We celebrated in 2013 the 400e anniversary of the birth of André Le Nôtre, the gardener of Louis XIV.
The opportunity to return to a prolific career whose works continue to delight today's walkers.
Grandson and son of the king's gardeners, the young André learns his trade from his father, Pierre Le Nôtre, in the Tuileries garden. He succeeded him in 1643, after studying with the painter Simon Vouet, the sculptor Louis Lerambert and the architect François Mansart, masters who teach him drawing, perspective, architecture, but also... art to seduce the king and make a place for himself at court.
Ours, a prolific career
Became "landscape architect", André Le Nôtre composes the gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte for Nicolas Fouquet, in collaboration with the architect Louis Le Vau and the decorator Charles Le Brun. In 1661, he restores the gardens of Versailles for Louis XIV, gardens which will quickly become the reference in the matter in all the courts of Europe.
Le Nôtre also updates the gardens of the castle of Fontainebleau, composes those of the castles of Maisons and Chantilly. These are the latter, with the perspective distorted from the castle (the axis is given by the statue of the Constable), which would have been his favorite.
The style Le Nôtre
Le Nôtre is part of the classic French garden tradition. Inspired by the creations of Northern Italy, but on a much larger scale, they are linear gardens, where the flowerbeds surrounded by hedges of boxwood are surrounded by aisles at an angle. Statues, fountains and plantations punctuate this harmony, where perspective reigns supreme.
The water features are numerous and important: large basins placed symmetrically on each side of the paths, carved fountains, wide canals... In Versailles, the impressive Grand Canal (1670 meters long) hosted famous nautical festivals in the summer. In the winter, it turned into a giant ice rink...
Visual credit: © Château de Vaux le Vicomte, © Château de Versailles / C.Milet