Let’s remember Le Nôtre!

Now this is almost winter but gardens are always in my mind; lucky to live in such a country that worship them. And my favorite gardener of all times, André Le Nôtre.

On a cloudy rainy cool Tuesday afternoon awaiting the start of my Christmas/New Years vacation in my lovely Morbihan of Brittany, I can only think of my beloved Versailles,after  almost 10 years of residency, it is always in my mind. So, therefore, let me tell you a bit more about Versailles and one of its greatest exponents André Le Nôtre.

Most now know who is Le Nôtre, so I will cut short the introduction. He was born in Paris March 12, 1613 (birthplace site the Tuileries, the gardens!!!) ; and the site of his first work thanks to Catherine de Médicis.  There is so much missing on his life because most of the papers of his genie were lost over the periods!!!. His family: André Le Nôtre is a son probably also a  grandchild of the gardeners of the Tuileries. His father, Jean, had the title since 1625 of plants and garden designer, and share the responsibility with Claude 1er Mollet of the Tuileries gardens. His grandfather Pierre Le Nôtre, was in charge since 1572 of the upkeep of the terraces garden of the Tuileries.  André Le Nôtre marries in 1640, Françoise Langlois, daughter of an artillery commissary of France, they have 3 kids, all died of early age. Moreover, the tradition continues because two of his sisters became gardeners too. Françoise marries Simon Bouchard, manager of the orangeries of the  Tuileries, post that allows the bequest of their children in the same field. Elisabeth marries the gardener Pierre Desgots,that worked most notably at  Chantilly, and their grandson Claude Desgots will be the next closest collaborator of André Le Nôtre. He learned the trade of designing by working for 6 years with the shop of  Simon Vouet in the Louvre. It is here that he meets and befriends the painter Le Brun (later work with him at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles, etc ). He, also, worked in the gardens of Luxembourg Paris, Palais-Royale Paris, Chantilly, Saint Germain en Laye, and Fontainebleau. His hands are at work too at  Trianon, Clagny, Maintenon, Saint-Cyr , Meudon, and maybe Marly. In the châteaux de Saint-Maur, Saint-Martin de Pontoise, Chaville, Louvois, Pontchartain ,and Conflans, as well as in the provinces such as  Gaillon, Guermantes, Castries, Les Rochers, and so on and on…Also, internationally, such as Greenwich for Charles II of England in 1662. He conceived a project for the Château de Racconigi in Italy in 1670 and remade the gardens of Venaria Reale in Italy in 1674-1698.  .He started his work at Versailles by order of the King in 1662 next to Le Vau and Le Brun. The making of Versailles begins, and so the ever bright start of Le Nôtre rises to touch the heavens and stay there forever in the minds of all of us that admire this place so much. During the year 1675: he received, on this occasion, the order of Saint-Michel followed, in 1681, of the Order of Saint-Lazare. The photo below is in Versailles!!!

versailles

He lived on a house not far from the Pavillon de Marsan (building where today is the musee des arts décoratifs in Paris rue de Rivoli), and it is in this nearby house where he died on September 15 1700. His funeral was celebrated in the Church St Germain de l’Auxerrois near the Hôtel de Ville of Paris and he is buried at the nearby Church Saint-Roch at 254 rue Saint Honoré.  The chapel that hosts its tomb is adorned with a painting entitled The Martyrdom of St. Andrew. His widow, Françoise Langlois, soon ordered a funeral monument to honour her husband’s memory. Realized before 1707, he took a seat in front of the high altar, under a large arcade. Detaching itself on a background of marble veined with colour, it consisted of an allegory in white marble holding the epitaph of the Gardener, in gold letters on a black marble, all surmounted by the coat of arms of the deceased, with the famous three snails and the necklace of the Order of Saint-Michel; Below, at the Spectator’s height, was placed on a console the bust of the deceased, the head slightly turned to the right. Desecrated during the revolution, there remains of this burial that the bust

Upon his death, the local newspaper Mercure Galant said of him in 1700, (Trans) ” The king came to lose a man unique, and in love with is service to him, and a strong admirer of his own art, that had given him honor. It is Mr le Notre, general controller of buildings for his majesty, its gardens, and manufacturers of France….Never a man has given more of all that he has been able to give and contribute to the beauty of gardening…” The government of France has in the ministry of culture a space for him all alone in French, that is the honor of a good son, http://www.lenotre.culture.gouv.fr/index.html

Versailles celebrated big time his 400 annivesary in 2013 and I wrote a similar post of which this one mostly borrowed . Some of the activities and renovations due to his celebration by the city were:

versailles

The beautification of the avenue de l’Europe, with a cyclable path along the sidewalks without interruption from the there to the ave Saint Cloud jonction to the avenue de Paris.  Th jardin des Senteurs at the cour des senteurs right by the Potager du Roi(itself now under renovation). The renovation of the garden in the Maison des Musiciens Italiens  (see previous post on it) as well as jointly with the SNCF to have bicycle paths from the train stations to visit the city on a vélo! it will criss cross the city and give you an opportunity to see more than the castle museum.

The great allée Le Notre, more often overlook by visitors, it is the extension of the castle  envision by Le Nôtre, along the axe allée des Mortemets that goes to the eau des Suisses at the today caserne Pion almost at the doors of the city of Saint-Cyr-l’école right by the ferme de Gally (see previous post), back of the Grand canal! A complete renovation in the gardens all dear to me such as Potager du Roi, parc Balbi, and domaine de Madame Elizabeth (see previous posts). The Allée Royale in the castle will be an excellent opportunity to see his work up close starting from the bassin d’Apollon descending to the Grand Canal, and beyond into the Etoile Royale going to the communities dear to me such as the Saint-Cyr-l’école,Fontenay-le-Fleury, Rennemoulin, and Villepreux (road 307).

An “André Le Nôtre International Prize” was founded in 2013 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the birth of André Le Nôtre. It was presented in the context of the meetings André Le Nôtre of Versailles. It is intended to reward landscape architects from all over the world, for the whole of a work (from conception to realization, through the quality of the mastery of work, knowledge and know-how).

Hope you can see some of his work in France, they are all gorgeous. One reason Versailles is so nice!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

One Comment to “Let’s remember Le Nôtre!”

  1. He was definitely a maverick of the garden and an inspiration to many. Thank you for sharing his work with us. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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