Courtyard garden: Sampler (Conundrum), 2001

The Courtyard garden presents a dazzling array of plantings, stonework, columns, sculptures, reliefs, and other decorative arts, including a second-century mosaic. Its many parts are actually quite disparate: ranging in time from ancient Rome to the Renaissance, they once might have been called a pastiche—but in our postmodern period might rather be called an installation. For audiences of today, then, perhaps Mrs. Gardner’s beautiful fusion offers an answer to the conundrum of Kipling’s embroidered in this sampler: It’s pretty, but is it Art?

Photograph by Yoav Horesh