In the Garden discusses the relationships between photography, botanical images, and the cultivated landscape.
Photography has captured how humankind has used gardens from the 19th century to today. Some of the first photographs were photograms of plant materials—direct records of the structures of botanical specimens. However, 19th-century photographers also called upon the artistic tradition of still life paintings, capturing compositions of floral bouquets or objects in a garden. This practice quickly extended to portraiture, as many early photographic processes required vast amounts of light for a good exposure, and subjects were therefore often posed in gardens flooded with sunlight. As photography quickly became accepted as a method for recording the world, photographs became stand-ins for landscapes that most people could not visit, allowing the gardens of China and Japan to be brought back to Europe for enjoyment.
Drawn from the vast George Eastman Museum collection in Rochester, New York, the photographs in this exhibition explore uses of gardens and how humans cultivate the landscapes that surround them. From famous locations such as Versailles to the simplest home vegetable garden, from worlds imagined by artists to food production recorded by journalists, the subjects in this exhibition broaden our understanding of photography and how it has been used to record gardens.