as a doctoral dissertation and first published in 1926, Ernst Kris’s The Rustic Style was a pioneering inquiry into the relationship between art and nature in early modern decorative arts and garden design. A work by a young Viennese museum curator who would subsequently make his name as a leading psychoanalyst, this precocious study was an attempt to define the character of late sixteenth-century naturalism that put scientific observation at the service of elite artistic production. The result was an ambivalent blend of lifelike plasticity, organic texturing, and material richness, in which the use of advanced technologies, such as lifecasting, deliberately blurred the boundary between products of natural processes and human craft. This hybrid aesthetic, which Kris described as the “rustic style,” was championed by two main protagonists of his essay, the goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer and the ceramist Bernard Palissy. It found a broader characteristic expression in the design of Renaissance grottos, where the classical iconography and all’antica ornamentation often came to encode the environmental knowledge of the age. This edition of The Rustic Style, accompanied by two introductory essays by Robert Felfe and Anatole Tchikine, is made available in English for the first time in a masterly translation by Linda B. Parshall. A long overdue tribute to Kris’s pathbreaking scholarship, this lavishly illustrated book should appeal to anyone interested in the intersections of early modern art and natural history.