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Repton flip book


Humphry Repton’s eighteenth century pop up book comes to life!

The DX Lab has been experimenting with open-source slider technology for our curator Sarah Morley who wanted to find a new way to experience the works from this collection item. The original item is a flip-book of gardens.  The technology solution that we found to work really well is JuxtaposeJS. This tool:

‘Helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs. It’s ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time’

Humphry Repton’s Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening… , 1795 Humphry Repton was a leading 18th-century landscape designer who refined the concept of the landscape garden and is regarded as the greatest English landscape designer to follow ‘Capability’ Brown. Repton produced finely illustrated books featuring watercolours and aquatints on hinged flaps to show ‘before’ and ‘after’ views. These manuscript volumes, bound in red morocco became known as ‘Red Books’, and were produced to sell his landscape ideas to prospective clients. Repton produced over 400 Red Books for various clients. Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, Repton’s first published book, uses a selection of examples from his Red Books to summarise his approach to landscape gardening. In the introduction Repton writes:

‘To improve the scenery of a country, and to display its native beauties with advantage, is an art which originated in England, and has therefore been called English Gardening; yet as this expression is not sufficiently appropriate, especially since Gardening, in its more confined sense of Horticulture, has been likewise brought to the greatest perfection in this country, I have adopted the term Landscape Gardening, as most proper, because the art can only be advanced and perfected by the united powers of the landscape painter and the practical gardener’.

Please note the numbers in the original book are not sequential.

I. A scene in the garden at Brandsbury, where a sunk fence is used instead of the pale, which had been so injudiciously placed as to exclude a very rich and distant prospect.

IIa. Rivenhall Place. The first improvement consists in the removal of some tall trees and bushes, together with the barn and stables, which incumber the house; and the subsequent change is effected, by continuing the water along the valley, and altering colour of the house.

IIb. Rivenhall Place. The first improvement consists in the removal of some tall trees and bushes, together with the barn and stables, which incumber the house; and the subsequent change is effected, by continuing the water along the valley, and altering colour of the house.

III. Wembly. The old red house altered, by changing its colour, adding battlements. The offices at a distance, are brought nearer, to join the house; and the shrubbery removed, to show more extent of park and prospect.

IV. The west front of Welbeck altered, by raising the earth above the lower story and thus placing the house upon an eminence. – The roof also is partly hid by turrets; and further improved, by changing its colour.

V. View of the water at Welbeck; introduced, to describe the different effects of a Grecian of a Gothic building at a distance; the one abounding in perpendicular, the other in horizontal lines

VII. Two ideal houses, to show the effect of contrasting the prevalent lines of trees and Buildings.

VIII. The effect of removing trees, in the oblique view of an avenue at Langley Park.

IX. This view, taken from Hanslope Park, shows, that in looking along an avenue, it is not sufficient to cut down many of the trees to destroy its effect, unless the stems of those left be hidden by a thicket of thorns, holly, and brush-wood

XI. A view of the water, and some of the large oaks, at Welbeck. The lake is here altered to a river; and the ground being raised near the house, the situation of the building is in appearance considerably elevated.

XII. View from the house at Tatton, showing the manner of connecting the two waters; and also the effect of the net-fence as a false scale, which lessens the size of the nearest water.

XIII. A scene near the entrance of the grounds at Castle Hill, showing the effect of cattle, to mark the extent of a lawn which slopes from the eye:- without such objects, the ground is lost, and foreshortened.

XIV. View from the tower at Wembly: this is rather a prospect than a landscape; and therefore the pencil gives an inadequate idea of its real beauty. But this scene is attempted, to show how breadth of light and shade is produced, and that flutter corrected which had been the consequence of too many trees dotted on the lawn. In the unimproved state of this view, there is an evident confusion; and the chief circumstance attracting notice, is the smoke of a distant lime-kiln. – But, by introducing objects within the park, the view becomes more appropriate and concentred; and the distance is rendered more subordinate in the general composition.

XVI. The entrance into Tatton park from the end of the town of Knutsford.- This idea not being carried into execution, the plate was not originally intended to have been here introduced, especially as the architectural design for the entrance gate is not yet finished; but after the MS. Of Tatton had been so unfairly misrepresented, it became necessary to insert the Chapter VII. Instead of other matter, which had been actually prepared for this Volume.


Sheila Meekums

These are really amazing images. Many of the County Gardens Trusts are currently researching Repton to commemorate his contribution to English landscaped gardens. The whereabouts of the Red Book for Stoke Park Bucks is a mystery. Does anyone know if it still exists? Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust Research and Recording Group.

Rosalind Durant

A wonderful use of the digital programme. So helpful for accessing the red books. Thank you.

Howard Benson

Hello. Have you any plans to digitise Repton’s red book for Oulton in Yorkshire. It would be a great help if you could

Wallace Wormley, PhD

It is wonderful to use these sliders to look at some of Humphry Repton’s images from various Red Books. It is difficult to get access to and see the Red Books. This slider technology actually enables and enhances the experience of the visual genius of Repton’s skill at ‘then and now pictures’. It is especially impressive in those instances where he actually was given the mandate to implement his designs and the executed works are still extant today. Well done and I would encourage the use of more of Repton’s images in your work at the DX Lab at the State Library of New South Wales. Thank you.

Wallace Wormley, PhD
The Buckinghamshire Gardens Trust

Jenifer White

Fantastic! There’s lots of interest in the UK in marking the bicentenary of Repton in 2018. What a super new resource. Jenifer White, Historic England ((GOvernment’s advisory body for the historic environment)


Thanks Richard. This tool is best suited for ‘then and now’ images that line up exactly. You can load any content into it however and try it yourself. https://juxtapose.knightlab.com/#create-new


A very interesting effect — I wonder if it would be possible to apply this to pictures of New South Wales, especially Sydney — even if the photographers or painters were working from different angles. I know in 2015 there was an exhibition of old photographs, which invited people to take their own photographs from the same location.

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