The Gardens Trust Online Talk: English Gardens in Pre-Revolutionary France – Mereville and Betz

Date: Monday 11 April 2022

Monday 11th 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?

The Marquis de Laborde’s Méréville & the Princesse de Monaco’s Betz

The Jardin Anglais movement culminated in two vast and extravagant landscape gardens created on the eve of the Revolution, the Marquis de Laborde’s Méréville and the Princesse de Monaco’s Betz. Created on vast sites with essentially unlimited budgets, both landscapes offered a succession of arcadian, and lyrical scenes punctuated by unsettling confrontations with the force of ‘untamed nature’ and melancholic ruins. Laborde and Monaco would bring together France’s foremost artistic talents – Hubert Robert, Pajou, Belanger and Brongniart – to create these total immersive artworks. While Betz is currently inaccessible, a forthcoming exhibition at Chantilly will explore the story of its owner and her remarkable creation. Méréville, after long years of ruin and neglect, which endowed the garden with its own poetry, is currently the subject of one of the most ambitious and costly garden restoration projects on the continent.  For all the details and to book your place, please click here.

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