Sculpture has always played a very important part in garden design, as well as in almost all types of monumental and public planting. Less formal than architecture, it may be used to great advantage as an accent with informal planting schemes, where it adds the element of contrast.
Sculpture was an important feature in the early gardens of Egypt. In the garden of the King of Thebes, for instance, it was used as a controlling element in the design.
In the Soman gardens of Pompeii (Fig. 1) and Herculaneum the sculpture was used in an axial way, appearing on the axes of corridors, walks, and streets, mainly as an accent, although frequently employed to enrich other garden features. The forms themselves were of secondary importance; their position and function was the prime interest.
The early Italian gardens employ sculpture in two ways. In the formal treatment hermae served as an architectural feature at the intersection of walks and in connection with terraces, walls, and ornamental gateways. Informal sculpture, such as single figures or groups, was used with planting in the gardens where architecture was not the controlling feature or where the architectural element was at some distance. These same phases continue in the later gardens of France and England, as at Versailles, Fontainebleau, St. Cloud, and Wilton House.
In America sculpture has appeared at a disadvantage. It is used in a civic way rather than in gardens, and here, as a rule, it does not enter into the design of the park or square in which it is located, although it most certainly should. This sculpture is generally introduced from patriotic rather than from esthetic motives, as may easily be understood after the examination of a few examples.
In Washington, D. C, an attempt is being made to correct this incongruity between the sculpture and its surroundings by the rearrangement of planting and walks.
Lincoln Park, Washington, has been helped greatly in this way. The landscape-architect who directed the work did not introduce any new elements, but rearranged the jumble which he found already there, with most satisfactory results.