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2010 | 35 | 5-42

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THE GARDEN OF ARCADIAN ARMIDA - HELENA RADZIWILLOWA (Ogrod Armidy arkadyjskiej - Heleny Radziwillowej)

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In 1778 at Nieborów, five kilometres from her palace, Helena Radziwillowa (1753-1821) had a landscape park in the English taste made for her which she called Arcadia. The park was based on the Attic myth popularized by Virgil, revived in the Renaissance period by Tasso and Ariosto, and widespread in the English literature and parks of the late 18th century. Radziwillowa assumed the name of Armida, the heroine of the epic Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) by Torquato Tasso. Armida's garden was to be a refuge from the world's worries. Park's buildings: Temple of Love, Archpriest Sanctum, Gothic House, Sybil's Grotto, Burgrave's House, then Circus and Amphitheatre, were surrounded by thick vegetation. There was a Sepulcher on the Poplar Island with an inscription: Et In Arcadia ego, and nearby was a Grave of Illusions, erected to the memory of three Radziwillowa's daughters who died young. The forms of the nature and follies were influenced by the ideas of love, eroticism, friendship, the cult of reason, of happiness and self-improvement, but also thoughts of elapsing time and death. All the threads were united by the ancient tradition and a Freemasonic idea, reconciling apparent contradictions. It was Radziwillowa herself who decided on the shape of her Arcadia and the way to visit it, described in a special guide published in 1800. Arcadia of the Polish Armida was a sovereign area of equivocal meanings, it adopted the symbolism of Armida's enchanted garden, garden collection, garden of love, island of the death, it concealed Masonic ideas, and was the meeting place of high society.






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