Saturday, November 17, 2012


A Cottage in Woody Country

John Ruskin (1819-1900), The Poetry of Architecture (New York: John Wiley & Son, 1873), pp. 74-75:
This being the case, it is evident that the chief feeling induced by woody country is one of reverence for its antiquity. There is a quiet melancholy about the decay of the patriarchal trunks, which is enhanced by the green and elastic vigour of the young saplings; the noble form of the forest aisles, and the subdued light which penetrates their entangled boughs, combine to add to the impression; and the whole character of the scene is calculated to excite conservative feeling. The man who could remain a radical in a wood country is a disgrace to his species.

Now, this feeling of mixed melancholy and veneration is the one of all others which the modern cottage must not be allowed to violate. It may be fantastic or rich in detail; for the one character will make it look old-fashioned, and the other will assimilate with the intertwining of leaf and bough around it: but it must not be spruce, or natty, or very bright in colour; and the older it looks the better.

A little grotesqueness in form is the more allowable, because the imagination is naturally active in the obscure and indefinite daylight of wood scenery; conjures up innumerable beings, of every size and shape, to people its alleys and smile through its thickets; and is by no means displeased to find some of its inventions half-realized in a decorated panel or grinning extremity of a rafter.

Meindert Hobbema (1638-1709), A Cottage in the Woods

Hat tip: Eric Thomson

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