André Le Nôtre

André Le Nôtre

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André Le Nôtre was a French landscape architect
Landscape architect
A landscape architect is a person involved in the planning, design and sometimes direction of a landscape, garden, or distinct space. The professional practice is known as landscape architecture....

 and the principal gardener of King Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

. Most notably, he was responsible for the design and construction of the park of the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

, and his work represents the height of the French formal garden style, or jardin à la française
Garden à la française
The French formal garden, also called jardin à la française, is a style of garden based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order over nature. It reached its apogee in the 17th century with the creation of the Gardens of Versailles, designed for Louis XIV by the landscape architect André Le...

.

Prior to working on Versailles, Le Nôtre collaborated with Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau was a French Classical architect who worked for Louis XIV of France. He was born and died in Paris.He was responsible, with André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun, for the redesign of the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. His later works included the Palace of Versailles and his collaboration...

 and Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun , a French painter and art theorist, became the all-powerful, peerless master of 17th-century French art.-Biography:-Early life and training:...

 on the park at Vaux-le-Vicomte
Vaux-le-Vicomte
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne département of France...

. His other works include the design of gardens and parks at Chantilly
Château de Chantilly
The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located in the town of Chantilly, France. It comprises two attached buildings; the Grand Château, destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s, and the Petit Château which was built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency...

, Fontainebleau, Saint-Cloud
Château de Saint-Cloud
The Château de Saint-Cloud was a Palace in France, built on a magnificent site overlooking the Seine at Saint-Cloud in Hauts-de-Seine, about 10 kilometres west of Paris. Today it is a large park on the outskirts of the capital and is owned by the state, but the area as a whole has had a large...

, and Saint-Germain
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a royal palace in the commune of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the département of Yvelines, about 19 km west of Paris, France. Today, it houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale ....

. His contribution to planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 was also significant: at the Tuileries he extended the westward vista, which later became the avenue of the Champs-Élysées
Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

 and comprise the Axe historique
Axe historique
The Axe historique is a line of monuments, buildings and thoroughfares that extends from the centre of Paris, France, to the west. It is also known as the "Voie Triomphale" ....

.

Early life


André Le Nôtre was born in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, into a family of gardeners. Pierre Le Nôtre, who was in charge of the gardens of the Palais des Tuileries
Tuileries Palace
The Tuileries Palace was a royal palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune...

 in 1572, may have been his grandfather. André's father Jean Le Nôtre was also responsible for sections of the Tuileries gardens, initially under Claude Mollet
Claude Mollet
Claude Mollet , premier jardinier du Roy— first gardener to three French kings, Henri IV, Louis XIII and the young Louis XIV—was a member of the Mollet dynasty of French garden designers in the seventeenth century...

, and later as head gardener, during the reign of Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

. André was born on 12 March 1613, and was baptised at the Église Saint-Roch
Église Saint-Roch
The Church of Saint Roch is a late Baroque church in Paris. Located at 284 rue Saint-Honoré, in the 1st arrondissement, it was built between 1653 and 1722.- History :...

. His godfather at the ceremony was an administrator of the royal gardens, and his godmother was the wife of Claude Mollet.

The family lived in a house within the Tuilieries, and André thus grew up surrounded by gardening, and quickly acquired both practical and theoretical knowledge. The location also allowed him to study in the nearby Palais du Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

, part of which was then used as an academy of the arts. He learned mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 and architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, and entered the atelier of Simon Vouet
Simon Vouet
Simon Vouet was a French painter and draftsman, who today is perhaps best remembered for helping to introduce the Italian Baroque style of painting to France.-Life:...

, painter to Louis XIII, where he met and befriended the painter Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun
Charles Le Brun , a French painter and art theorist, became the all-powerful, peerless master of 17th-century French art.-Biography:-Early life and training:...

. He learned classical art and perspective, and studied for several years under the architect François Mansart
François Mansart
François Mansart was a French architect credited with introducing classicism into Baroque architecture of France...

, a friend of Le Brun.


