The Making of the French Garden: The Gardens of the Château de Méréville and Other Early Jardins à l’Anglaise of the Pre-Revolutionary Period

Date: 17 Feb 2022, 1:00pm - 2:00pm (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

February 17 at 12 noon Chicago/1 pm Miami/19h Paris

The Making of the French Garden:   

The Gardens of the Château de Méréville and Other Early Jardins à l’Anglaise of the Pre-Revolutionary Period

The “English” style garden arrived in France shortly after the end of the Seven Years War (1756-1763). The so-called “jardins anglais” or “jardins à l’anglaise” emulated the natural character of English landscape gardens such as Stowe or Blenheim, but on a much reduced scale and with a greater degree of eclecticism and whimsy. A dramatic break with the French Classical tradition, such “irregular” style gardens often combined a naturalistic topography with exotic structures, romantic ruins or antique temples and monuments. They embodied an ideal of nature artistically “improved”. Early examples of jardins à l’anglaise in France include Ermenonville, the Parc Monceau then on the outskirts of Paris, the Château de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, and the Hameau de la Reine (the Queen’s Hamlet) at the Petit Trianon in Versailles, but the two most extensive landscape gardens, complete with follies and picturesque features – parcs à fabriques – were the Désert de Retz near Versailles and the Château de Méréville in the Essonne department south of Paris. The Château de Méréville was built by the financier Jean-Joseph de Laborde between 1784 and 1794. The park’s Romantic – sometimes called Anglo-Chinese – style soon replaced the more formal and symmetrical Classical gardens of the 17th century as the principal gardening style both in France and throughout Europe. 

About our speaker:

Gabriel Wick, who gave last week’s talk about the Gardens of Versailles, is a Paris-based landscape historian, writer and curator. He is an adjunct lecturer in architectural and urban history at the Paris campus of New York University. He received his doctorate in history from the University of London (QMUL) in 2017, and holds masters degrees in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley and historic landscape conservation from the National Architecture School of Versailles (ÉNSA – Versailles). He is the author of a number of books and scholarly articles on 18th French landscapes, including Le Domaine de Méréville - Renaissance d’un Jardin (Éditions des Falaises, 2018). He is currently consulting with the Foundation Chambrun on the conservation management plan of the Marquis de Lafayette’s domain of La Grange-Bléneau.   

Support and Save! Become an Alliance Française member for as little as $65 a year for a membership and save on a pass for the series. Register only once and get your pass plus a weekly reminder emailed to you. 

Series of 8 lectures (for members only) $70 


This program is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française Chicago with communication support from the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA.  the French Heritage Society, the Historic Gardens Foundation, The Garden Conservancy and WICE


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