Of Gardens & Books

Of gardens and Books / April 28 – September 9, 2018


The exhibition invites visitors to discover a major cultural phenomenon: the constant interchange between garden and book, and within book and garden.

Reference will be made to Eden, epic gardens, the purgatory garden, the gardens of Venus and the Virgin Mary Garden, and to Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream as a pattern book for European gardens. Orlando Furioso makes up the subtext for the Gardens of Bomarzo; a key passage of Paradise Lost will be the aesthetic point of origin of the English Garden while Goethe’s Elective Affinities and garden visions, dreams and projects of great authors will be dealt with.

Structured as a place to leisurely walk through, the exhibition opens up the fascinating world of the garden represented in books as a physical place and an intellectual construct.

From ancient Babylon to today’s world, the exhibition presents, from a diachronic perspective, the most important documents reflecting the ever-present interest in gardens through time, national traditions and genres such as epics, poetry, prose, scientific theories, or manuals.

Present as well is the success of the “beautiful garden book” as a novelty and capstone of the art of the book; among those are the one’s noted for their exceptional workmanship, introducing existing gardens or garden projects, as well as unfairly forgotten books, such as the Fruits Walls Improved by the Swiss mathematician, natural philosopher, and inventor Nicolas Fatio de Duillier.

Curators: Michael Jakob and Jacques Berchtold
Scenography: Saskia Zurcher



The Martin Bodmer Foundation thanks for their contribution to this exhibition and the exhibition book :

  • La République et Canton de Genève
  • Une fondation privée genevoise
  • La Fondation Kepos
  • Ernst Göhner Stiftung
  • Monsieur Rémy Best
  • Monsieur Nicolas Pictet
  • Monsieur Richard de Tscharner
  • Madame Clarina Firmenich