Career


In 1635 Le Nôtre was named the principal gardener of the king's brother Gaston, duc d'Orléans
Gaston, Duke of Orléans
Gaston of France, , also known as Gaston d'Orléans, was the third son of King Henry IV of France and his wife Marie de Medici. As a son of the king, he was born a Fils de France. He later acquired the title Duke of Orléans, by which he was generally known during his adulthood...

. On 26 June 1637, Le Nôtre was appointed head gardener at the Tuileries, taking over his father's position. He had primary responsibiity for the areas of the garden closest to the palace, including the orangery
Orangery
An orangery was a building in the grounds of fashionable residences from the 17th to the 19th centuries and given a classicising architectural form. The orangery was similar to a greenhouse or conservatory...

 built by Simon Bouchard. In 1643 he was appointed "draughtsman of plants and terraces" for Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria
Anne of Austria was Queen consort of France and Navarre, regent for her son, Louis XIV of France, and a Spanish Infanta by birth...

, the queen mother, and from 1645 to 1646 he worked on the modernisation of the gardens of the Château de Fontainebleau.

He was later put in charge of all the royal gardens of France, and in 1657 he was further appointed Controller-General of the Royal Buildings. There are few direct references to Le Nôtre in the royal accounts, and Le Nôtre himself seldom wrote down his ideas or approach to gardening. He expressed himself purely through his gardens. He became a trusted advisor to Louis XIV, and in 1675 he was ennobled by the King. He and Le Brun even accompanied the court at the siege of Cambrai
Cambrai
Cambrai is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese whose jurisdiction was immense during the Middle Ages. The territory of the Bishopric of Cambrai, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, included...

 in 1677.

In 1640 he married Françoise Langlois. They had three children, although none survived to adulthood.

Vaux-le-Vicomte


André Le Nôtre's first major garden design was undertaken for Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet
Nicolas Fouquet, marquis de Belle-Île, vicomte de Melun et Vaux was the Superintendent of Finances in France from 1653 until 1661 under King Louis XIV...

, Louis XIV's Superintendent of Finances. Fouquet began work on the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Vaux-le-Vicomte
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne département of France...

 in 1657, employing the architect Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau was a French Classical architect who worked for Louis XIV of France. He was born and died in Paris.He was responsible, with André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun, for the redesign of the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. His later works included the Palace of Versailles and his collaboration...

, the painter Charles Le Brun, and Le Nôtre. The three designers worked in partnership, with Le Nôtre laying out a grand, symmetrical arrangement of parterre
Parterre
A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all...

s, pools, and gravel walks. Le Vau and Le Nôtre exploited the changing levels across the site, so that the canal is invisible from the house, and employed forced perspective
Forced perspective
Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It is used primarily in photography, filmmaking and architecture...

 to make the grotto appear closer than it really is. The gardens were complete by 1661, when Fouquet held a grand entertainment for the king. But only three weeks later, on 10 September 1661, Fouquet was arrested for embezzling state funds, and his artists and craftsmen were taken into the king's service.

Versailles




From 1661, Le Nôtre was working for Louis XIV to build and enhance the garden and parks
Gardens of Versailles
The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style perfected here by...

 of the Château de Versailles
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

. Louis extended the existing hunting lodge, eventually making it his primary residence and seat of power. Le Nôtre also laid out the radiating city plan of Versailles
Versailles
Versailles , a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial centre...

, which included the largest avenue yet seen in Europe, the Avenue de Paris.

France


In 1661 Le Nôtre was also working on the gardens at Fontainebleau. In 1663 he was engaged at Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a royal palace in the commune of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the département of Yvelines, about 19 km west of Paris, France. Today, it houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale ....

, and Château de Saint-Cloud
Château de Saint-Cloud
The Château de Saint-Cloud was a Palace in France, built on a magnificent site overlooking the Seine at Saint-Cloud in Hauts-de-Seine, about 10 kilometres west of Paris. Today it is a large park on the outskirts of the capital and is owned by the state, but the area as a whole has had a large...

, residence of Philippe d'Orléans
Philippe I, Duke of Orléans
Philippe of France was the youngest son of Louis XIII of France and his queen consort Anne of Austria. His older brother was the famous Louis XIV, le roi soleil. Styled Duke of Anjou from birth, Philippe became Duke of Orléans upon the death of his uncle Gaston, Duke of Orléans...

