312 pages, 48 illustrations
The gardens of Versailles are perhaps the most famous in the world. The scale of the gardens is monumental, with a sense of openness to the horizon. They express the spirit of seventeenth-century science with their geometrical layout and with their interest in optics, evidenced by the reflecting mirrors of the water parterres and of the Grand Canal. The original park design, realized by Andre Le Notre, the king himself, and a few advisers, has never been altered. Its main axis runs from east to west to celebrate the Sun King, and Louis XIV was so involved in the creation and maintenance of his gardens that he wrote The Way to Present the Gardens of Versailles to make sure that they were properly enjoyed.
Michel Baridon traces the history of the gardens from their inception through the three centuries of eventful history that they have witnessed. He shows how Louis XIV's successor, Louis XV, made his own original contribution to the gardens at Trianon, and how Mique and Hubert Robert designed, also at Trianon, the English garden and the delightful village beloved by Marie Antoinette.An introduction stresses the cultural importance of the Versailles gardens, a chronology shows the stages of their growth and development, and later chapters discuss the contemporary challenges of conservation and historical interpretation. Beautifully illustrated with historical images and commissioned photographs, A History of the Gardens of Versailles provides visitors and enthusiasts with a guide to the legendary grounds.
This work treats its subject from an original angle, recalling that the gardens were conceived according to the will of Louis XIV and reflect the politics set in motion by Colbert, which profoundly altered the structure of French society.--L'Express "Known the world over, the gardens of Versailles are often visited hurriedly by crowds of tourists... In contrast, this book examines the political and cultural intrigues during the era of the gardens' creation. To achieve his masterpiece, Louis XIV mobilized the seventeenth century's artistic and scientific elite. This work enables us to discover this universe."--Jardins
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