The Gardens Trust Online Talk: English Gardens in Pre-Revolutionary France – The Duc de Choiseul’s Chanteloup

Date: Monday 28 March 2022

Monday 28th March 2021 from 6pm until 7.30pm GMT.

This talk is the second in the Gardens Trust’s online series exploring the Jardins Anglais £5 each or purchase tickets for all 4 online lectures for £16.

The late 1760s saw a number of French aristocrats remake their gardens ‘à la manière anglaise’, a naturalistic taste characterised by all the ‘bizarreness so dear to that nation’. The epidemic of Anglomanie that followed the Seven Years War produced some of the most extravagant landscapes of the age – meandering rivers, mysterious woods, rocky outcrops and cascades, false ruins, philosopher’s huts, all often confined within compact suburban sites. This series of four talks considers the evolution of the Jardin Anglais from its outlandish beginnings to the sublime and transporting realisations of the late 1780s. It considers what it meant for an aristocrat to remake his or her garden in the image of the national rival at a time of heightened patriotic sentiment? What sources inspired these compositions? And how was the English aesthetic adapted to suit French tastes, mentalities and mores?

On Christmas Eve 1770 France’s political order was upended when Louis XV exiled his de facto chief minister Choiseul and his ruling clique. The urbane and wily statesman was sent from Versailles to distant Touraine and his country estate of Chanteloup. Forbidden from politics and intrigue, the duc reinvented himself as a gentleman farmer, much to the bemusement of his allies and enemies. Chanteloup boasted ‘marble’ stables, a model farm and crop yields that were celebrated in the opposition press. In 1773, he liquidated his collections and Paris properties to build a garden in the new Anglo-Chinese taste. At its heart was a towering Sino-Doric pagoda, loosely modelled on that of Kew. An improbable survivor, this costly monument to factionalism is the only trace of Chanteloup to survive. The extensive correspondence of his allies and reports in the newsletter press, however, offer remarkable insights into this opposition domain.  For all the details and to book your place, please click here.

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