Parc Vaux-le-Vicomte - The Predecessor Of Versailles

Parc Vaux-le-Vicomte - The Predecessor Of Versailles
Parc Vaux-le-Vicomte - The Predecessor Of Versailles

Video: Parc Vaux-le-Vicomte - The Predecessor Of Versailles

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Video: A Walk Around les Jardin de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Outside Paris 2023, February
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Vaux-le-Vicomte castle
Vaux-le-Vicomte castle

Vaux-le-Vicomte castle

We have not taken Dumas' novels into our hands for a long time. What amazing stories happened to his heroes, what hopeless situations they got out of, and how beautiful the ladies were and how courageous the gentlemen were … And these castles, palaces, parks … Right now we will try to look into the brilliant 17th century. Familiar names have already flashed across: Louis XIV, Queen Anne of Austria, Cardinal Mazarin, Colbert, d'Artagnan, Le Nôtre, Vatel, Moliere. Here are new faces, let's get acquainted: Nicolas Fouquet (1615-1680) - Minister of Finance and owner of the amazing castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte, which shocked his contemporaries with its luxury.

Portrait of Nicolas Fouquet
Portrait of Nicolas Fouquet

Portrait of Nicolas Fouquet

Fouquet acquired a small estate in 1641 because of its favorable position: it is located 55 km from Paris on the way between the two royal residences - Vincennes Castle and Fontainebleau. The acquisition of these lands allowed them to stay close to the court and provide services to the king during the move from one residence to another. Then Fouquet's dream arose: to build a castle of unprecedented beauty here in order to receive the king in it with truly royal luxury so that guests will remember it for a lifetime. He wanted to merge nature, architecture and art and create a park near the palace with unexpected perspectives, water ideas and mysterious corners.

To do this, it was necessary to radically change the landscape, demolish 3 villages and an old castle, break terraces on rough terrain, change the river bed and bring water to many artificial reservoirs and fountains. Clearing and drainage work began immediately after the purchase of land in 1641. 18,000 workers worked on the transformation of the landscape. Particularly intensive work on the creation of the park was carried out from 1656 to 1661.

Portrait of Andre Le Nôtre
Portrait of Andre Le Nôtre

Portrait of Andre Le Nôtre

To make his dream come true, Fouquet attracted to the construction of the most talented and already recognized contemporaries: the architect Louis Leveaux, the decorator Lebrun and the builder of Le Nôtre parks. The main responsibility fell on the shoulders of Le Nôtre, who was entrusted with the creation of a single ensemble, including all the buildings of the estate. Fouquet gave the master complete freedom and boundless territory, allowing him to show the full power of his genius. Le Nôtre began work in Vaud in 1653, and the result was the birth of the first classical French park, in which everything is planned and foreseen, from the size of each object to the impression it should make. Nature here is only material for the artist's imagination.

According to the plan, the Ankei River bed was turned 45 degrees and retracted into pipes, a canal and a reservoir with a volume of over 2000 cubic meters were dug in order to provide water to all reservoirs and fountains of the future park.

The art of Le Nôtre is unique: he inscribes architectural structures in the plan of the park ensemble so delicately that it is impossible to remove a single component. The main planning axis permeates the entire territory of the estate, systematizing its space. It passes through the center of the ceremonial courtyard and the Oval Hall of the Palace, continues with the central and Water Alley in the park and now ends at the foot of the statue of Hercules, which closes the perspective. In later works, Le Nôtre will leave the perspective open, going into infinity. According to the original plan, the main axis began and ended with a three-lane of roads diverging at an angle of 60 degrees towards neighboring settlements. This element will be repeated many times in the future, in particular at Versailles, emphasizing the importance of the place where all roads flow.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. A. Le Nôtre's plan
Vaux-le-Vicomte. A. Le Nôtre's plan

Vaux-le-Vicomte. A. Le Nôtre's plan

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Renovated manor plan
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Renovated manor plan

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Renovated manor plan

The main axis is crossed by 3 axes perpendicular to it, which divide the entire space into 4 parts. The first transverse axis passes through the enfilades of the ceremonial halls of the first floor of the palace, cutting off the northern part with three paths of access roads, the ceremonial courtyard, the palace and services from the park zone. The second transverse axis delimits the first and second parterre terraces with an alley. The third axis runs along the channel and itself serves as a water parterre, separating the second terrace from the final chord of the ensemble - the Grotto of the River Gods and the hill with the statue of Hercules.

