Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Andre Le Notre

Andre Le Notre was a landscaper and garden architect of the mid to late 17th century; he was most notably the personal gardener of King Louis XIV of France. During Le Notre’s time as well as the subsequent years after his death, King Louis XIV has been known for his extravagant private gardens that now serve as public parks to the French people. Le Notre was the architect of many of these gardens, most notably the chateau de Chantilly, chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the chateau as well as city plan of the city of Versailles.
From his birth in Paris in 1613, Andre Le Notre was surrounded by a long family line of illustrious gardeners in service of the French aristocracy; he succeeded his father, Jean Le Notre who was the personal gardener of King Louis XIII. With his father and grandfather both proficient in the theory and practice of landscape architecture, Andre Le Notre must have been able to learn the trade at a very early age and develop his skills quickly. It is evident through study of his life experience that Le Notre was very much interested in other forms of artistic endeavor other than palace gardening. He studied architecture and mathematics and was even enrolled under the tutelage of King Louis XIII’s personal painter.
Some of Le Notre’s early work included the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte for which he worked in collaboration with Louis Le Vau and Charles Le Brun. For one of his first works, the site was revered and Le Notre’s name became renowned for his craft. The grand openings of Le Notre’s gardens were often celebrated with extravagant parties fit for kings; one such occasion surrounds the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte. The celebration was planned and supervised by King Louis XIV’s superintendent of finances for the state, Nicolas Fouquet. Fouquet held a grand feast at which every guest was given a horse; such extravagancy was seen as upstaging the king himself and Fouquet was arrested by the legendary d’Artagnan.
Over the course of his career, Andre Le Notre became known for many gardens and chateaus as well as for the largest avenue in Europe at the time. With the momentum he gained from the grandeur and completion of the Avenue de Paris, Le Notre was able to plan and complete subsequent masterpieces later in his life. Le Notre was not just under the employ of King Louis XIV but also English and German royalty. With the respect of kings and European Nobility, Le Notre was able to attain prominence throughout Europe and acquire followers and students for his trade. He traveled outside of France to work on gardens in Italy and lay plans for the like in Germany and England as well. Even after his retirement in 1693 at the age of eighty, Le Notre’s service was in demand by European aristocracy until his death seven years later. To this day, the work of Andre Le Notre can be seen through the preservation of his greatest works throughout France and Italy.

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