|Laborde by Alexander Roslin, |
Cover image from the biography by Jean-Pierre Thomas & François d'Ormesson
Saturday 30 October 2021
Tuesday 26 October 2021
For a scholarly description of the garden at Betz and its creation, the English-speaking reader is referred to Gabriel Wick's article, which is available on H-Net.
Saturday 23 October 2021
Tuesday 19 October 2021
I have a bad habit of finding interesting exhibitions several years after they have closed....Here, before the notices disappear from the internet, are some notes from a exhibition on Hubert Robert as "composer of landscapes", which took place in Autumn 2017. The exhibition, curated by Gabriel Wick, was held in the beautiful and dramatically-located Château de la Roche-Guyon, in the Vale d'Oise, which is owned by the La Rochefoucauld family.
The exhibition offered an opportunity to present some of the new research of Gabriel Wick and others on Robert's less-well known garden projects - at the Château du Val, the Hôtel de Noailles in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, at Betz, and, above all at La Roche-Guyon itself. It brought together some sixteen paintings, thirty four drawings and a number of architectural models and published works from both private and public collections. Also featured were photographs by Catherine Pachowski of the surviving fabriques - many of which are now in poor state of preservation.
The exhibits were set out in the public rooms of the Château on ground floor overlooking the grounds. Also offered were tours of the remnants of the jardin anglais at Laroche-Guyon - which has since been opened to the public on a regular basis..
Monday 18 October 2021
Here are two striking oil paintings of Méréville by Hubert Robert which were auctioned by Sotheby's New York in January of last last year. Although they have been previously exhibited and documented, this is the first time that images have been readily accessible on the internet. According to the catalogue notes, the pictures originally hung in Laborde's hôtel in the rue Cerutti and were at one time the property of comte Alexandre de Laborde (1853-1944) the financier's great-grandson. The sale price was $620,000, which was within the estimate.
Thursday 7 October 2021
Description des nouveaux jardins de la France et de ses anciens châteaux - Google Books
The English translation is given in the book itself.
SEVENTEEN leagues from Paris and three from Etampes, in the middle of the lonely plains of Beauce, is a charming valley watered by a small river called the Juine, which is never known either to freeze or to overflow. Even very near its source it becomes sufficiently deep to carry boats, and its channel is sufficiently elevated to give all the effect which can be wished for in the composition of the landscape.
It displays all its beauty particularly in the neighbourhood of Méréville. This spot has accordingly been fixed upon for planting one of the finest gardens in the environs of Paris.
The river, which is the principal beauty of the spot, divides into two branches. The one flows in its natural channel, turns several mills and afterwards forms a cascade of two feet, which is seen and heard from the mansion; from thence it spreads through the valley, forming several islands and delightful walks. Its banks are planted with trees so fine and so high, that a boat may sail in the shade round the whole garden. The other branch runs in a subterraneous aqueduct for the space of three quarters of a league, and again makes its appearance through an artificial grotto of rocks in the interior of a building which was intended for a dairy.
The water rushes in the first place into a basin raised in the middle of the grotto, and is afterwards distributed through the room by spouts ornamented with white marble. The pavement as well as the parapets are also of white marble. The coolness of this place, the gentle light which it receives from above and the beauty of the marble , recalls to mind the Arabian authors and the ancient Eastern Fairy Tales. Upon leaving this building, the river, continuing its subterraneous passage, at last falls again into its own bed by a cascade of from ten to twelve feet high, and forms one of the finest situations which any mountainous country can present to the view.
The whole rising ground which commands this site, is planted with tall ever-greens, the rocks are overgrown with ivy, creepers and other plants of that kind. Steps are hewn in the rock leading to the bottom of the cascade as well as to several vaults which are near it.
.... In ignota, Palinure, jacebis arena. VIRG., V, 871. Et statuent tumulum, et lumulo solemnia mittent. VIRG VI, 380
Wednesday 6 October 2021
In this video you can see the actress Catherine Deneuve starring (in English) in an new, unexpected role, that of "godmother" to an 18th-century garden!
The garden in question is the park at Méréville, near Étampes, which, like La Ferté-Vidame, once belonged to the financier Jean-Joseph Laborde; The restoration is yet another ambitious and ongoing French heritage project
Laborde acquired the estate at Méréville in 1784, shortly after he had surrendered La Ferté-Vidame. He employed the most renowned architects of the age - François-Joseph Bélanger and Hubert Robert "of the ruins" - to collaborate with him on the design of the park. The result was one of the last, and finest, of the naturalistic jardins pittoresques, of the pre-Revolutionary years, admired by contemporaries, along with Ermenonville and the gardens of the princesse de Monaco at Betz.