The unprecedented scale of construction caused envy and gossip at the court. The king's secretary, Colbert, gradually inspired the young Louis XIV that the palace was being built with stolen state money. Fouquet was going to return the location of king by organizing a celebration for him on the occasion of the completion of the construction of the palace. On August 17, 1661, the minister invited Louis XIV, along with the entire court, to a feast in his new fairytale castle, which was unmatched at that time. Fouquet wanted so much to make the holiday unforgettable, magical, and unique. And, unfortunately, he succeeded. The vanity of the minister defeated the arguments of reason and friends, who insisted on being careful.

The unprecedented luxury of the reception so outraged Louis XIV that soon an order for the arrest of Fouquet followed and the initiation of a case of embezzlement and treason. The arrest and strictly isolated detention of the detainee were personally entrusted to d'Artagnan, the most real real Count Charles Ogier de Baz de Castelmore d'Artagnan. Fouquet was sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement in the fortress of Pignerol. All 3 years from the moment of his arrest and until the door of the cell in Pignerola was closed behind Fouquet, d'Artagnan was inseparable from the defendant. The imposed strict isolation of the prisoner was so severe that Fouquet became one of the candidates for the role of the mysterious personality in the iron mask.

After the arrest of the owner, the estate was requisitioned, all valuable things - tapestries, furniture, dishes, sculpture and all orange trees - were taken to the Louvre, from where they were later transported to Versailles.

The fate of the estate after the arrest of the owner is dramatic: after 12 years, Madame Fouquet received the empty palace back. From 1705 to 1875, the estate passed from hand to hand, miraculously survived during the French Revolution of 1789 and gradually fell into disrepair. In 1875, Alfred Saumier, a large industrial sugar manufacturer and philanthropist, redeems the estate and devotes his entire future life and means of its restoration. The work is supervised by the architect Gabriel Destalier. In the process of restoring the estate, Israel Sylvester's drawings of 1660 serve as his primary source on the gardens of Vaud.

Israel Sylvester. View of the garden from the palace. (In the center - parterre-broderie, on the right - parterre Crown, on the left - flower parterre)
Israel Sylvester. View of the garden from the palace. (In the center - parterre-broderie, on the right - parterre Crown, on the left - flower parterre)

Israel Sylvester. View of the garden from the palace. (In the center - parterre-broderie, on the right - parterre Crown, on the left - flower parterre).

Collecting antique furniture, recreating the interiors of the palace and the regular park, Saumier wanted to return the 17th century splendor to the estate, believing that modern achievements would only spoil it. He was so afraid of fire that until 1900 he used only candlelight, as in the old days. Friends hardly convinced the owner of the safety of electricity. Maybe since then it has become a tradition to hold from May to October on Saturdays "Evening by candlelight", when the palace and the park are illuminated by 2000 candles and bowls of oil, recreating the atmosphere of the 17th century. The sight is amazing, the only pity is that with such lighting it is impossible to see and photograph all the delights of the interior and the park. The candlelit evening ends with fireworks of gold and silver against the night sky.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Candlelight evening
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Candlelight evening

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Candlelight evening

Since 1965, Vaux-le-Vicomte has received the status of a state historical reserve, although it is still the private property of the heir of Saumier, Count Patrick de Vogue.

It's time for us to take a closer look at the miracle of the 17th century - the first classic French park.

