That book, with the wonderfully wordy title of Sketches and hints on landscape gardening : collected from designs and observations now in the possession of the different noblemen and gentlemen, for whose use they were originally made : the whole tending to establish fixed principles in the art of laying out ground, published in 1794, can be found at the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
Flip over a flap and a new landscape paradigm just might appear.
Writes gardenhistorygirl — who first alerted us to their online presence:
Long before cable TV popularized instant makeovers of houses, gardens, wardrobes, bodies and souls, Humphrey Repton knew the power of the 'before' and 'after'. His famous Red Books were presentation sketches for his potential clients; lovingly detailed watercolors with flaps that lifted or swept to the side to show in turn the existing landscape and how he proposed to improve it. They are still treasured in museums, national and municipal properties, and private homes across England.
More before-and-after landscapes follow.
A quick word about these two images, for they are hilarious. The landscape alteration here does not seem to involve any physical changes but rather just the addition of livestock — farm animals as decorative elements, living sculptures even, transforming the English countryside into a mythical Romantic idyll.
Or you add some sheep.
One wonders if the direct descendant of this pastoral tradition is the current vogue of visualizing landscapes adaptively reused for the coming climate-changed, post-oil, post-water world. And here we're thinking of Farmadelphia, Chicken Wing, Animal Messaging Service, etc. — landscapes which are populated by a new breed of Henry David Thoreaus.
Flip over the digital flap and you find Romantic hero-ecologists practicing an imagined earlier sustainable way of life adopted for an aestheticized vision of the future.