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Title: The bird's eye views of L. Knyff and J. Kip, as published in Britannia Illustrata, and their use for studying historic landscapes
Author: McKee, Hilary Ann Frances.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3625 0560
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2004
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The thesis studies the significance of the 120 bird's-eye panoramic prints of designed landscapes by L. Knyff and 1. Kip, contained in Volumes I and 11 of Britannia Illustrata, as a unity. It examines the prints as historical documents, and assesses their use in understanding post-Restoration (1660-1710) gardens. The first volume of the work that would become Britannia Illustrata was first published in 1708 as Nouveau Theatre de la Grande Bretagne. Volume II was published, originally, in 1712 as Atkyn's Ancient and Present History of Gloucestershire. Leonard Knyff (born Harlem 1650; died London 1722) came from a family of painters specialising in birds and animals. He was the initiator and artist of the set of subscription prints of English estates belonging to nobility and gentry contained in Volume I. Johannes Kip (born Amsterdam 1653; died London 1722) worked as a draughtsman, engraver and book illustrator. Kip engraved Knyff's drawings for Volume I and Volume 11 was his work alone. Britannia Illustrata appears to be their only collaboration although their names have always been subsequently linked together. These prints are early English examples of the Bird's-eye form, or 3 dimensional perspectives drawn from above. The result is a cross between a landscape view and a map. The study is based on site visits between 1999 and 2003. It also draws on Ordnance Survey maps; estate maps; estate accounts, dockets and vouchers; contemporary gardening books and works of other printmakerslartists. The thesis contains case studies of Combe Abbey, Hampstead Marshall, Cassiobury Park, Hutton-in-theForest, Ragley Hall, Great Ribston, Newby, Wollaton Hall, Wimpole and Longleat from Volume I and Cassey Compton or Little Compton, Dumbleton, Leckhampton, Coberly, Fairford, Tortworth, Hailes Abbey, Westbury-on-Severn and Dyrham from Volume 11 as well as discussions of numerous other landscapes from the collection. The main conclusions are that the dismissive view of 18th and 19th century historians of the Britannia Illustrata Kip and Knyff engravings as works of imagination designed to flatter rich patrons is unfounded. The more recent tendency to accept prints uncritically as historically accurate is equally dangerous. The study found ample evidence that the prints are largely accurate, and that many anomalies can be explained. The prints are, therefore, immensely valuable for understanding the gardening trends, fashions and influences of designed landscapes of the period. However, whilst being enormously detailed, they do not contain enough information on materials and plantings to act as a blue print for garden conservation or restoration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available