Our latest book, Visions of Arcadia, was published by Rizzoli in April of 2023. Subtitled “Pavilions and Follies of the Ancien Régime,” it has been in preparation for several years and, as with all our books, we are also its designers. Introduced by Olivier de Rohan Chabot, Visions of Arcadia is a large-format hardcover of 280 pages, sumptuously illustrated with nearly 70 original watercolors and copious period artwork, and with full end notes. The text draws a clear-limned portrait of the society of Ancien Régime France with clarity and wit, and as always with a staunch refusal to accept accepted narratives.
For all their beauty, architectural renderings are above all precision documents. Our watercolors are drawn as architectural elevations—drawings that, without perspectival distortion, document an object’s true dimensions at scale. Traditionally, architects have created highly finished presentation drawings for a variety of reasons, the foremost being to seduce potential clients.
We developed our technique while attempting exactly that for several prominent American architectural firms and designers early in our careers. Since then, we have concentrated on architectural history, particularly that of European garden architecture and ornament—an extraordinarily rich and varied field that includes some of the greatest buildings and objects ever designed.
In creating our watercolors, our objective is to depict the building itself as truly as possible, marshaling our research and technique to present the building exactly as it is or was—or would have been, if it had been built. In this sense, our intention is to allow the thing itself to seduce, to render it in its full reality.
Left: A date palm in a Versailles planter.
Right: the dust-jacket for Visions of Arcadia.