|André Le Nôtre, gardener, landscape architect, artist|
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of France’s — some say the world’s — greatest garden and landscape designer, André Le Nôtre, the Chateau de Versailles is celebrating with tours and functions to honor his legacy.
André Le Nôtre succeeded his father, Pierre, as head gardener of the Jardin des Tuilleries in Paris. He also studied fine art which no doubt explains his creation of the formal French garden and his masterwork at Versailles for Louis XIV.
He also projected the central axis of the Tuilleries which became the grand axis of Paris stretching from the Arc de Triomphe to La Defense.
For Versailles, he created an intricate play on shade and light with groves and parterres. According to the official release from the chateau: “The parterres and principal walks were flanked by statues and clipped yew hedges in the most surprising shapes which make Versailles a key center of the topiarist’s art.”
Part of the celebration includes a magnificent program featuring the king’s flowers. Two of his favorites were dark blue hyacinths and narcissus Constantinople.
|The exquisite hyacinth — color and perfume.|
|The delicately beautiful narcissus Constantinople.|
Ennobled in 1681, historians claim that another of Le Nôtre’s greatest achievements was remaining not only in the favor of the Sun King throughout his life, but also his friend — apparently a rare achievement in the highly competitive and often cruel machinations of the court.
One summer we took a bicycle tour of the the gardens with a guide. She explained the significance ofevery detail from the king’s beloved flowers to the importance of the inclusion of the Greek god statues.
If you are coming to Paris, you really should think about a visit to Versailles even if you have been there many times. You will be enchanted once again. Click here for more details.
The “grand finale” of the the celebration is “Le Nôtre in Perspective” which explores the man and his genius (from Oct. 22 through Feb. 23, 2014).