The Gardens Trust Online Talk: English Gardens in Pre-Revolutionary France – Marie-Antoinette’s Petit Trianon

Date: Monday 4 April 2022

Monday 4th April 2021 from 6pm until 7.30pm BST.

This talk is the third in our online series exploring the Jardins Anglais on Mons £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?

In September 1777 Marie-Antoinette invited her husband and a select number of courtiers to an inaugural fête at the Jardin Anglais of the Petit-Trianon, her personal domain within the park of Versailles. Over the preceding three years, despite the climate of fiscal austerity, the queen and her architect Richard Mique had succeeded in replacing Louis XV’s celebrated botanical gardens with rolling fields, a meandering river and clumps and woodlands. Subsequent years witnessed the addition of a temple, grotto, a dramatic alpine outcropping, and a hamlet. The prevailing interpretation of this garden is as an escapist fantasy, a refuge from a hostile court for a frivolous and unhappy young woman. This talk considers it in another light – a celebration of the autonomy and formidable influence of what was fast becoming one of the most powerful factions at court, the Partie de la Reine.  For all the details and to book your place, please click here.

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