Wilhelm Gottlieb Beckers Werk »Der Plauische Grund« (1799) und sein Konzept der »Gartenlandschaften«

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragen


In the 1790s, at a time when the early landscape garden art in German-speaking countries was often criticised for being small-scaled, overloaded and dedicated to art rather than nature, Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker (1753–1813) began to contribute to the debate with garden publications, offering solutions.
The culmination of these efforts was his work »Der Plauische Grund bei Dresden. Mit Hinsicht auf Naturgeschichte und Schöne Gartenkunst« (1799), a highly remarkable book for its time. It is a plea for the programme of the embellished landscape, because in addition to the description of the scenic features of the valley that gave the book its name (the approximately 2,600-hectare section of the Weißeritz valley south of the Saxon state capital, which stretches from Dresden-Plauen to Tharandt), Becker deliberately included comments on its embellishment. With the term »Gartenlandschaft« (»garden landscape«), Becker created a visionary concept for the park-like reinterpretation of an entire section of landscape, thus initiating a new approach to garden art at the transition from the early to the »classical« landscape garden – an expansive typology of landscape garden art that takes place outside the palace and manor house grounds and their boundary fences and thus in public space.
In addition, he expanded the book into an interdisciplinary panorama, including contributions from eminent scientists in the fields of geology, mineralogy, botany and entomology in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the landscape at a time when the respective disciplines themselves were still in their infancy. This holistic approach to landscape was highly innovative in the context of contemporary comparative studies and makes Becker's book a milestone in the history of science.
Given the innovative spirit of the book and Becker's network of prominent names, it is all the more surprising that the author and his work have received so little attention to date. A study of them therefore not only offers an important snapshot of the transition from the early to the mature, classical landscape garden, but also promises to give a more concrete understanding of the approaches that led to a new landscape aesthetic, known since the beginning of the 19th century as »land improvement«.
This article aims to provide an insight into key passages of the book »Der Plauische Grund« and an overview of Becker's theoretical framework for landscape embellishment. The concerns, aesthetic principles and motivation of this programme are also discussed and the extent to which the embellished landscape can be distinguished from the landscape garden is examined (it has a much larger surface area; its development involves less effort, cost and artificiality through the use of existing resources and minimally invasive human intervention; it does not end at an artificial boundary but at topographical spatial boundaries; there are few literary or architectural references, the focus being on natural objects or the landscape itself). It is also shown that Becker incorporates socio-economic, agricultural and pedagogical aspects into his programme.
In order to provide a basic understanding of the topic, the author and book will first be briefly introduced.


Seiten (von - bis)18-43
FachzeitschriftAha! Miszellen zur Gartengeschichte und Gartendenkmalpflege
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Jan. 2024

Externe IDs

Mendeley 42745b60-4992-3e26-b232-47d1f67a9739