The first chapters of Genesis feature a vision of paradise in an idyllic setting—a lush and peaceful garden full of flowing water and plenteous fruit. Perhaps out of a desire to return to that lost paradise, the ideal garden in both Christian and Muslim tradition has been based on that Edenic exemplar.
Through illuminated manuscripts and illustrated books from 15th-century France and 16th-century Iran, Paradise Imagined: The Garden in the Islamic and Christian World explores the art of the garden as an expression of religious devotion, kingly justice, poetic inspiration and carnal love. Despite the broad cultural gap, the Christian and Islamic illustrations similarly depict the garden as a place of learning and transformation.
For those more horticulturally inclined, the works on display also offer a glimpse of changing garden styles and layouts, where angelic beings present a flowering coat of arms in a geometric French garden in “Kings in a Garden” from the 15th-century Chronique des Rois de France (Chronicles of the Kings of France).
Through September 23, 2012
The Walters Art Museum Baltimore, Maryland