Cultivating myth and composing landscape at the Villa d’este, Tivoli

Bay, Miriam Susannah Deborah (2019). Cultivating myth and composing landscape at the Villa d’este, Tivoli. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Text - Accepted Version
Available under License All rights reserved.

Download (20MB) | Preview


This thesis presents a new reconstruction and interpretation of the ideological programmes at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, devised by Pirro Ligorio for Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este from 1560 to 1572. It traces the sixteenth-century visitor’s progress through the garden, where a sculptural pantheon of classical deities and demigods located within mythically allusive settings transformed the visitor’s journey into a lushly storyboarded experience, reconfiguring the garden as a site of mythic encounter. Investigating the intersection between the visitor’s symbolic and sensory modes of experience at the Villa d’Este, this thesis pioneers a new approach to Italian Renaissance garden design, synthesising traditional interpretative approaches to iconography with innovative phenomenological methodologies from sensory anthropology and recent ecocritical perspectives on landscape in the Cinquecento. This critical framework reveals how the Villa d’Este’s iconographic schema was augmented by the multisensory effects of water features and plantings, which reoriented the visitor within physically immersive mythic locales and microcosmic visions of the surrounding Tiburtine landscape. It also results in a new ecocritical interpretation of the Villa d’Este, engaging with representations of landscape features and natural phenomena within the garden as creative expressions of and responses to environmental concerns.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Hemsoll, David
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA)
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year