Ditch state secretary, diplomat and poer Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687) saw his garden Hofwijck as the embodiment of a comprehensive philosophy. It departed from Vitruvius as a classic, geometric foundation that framed the irregularities he observed in human life as well as in free natural growth. In his poem on the garden he illustrated these ideas by pointing to the irregularity of design within the symmetrically cut Japanese robe. English statesman and essayist William Temple (1628-99), of the generation of Huygens's son, Christiaan, was a regular visitor of Hofwijck and elevated the appreciation of irregularity in the garden to a personal judgement, a taste for which he introduced the term 'sharawadgi', again of Japanese origin. This article introduces their discourse in relation to the Dutch fashion for the Japanese robe, and demonstrates how observations of nature and incoming arts from the Far East played a role in the 17th century departure from the fixed frames of Renaissance classicism towards a more enlighted understanding, including the birth of a picturesque taste in landscape art.
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