, where he would oversee works for may years. Also from 1663, Le Nôtre was engaged at Château de Chantilly
Château de Chantilly
The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located in the town of Chantilly, France. It comprises two attached buildings; the Grand Château, destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s, and the Petit Château which was built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency...

, property of the Prince de Condé
Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé
Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé was a French general and the most famous representative of the Condé branch of the House of Bourbon. Prior to his father's death in 1646, he was styled the Duc d'Enghien...

, where he worked with his nephew Pierre Desgots until the 1680s. From 1664 he was rebuilding the gardens of the Tuileries, at the behest of Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing...

, Louis's chief minister, who still hoped the king would remain in Paris. In 1667 Le Nôtre extended the main axis of the gardens westward, creating the avenue which would become the Champs-Elysées
Champs-Élysées
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a prestigious avenue in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strip of real estate in the world. The name is...

. Colbert commissioned Le Nôtre in 1670, to alter the gardens of his own château de Sceaux
Château de Sceaux
The Château de Sceaux is a grand country house in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, not far from Paris, France. Located in a park laid out by André Le Nôtre, it houses the Musée de l’Île-de-France, a museum of local history. The former château was built for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's minister of...

, which was ongoing until 1683.

Abroad


In 1662 he provided designs for Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park is a former hunting park in Greenwich and one of the largest single green spaces in south east London. One of the Royal Parks of London, and the first to be enclosed , it covers , and is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site. It commands fine views over the River Thames, Isle of...

 in London, for Charles II of England
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

. In 1670 Le Nôtre conceived a project for the Castle of Racconigi
Castle of Racconigi
The Royal Castle of Racconigi is a palace and landscape park in Racconigi, province of Cuneo, Italy. It was the official residence of the Carignano line of the House of Savoy, and is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy included by UNESCO in the World Heritage Sites list.-History:The...

 in Italy, and between 1674 and 1698 he remodelled the gardens of Venaria Reale
Venaria Reale
Venaria Reale is a comune in the Province of Turin in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 8 km northwest of Turin....

, near Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

. In 1679, he visited Italy. His later advice was provided for Charlottenburg Palace and château de Cassel in Germany, and with plans for Windsor Castle.

Final works


Between 1679 and 1691, he was involved in the planning of the gardens of Château de Meudon
Château de Meudon
The former Château de Meudon, on a hill in Meudon, about 4 kilometres south-west of Paris, occupied the terraced steeply sloping site. It was acquired by Louis XIV, who greatly expanded its as a residence for Louis, le Grand Dauphin...

 for Louvois
François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois
François Michel Le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois was the French Secretary of State for War for a significant part of the reign of Louis XIV. Louvois and his father, Michel le Tellier, would increase the French Army to 400,000 soldiers, an army that would fight four wars between 1667 and 1713...

, another of Louis's ministers. His last royal work was his involvement in the planning of the Château de Marly
Château de Marly
The Château de Marly was a relatively small French royal residence located in what has become Marly-le-Roi, the commune that existed at the edge of the royal park. The town that originally grew up to service the château is now a dormitory community for Paris....

 in 1692.

In 1693, Le Nôtre retired, offering his belles œuvres to the King. However he still provided advice, writing to Germany with instructions for the Charlottenburg Palace
Charlottenburg Palace
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin, Germany, and the only royal residency in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. It is located in the Charlottenburg district of the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf burough.The palace was built at the end of the 17th century...

 and château de Cassel, and to William III of England
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 with plans for Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

, during the 1690s.

André Le Nôtre died in Paris in September 1700, at the age of 87. His tomb is in the Église Saint-Roch
Église Saint-Roch
The Church of Saint Roch is a late Baroque church in Paris. Located at 284 rue Saint-Honoré, in the 1st arrondissement, it was built between 1653 and 1722.- History :...

 in Paris.

