The Hampton Court Albums of Catherine the Great by Mikhail Piotrovsky and Mikhail Dedinkin

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Two albums of drawings by Capability Brown’s draughtsman, John Spyers, were recently discovered in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg and are here reproduced in their entirety. They are considered to be one of the most complete visual records of an historic landscape ever captured before photography. Purchased by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, in the early 1780s, they lay forgotten for over 200 years. The 149 drawings mainly depict Hampton Court Palace and its surrounding parks in the years when Capability Brown was Chief Gardener there (1764-83), appointed by George III. It has been suggested that Catherine used the albums as her inspiration for the landscaping of her new English Garden at Peterhof, outside St Petersburg.