“Picturesque” was a prized term that sparked multiple opinions around its meaning. Early contributor Humphry Repton was an active and opinionated participant. Repton invented “picture gardening” or “landscape gardening” by blending ideas about artificially naturalizing land (gardening) with ideas of the landscape painter (seeking order and harmony). He wrote, “The perfection of Landscape Gardening consists in the fullest attention to these principles: Utility, Proportion, and Unity or harmony of parts to the whole.” His ideas of extended scale, continuity, and characteristic architecture and landscaping embraced the picturesque ideals.
Repton provided his landowning clients with finished proposals for improvement and landscaping titled Red Books. Observations (1803), on display here, features the distilled principles from nearly 200 Red Books.