The gardens of Versailles are perhaps the most famous in the world. Seemingly open to the horizon, their scale is monumental. Their grand east-west axis celebrates the Sun King, even as they offer an expression of the scientific spirit of the age in their geometrical layout and exploitation of the optical properties of reflecting water. The original park design, realized by Andre Le Notre, a few advisers, and Louis XIV himself-author of The Way to Present the Gardens of Versailles-remains largely intact. Yet Louis XV made his own original contribution to the gardens at the Trianon, where later still Richard Mique and Hubert Robert designed the English garden and the delightful village beloved by Marie Antoinette.
Michel Baridon traces the history of the gardens from their inception through three centuries of their history. He stresses the cultural importance of the landscape, provides a chronology to show the stages of its growth, and discusses the contemporary challenges posed by its conservation and historical interpretation. Beautifully illustrated with archival images and commissioned photographs, A History of the Gardens of Versailles provides visitors and enthusiasts with a guide to these legendary grounds.
Michel Baridon (1926-2009) was Professor of English at the University of Burgundy. Adrienne Mason is Director of Inter-Faculty Programs in Humanities at the University of West England, Bristol.
Introduction PART I. THE STATE, THE KING, AND THE GARDENS 1. The Monarchy and the Gardens Before the Reign of Louis XIV 2. The Nature and Splendor of the Monarch 3. A New Image of Good Government PART II. THE EMPIRE OF GEOMETRY 4. Versailles and the Academies 5. The Astronomers in the Garden: Measuring Nature 6. Engineers and Gardeners: The Remodeling of the Gardeners 7. Hydraulics and Physics: Water and Air 8. The World of Plants and the Silent Progress of the Life Sciences PART III. AN OPEN-AIR PALACE: GARDENS AND THE ARTS 9. Gardens and Culture at Court 10. Le Notre: An Independent Genius 11. Le Notre's Aesthetic PART IV. THE GARDENS OF VERSAILLES FROM LOUIS XV TO THE PRESENT DAY 12. Louis XV 13. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette 14. From the Ancien Regime to the Present Day 15. History, Gardens, and Landscape Maps Chronology Notes Glossary Bibliography Index Acknowledgments