The road leading to the gate of the palace looks very romantic: it is a rather narrow alley of mighty plane trees for two-way traffic of cars, along which, as it seems, only carriages and cavalcades of horsemen should move. Earlier, 3 identical roads converged to the gates of the estate, forming a radial three-ray. Finally, before us is the fence of Vaux-le-Viscount, behind which the palace is visible. The lattice, leaving an open view of the palace, was an innovation in the 17th century compared to the blank gates and high stone fences of feudal castles.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Manor gate
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Manor gate

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Manor gate

Right outside the gate, a huge courtyard is waiting for us, divided by paths into 4 green squares of lawns. The courtyard is bounded on both sides by brick walls of utility services. To our right are the stables, here and now there is a museum of historical carriages, to the left, among other buildings, are greenhouses and a church.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Services with a greenhouse building
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Services with a greenhouse building

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Services with a greenhouse building

The buildings of the services are built of red brick, with white stone trim in the traditional French style, against their background, the palace of white stone festively stands out against the background of the earth and the sky.

It rises on an artificial bulk island surrounded by a wide moat with a bridge over it. The moat performs a purely decorative function, we cross it along a stone bridge, cross the front yard, climb the stairs to the door and we are surprised to see that the palace can be seen right through: through the windows of the lower floor you can see the park stretching behind the halls of the palace.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Moat around the palace
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Moat around the palace

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Moat around the palace

Vaux-le-Vicomte surprises visitors even now, what was the surprise of Fouquet's guests in the 17th century ?! For the courtiers, everything here was unusual and new: the white-stone walls of the palace, the absence of a blank fence around it, the absence of a grand staircase that occupies the entire lobby, a huge oval hall from where the entire parterre can be seen, the use of mirrors to imitate window openings and a park full of unexpected impressions. The closedness of space, characteristic of feudal castles, where everything was aimed at defense and inaccessibility, disappeared, peace, joy of life and openness reign in V.

By the 20th century, the area of ​​the estate had significantly decreased. Outside the reserve, there were radial three-beams of roads and forests adjacent to the bosquets. Le Nôtre brilliantly coped with the relief changes over a huge area, laying the main planning axis from north to south, bringing together all parts of the park as it passed through the entire estate. In the lobby of the palace, you will be asked to buy a ticket for the rooftop balcony. From here, a magical view of the entire parterre opens, the length of which is 1200 m from the palace to the statue of Hercules.

Model of the park Vaux-le-Vicomte
Model of the park Vaux-le-Vicomte

Model of the park Vaux-le-Vicomte

Vaux-le-Vicomte. View of the parterre from the balcony of the palace
Vaux-le-Vicomte. View of the parterre from the balcony of the palace

Vaux-le-Vicomte. View of the parterre from the balcony of the palace

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Parterre broderie
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Parterre broderie

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Parterre broderie

From above, the plan will come to life and appear in all its glory. Coming out of the palace onto the first, highest park terrace, we see two symmetrical broderie parterres (fr. Broderie - embroidery, pattern, sewing) at the foot of the stairs. Intricate live arabesques of green bushes of neatly trimmed boxwood stand out brightly against the background of crumbs of red brick and black anthracite, which are covered with the parterre area between plantings. Broderes were completely lost and recreated from Sylvester's engravings and drawings by Le Nôtre in 1923 by A. Duchenne.

In the left corner of the terrace there is the "Crown" bosquet. The lowland that existed here was converted by Le Nôtre into a bosquet. This is one of the characteristic bowlingrin works of the master - an understated section of the parterre, consisting exclusively of green walls of bush and lawn. A fountain with a gilded crown stands out against the background of greenery. The working fountains and cascades can be seen on the second and last Saturday of each month from March to October from 15.00 to 18.00.

