The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Andre le Notre Garden Designer

Previous - Next

212. Andre le Notre was probably the most celebrated French gardener that ever existed. If Le Notre, observes Hirschfeld, had been born under any other monarch than Louis XIV., his taste would, in all probability, never have spread, or his name been known to posterity. But that age, in which a feeling for the fine arts had begun to awake in men's minds, together with the personal character of this monarch, was favourable to pomp and brilliancy. The nation and the court wished to be dazzled and enchanted by novelty and singularity; and though there certainly was nothing in Le Notre's manner that had not before been displayed in France and Italy, and, with the exception of parterres, even by the Romans; yet the grand scale and sumptuous expense of his plans surpassed every thing before seen in France, and produced precisely the desired end. His long clipped alleys, triumphal arches, richly decorated and highly wrought parterres; his fountains and cascades, with their grotesque and strange ornaments; his groves, full of architecture and gilt trellises; his profusion of statues and therms: all these wonders springing up in a desert-looking upon country, dazzled and enchanted every class of observers. Le Notre was educated an architect; and had attained his fortieth year before he finished his first work in the rural department of his profession, the garden of Vaux le Vicomte afterwards Vaux Praslin. The king, enchanted with the decorations of this garden, made Le Notre his controller-general of buildings and director of gardens, loaded him with presents, gave him a patent of nobility, and made him knight of the order of St. Michael. His principal works are Versailles, which cost nearly 200 millions of francs; Trianon, Meudon, Saint Cloud, Sceaux, Chantilly, and the celebrated terrace of St. Germain. The gardens of the Tuileries, the Champs Elysees, and many others, were either formed by him, or improved from his designs. In 1678 he went to Italy, where he furnished the plans of several gardens, particularly those of the villas Panfili and Ludovisi. England, Sweden, and all Europe, adopted his manner. He died in 1700. (Hirschfeld, tom. v. p. 298.)