Virtual Delville as Archival Research: Rendering Women's Garden History Visible


  • Lisa L. Moore Univ. of Texas at Austin


garden history, 18th-century studies, art history, feminist studies, Maya, visual media, archival studies


  The eighteenth century is known as "the great age of English garden design."  Critics in the period agreed that while the French were the best writers and the Italians the best painters, the English were the true masters of the third of the "sister arts," landscape gardening.  Masterpieces such as Stowe, Stourhead and Painshill are now National Trust sites, having been lovingly preserved through generations as family heirlooms.  As "matrimony" rather than "patrimony," however, gardens designed by women have not survived:  the Duchess of Portland's Bulstrode and Mary Delany's Delville are just two examples of gardens celebrated in their day that did not achieve posterity.  In this essay, I describe the project of re-creating a three-dimensional virtual version Mary Delany's Delville, considered the finest picturesque garden in Ireland in the mid-eighteenth-century, using the same Maya software used in the Lord of the Rings movies.  Drawing on conventional archival sources such as letters, drawings, paintings, and poems, the project poses challenges in terms of design, politics and epistemology.  How can digital tools such as Maya expand the frontiers of feminist research?

Virtual Garden

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Author Biography

Lisa L. Moore, Univ. of Texas at Austin

Associate Professor, English and Women's and Gender Studies, The University of Texas at Austin