List of principal gardens by Le Nôtre


  • Gardens of Versailles
    Gardens of Versailles
    The Gardens of Versailles occupy part of what was once the Domaine royal de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles. Situated to the west of the palace, the gardens cover some 800 hectares of land, much of which is landscaped in the classic French Garden style perfected here by...

    , and the city plan of Versailles
    Versailles
    Versailles , a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial centre...

  • Gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte
    Vaux-le-Vicomte
    The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château located in Maincy, near Melun, 55 km southeast of Paris in the Seine-et-Marne département of France...

  • Gardens of Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
    Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
    The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a royal palace in the commune of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the département of Yvelines, about 19 km west of Paris, France. Today, it houses the Musée d'Archéologie Nationale ....

  • Gardens of Château de Saint-Cloud
    Château de Saint-Cloud
    The Château de Saint-Cloud was a Palace in France, built on a magnificent site overlooking the Seine at Saint-Cloud in Hauts-de-Seine, about 10 kilometres west of Paris. Today it is a large park on the outskirts of the capital and is owned by the state, but the area as a whole has had a large...

     (the château no longer stands but the gardens still exist)
  • Gardens of Palais des Tuileries
  • Gardens of Château de Sceaux
    Château de Sceaux
    The Château de Sceaux is a grand country house in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, not far from Paris, France. Located in a park laid out by André Le Nôtre, it houses the Musée de l’Île-de-France, a museum of local history. The former château was built for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV's minister of...

  • Gardens of Château de Fontainebleau
    Château de Fontainebleau
    The Palace of Fontainebleau, located 55 kilometres from the centre of Paris, is one of the largest French royal châteaux. The palace as it is today is the work of many French monarchs, building on an early 16th century structure of Francis I. The building is arranged around a series of courtyards...

  • Gardens of Château de Chantilly
    Château de Chantilly
    The Château de Chantilly is a historic château located in the town of Chantilly, France. It comprises two attached buildings; the Grand Château, destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s, and the Petit Château which was built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency...

  • Gardens of Château de Bercy, Charenton-le-Pont
    Charenton-le-Pont
    Charenton-le-Pont is a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. It is one of the most densely populated municipalities in Europe....

  • Gardens of château de Chambonas
    Chambonas
    Chambonas is a commune in the Ardèche department in southern France.-Population:-References:*...

  • Gardens of Château d'Issy
    Château d'Issy
    The Château d'Issy, at Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the Hauts-de-Seine department of France, was a small French Baroque château on the outskirts of Paris...

  • Avenue of Château de Hauteville in Charchigné
    Charchigné
    Charchigné is a commune in the Mayenne department in north-western France.-See also:*Communes of the Mayenne department...


See also

  • French Baroque and Classicism
    French Baroque and Classicism
    17th-century French art is generally referred to as Baroque, but from the mid to late 17th century, French art is more often referred to as Neo-classicism, which implies an adherence to certain rules of proportion and sobriety uncharacteristic of the Baroque as it was practiced in Southern and...

  • Baroque architecture
    Baroque architecture
    Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

French garden design history:
  • Gardens of the French Renaissance
    Gardens of the French Renaissance
    The Gardens of the French Renaissance is a garden style largely inspired by the Italian Renaissance garden, particularly the gardens of Florence and Rome. King Charles VIII and his nobles brought the style back to France after their campaign in Italy in 1495...

  • Garden à la française
    Garden à la française
    The French formal garden, also called jardin à la française, is a style of garden based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order over nature. It reached its apogee in the 17th century with the creation of the Gardens of Versailles, designed for Louis XIV by the landscape architect André Le...

  • French landscape garden
    French landscape garden
    The French landscape garden is a style of garden inspired by idealized Italian landscapes and the romantic paintings of Hubert Robert, Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, European ideas about Chinese gardens, and the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau...


Further reading

  • Thompson, Ian. The Sun King's Garden: Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre And the Creation of the Gardens of Versailles. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006 (hardcover, ISBN 1582346313).

External links


  • André Le Nôtre, website of the Ministry of Culture and of Communication (in French and English)
  • André Le Nôtre, biography from gardenvisit.com, landscape architecture and garden guide
  • André le Nôtre, french biography, pictures and video