André Le Nôtre

views updated Jun 27 2018

André Le Nôtre

The French landscape architect André Le Nôtre (1613-1700), or Le Nostre, gave to the art of the formal garden its most monumental and definitive expression. His style spread to every corner of Europe.

Born in Paris on March 12, 1613, André Le Nôtre was early trained in the practical aspects of gardening procedure, being both the son and grandson of gardeners who had worked at the palace of the Tuileries. The possibility of raising this craft to a noble art form was greatly enhanced by his study of painting under Simon Vouet and by his knowledge of architecture, very possibly learned from François Mansart. In addition to this sound academic training, La Nôtre's style was formed by careful study of the writings on perspective and optics by Salomon de Caus and Père Nicéron.

Though Le Nôtre succeeded to the position of his father as chief gardener at the Tuileries in 1637, it was not until he began his work on Nicolas Fouquet's château of Vaux-le-Vicomte in 1655 that the landscape architect became famous. Here, in collaboration with the architect Louis Le Vau, Le Nôtre had for the first time the opportunity to create an entire château and garden complex which ultimately resulted in an unparalleled visual harmony of the whole. Throughout the gardens, which were designed as a logical architectural extension of the structure they served, there is a spirit of ordered discipline, geometric formality, and perfect equilibrium among the various components— fountains, sculptures, parterres, and architectural elements.

Upon the completion of Vaux in 1661, Le Nôtre was active in the service of King Louis XIV, redesigning the gardens of Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and the Tuileries. Le Nôtre's masterpiece was the vast garden project for Versailles, which he began in 1662 and which engaged his talents throughout the remainder of the century. For Louis XIV he also executed the gardens of the Grand Trianon and Clagny, and for the French nobility he designed the splendid garden complexes of Sceaux, Chantilly, Meudon, Saint-Cloud, and Pontchartrain. Among the lesser gardens to which his name assuredly can be attached are those of Maintenon, Saint-Cyr, the Palais Royal, and Gaillon.

In referring to Le Nôtre's death on Sept. 15, 1700, the Mercure de France wrote, "The king has just lost a man rare and zealous for his service, a man who, very singular in his art, did him great honor."

Further Reading

Major studies in English of Le Nôtre are Helen Fox, André Le Nôtre: Garden Architect to Kings (1962), and F. Hamilton Hazlehurst, Gardens of Illusion: The Genius of André Le Nôtre (1972), in which the life and works of the landscape architect are examined in detail.

Additional Sources

André Le Nôtre: (1613-1700): critical study, Lewes, Sussex: Book Guild, 1986.

Hazlehurst, F. Hamilton (Franklin Hamilton), 1925-, Gardens of illusion: the genius of André Le Nôtre, Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1980. □

Nôtre, André Le

views updated May 29 2018

Nôtre, André Le (1613–1700). Creative designer of formal gardens in C17 France, his greatest project was the Park at Versailles, with fountains, canals, avenues, and parterres (1661–87). His work for Louis XIV was enormously influential throughout Europe. In 1657 he was appointed Contrôleur Général des Bâtiments, Jardins, Tapisseries, et Manufactures de France after he had begun work on the design of the gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte (laid out 1656–61) for Nicolas Fouquet (1651–80). For the newly restored King Charles II (1660–85) of Great Britain and Ireland he designed the park at Greenwich (1662—much decayed). He carried out works at Chantilly (1663–88), St-Germain-en-Laye (1663–73), and the Tuileries, Paris. The gardens at Clagny (1674–6), Maintenon (1674–8), Meudon (1654 and 1679–82), the Palais Royal (1674), St-Cloud (1665–78), and Sceaux (1673–7), were also his work. In 1698 he designed a garden at Windsor, Berks., for King William III (1689–1702). His ideas and the essential principles of his designs were recorded by Antoine Joseph Dezallier d'Argenville (1680–1765) in his La Théorie et la pratique du jardinage (1709), the most important treatise on the formal French garden published in C18: it was translated into English and German, and went into several editions, thereby disseminating the principles of French garden design throughout the civilized world.


W. H. Adams (1979);
H. Fox (1962);
Ganay (1952);
Hazlehurst (1980);
Hazlehurst (ed.) (1974);
Jeannel (1985);
Laird (1992);
Mariage et al. (1999);
Roudaut (2000);
V. J. Scully & and Baubion-Mackler (1992);
A. Weiss (1995)

Le Nôtre, André

views updated May 14 2018

Le Nôtre, André (1613–1700) French landscape gardener. His grandiose, architectural style established the French garden as the leading style in contemporary Europe. Le Nôtre became royal gardener in 1637 and, from the 1650s, created formal gardens for some of France's grandest châteaux and palaces, such as Versailles, Chantilly, and Les Tuileries in Paris.

Le Nôtre, André

views updated Jun 11 2018

Le Nôtre, André (1613–1700). See Nôtre.

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