Vanessa Sellers spoke at the Seminar in Renaissance and Early Modern Material Culture on Wednesday, October 3, at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “Recreating the Seventeenth-Century Garden in Holland: Blending Nature and Design.”

Current plans to reconstruct the once famous garden of Castle Batestein at Vianen (Utrecht, the Netherlands), has opened up new questions on the principles underlying seventeenth-century garden design, as well as current methods for recreating historic gardens and landscapes. Who exactly was the owner and designer of the garden, what was its original purpose, and what did it look like? Proud seat of the Lords of Brederode—renowned warriors related to the House of Orange-Nassau by intermarriage—Castle Batestein historically functioned as a pivotal center for princely gatherings and celebrations. The garden itself had a unique inner layout, based on Vitruvian-Pythagorean mathematical forms, the hidden symbolism of which needs to be unraveled for us to truly grasp the garden’s deeper, political message. This lecture explores the cultural-political significance of this ornate, ultra-modern garden, while investigating the identity of its elusive designer, Isaac Leschevin. Leschevin was a multitalented artist responsible for introducing new style forms connecting both architecture and the decorative arts. The recent discovery of a suite of his prints in the Metropolitan Museum and in Germany has made it possible to learn more about his life and career. This lecture highlights the role of the print as an essential tool for artistic dissemination, stimulating ongoing directions for the arts and sciences within a period that would eventually come to be defined as the Dutch Golden Age.

Vanessa Bezemer Sellers, landscape historian, lectures extensively in the United States and abroad and conducts research on the history of gardens and related topics. She studied at Leiden University, the Netherlands, completed a fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks’ Garden and Landscape Studies Program, and received her PhD from Princeton University, Department of Art and Archaeology. Sellers has taught at Bard Graduate Center and worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Currently heading the Andrew W. Mellon-sponsored Humanities Institute at The New York Botanical Garden, she also was Executive editor of Flora Illustrata, Great Works from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden (New York; New Haven, 2014). In addition to many articles, her foremost publications include Courtly Gardens in Holland 1600–1650 (Amsterdam, 2001); David Coffin, Magnificent Buildings, Splendid Gardens (Princeton, 2008) (editor); and Gijsbert van Laar (1767–1820) Storehouse of Garden Ornaments (New York: Foundation for Landscape Studies, 2011; a translation of this treatise from Dutch into English).