L'Enfant was born in France, reached America in 1777, and joined the Revolutionary army as a volunteer. France was supporting America and opposing England in the War of Independence, and L'Enfant attained the rank (1783) of major. The Residence Act of 1790 gave George Washington the power to select a site and a plan for the nations's capital. With help from Jefferson, in 1791, Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant to develop the plan. The design was based on the baroque garden designs of Andre Le Notre as used at Versailles, where L'Enfant's father had been a court painter, and on Domenico Fontana's scheme for the re-design of Rome under Pope Sixtus V. Washington dismissed L'Enfant a year later becausehe demanded complete control of the project. L'Enfant remained in America and died in poverty.
Gardens designed by L'Enfant, Pierre Charles