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Pier Francesco Orsini, Duke of Bomarzo

(c. 1513—1584)

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Italian connoisseur. Like many others of his illustrious family, he was a patron of the arts. He commissioned the celebrated Parco dei Mostri at Bomarzo, near Viterbo (begun 1552), which he called sacro bosco (sacred wood or grove), implying that it was far more than a place of relaxation and pleasure. The garden contained a Classical Temple, a Leaning House, a Mouth of Hell, many garden-sculptures (some extraordinary, even by Mannerist standards), an exedra, a nymphaeum, a grotto, fountains, and inscriptions from Ariosto, Dante, and Petrarch. It was, like many Renaissance gardens, an intellectual construct encompassing all the arts, stimulating the mind and the senses, a place of freedom, balm for the soul and body, a source of moral instruction, and much else.

Journal of Garden History, i/4 (Jan.–Mar. 1984), whole issue;Lazzaro (1990)

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