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The Photographer in the Garden

This is the fourth and final program in the Great Homes and Gardens Lecture Series.

Book Cover The Photographer in the GardenWhen the eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope observed that “all gardening is landscape painting,” he was conflating the art of organizing nature on a canvas with the art of organizing nature itself, according to man’s design.

As a visual art, photography came late to this conversation, but like painting and gardening it encompasses certain organizational principles based on aesthetic and formal concerns. As a consequence, from the moment of its invention in 1839, photography found a most fertile subject in the garden.

From famous locations, such as Versailles and Viscaya, to the World War II Victory Gardens, from fantastical topiaries to suburban backyards, this lecture will consider how photographers from all eras, including Anna Atkins, Karl Blossfeldt, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham, Stephen Shore, Martin Parr, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Collier Schorr have depicted the cultivated landscape along with floral displays and botanical studies.

Event Timeline

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Mansion, Perfume & Seduction, and Greenhouse open for self-guided touring
6:30-7:30 p.m.: Lecture
7:30 p.m. Book Signing

About the Speaker

Sarah Anne McNear (shadow) in the GardenSarah Anne McNear is a photography historian and gardener with over thirty years of experience in museums and cultural non-profits. She has organized over forty exhibitions, and has held positions at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Allentown Art Museum, LaSalle Bank Photography Collection, and The Museum of Modern Art, where she was the Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Fellow in Photography. Most recently, McNear served as the deputy director of the Aperture Foundation where she conceived, wrote and launched a visual literacy curriculum for middle and high school students. She has served as the deputy director of the 92nd Street Y’s School of the Arts, as well as the director of its Art Center. Prior to these roles, she was director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago. She is the author of several books on photography and has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues. McNear currently serves on the board of the Aperture Foundation and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Maine.

About the Series

Escape Washington’s dreary winter weather by immersing yourself in the stories of luscious gardens and graceful estates.

Tuesday, February 12: Henri Samuel: Master of the French Interior with Emily Eeardmans

Thursday, February 28: Havana Living Today: Cuban Home Style Now with Hermes Mallea

Thursday, March 7: The Gardens of Bunny Mellon with Linda Jane Holden

Tuesday, March 12: The Photographer in the Garden with Sarah Anne McNear

  • John Pfahl Redbuds in Bloom
  • Joel Sternfeld Blind Man in His Garden
  • Robert Mappelthorpe Tulip