The right corner of the terrace is occupied by a flower parterre. The place of the fountains is still indicated by vases with flowers. Such parterres are the pinnacle of landscape design skills, because they must maintain their festive blooming appearance all the time. This requires a well thought-out planting program of consistently flowering plants that match in height and color, as well as constant careful maintenance.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Bosquet Crown
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Bosquet Crown

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Bosquet Crown

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Flower parterre
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Flower parterre

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Flower parterre

The bosquets, edged with green walls of trimmed trees and shrubs, form a series of open-air halls. They serve as walls and background for parterre fragments. As furniture is placed in halls and rooms, sculptures are placed in the French regular park and decoratively trimmed bushes and trees - topiary - are planted. They mark the entrance to the bosquets, separating them from one another, or zoning the parterre space. Their position and shape are well thought out and not accidental.

To the right of the flower parterre in the bosquet behind the light forged lattice of the gate is a vegetable garden. The owner had something to brag about in front of the ubiquitous guests. The brilliant gardener Lacentini first used greenhouses here for early cultivation of fruits and vegetables for the festive table. Later, together with the talented creators of the palace and park ensemble, Lacentini will be invited by the king to Versailles, where he will create a unique Royal Garden.

The second park terrace is a few steps below the first and has a slight slope. The secret of the harmony of the general appearance of the parterres lies in the enlargement of details and an increase in the area as the objects move away from the palace.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Sculptural group on the border of the first and second terraces
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Sculptural group on the border of the first and second terraces

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Sculptural group on the border of the first and second terraces

The border of the terraces is now guarded by lions and tigers by the sculptor J. Garde (1863-1939). The transverse alley at the feet of these majestic predators is the second transverse planning axis. It passes through the Round Pond and abuts against the Water Lattice, which is balanced by the garden gate grill at the other end of the axis. The water grid is a fountain of a series of identical vertical streams between two terms, decorated with faces that personify the four times of a person's life. In the 17th century, two human figures stood on the sides of the baths, and not sculptures of dogs, as now. The water grid is raised above the level of the terrace and is very reminiscent of a theater stage with backstage. The role of wings is played by steps with similar fountains from small jets. It was this platform that served as the stage for Moliere for the play "The Boring Ones", performed on August 17, 1661.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. An engraving with a view of the Water Lattice in the 17th century
Vaux-le-Vicomte. An engraving with a view of the Water Lattice in the 17th century

Vaux-le-Vicomte. An engraving with a view of the Water Lattice in the 17th century.

On the day of the holiday, the courtiers were shocked by the continuous shining curtain of jets of fountains in the Water Lattice. Now on the "Molière stage" there is a cafe called "Dream Vo", of the same name with the title of La Fontaine's poem. Sun loungers, classical music and champagne will let you relax and dream. It is open during candlelight evenings from 17.00 to 23.00. The rest of the time it reveals itself only as a series of closed umbrellas between two lines of fountains.

The main axis on the second terrace is drawn by the Water Alley, which begins just behind the Round Pond, surrounded by 17th century Italian sculpture. The pond is the point of intersection of the planning axes.

When the fountains were working, a suspension of spray hung over the Water Alley, their rainbow halo emphasized the direction of the axis. We will not be able to admire such a spectacular spectacle, the Water Alley has not yet been restored. Along the sides of this alley are the symmetrical Triton Pools, decorated with sculptures of Triton trumpeting shells surrounded by playful little putti and naiads.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Water grate now
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Water grate now

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Water grate now

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Triton basin
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Triton basin

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Triton basin

The park was designed by Le Nôtre so that from any point on the parterre we see the palace as the center of the composition. / 2 photos / Besides, every corner could serve as a decoration for any show. This feature is readily used by modern filmmakers, filming historical films in Vaud. Here were filmed "Lunar Wanderer" 1979, "The Man in the Iron Mask" 1989, "D'Artagnan's Daughter" 1994, "Vatel" 2000.

Le Nôtre paid great attention to water. In its parks, water is always present in all its diversity. It then bursts into the sky from the fountain, shimmering with all the facets of diamond streams, then it rustles with a powerful waterfall, then it lies in a silent mirror, then it gurgles in a gentle stream.

He skillfully combines various elements of the landscape, giving viewers a quick change of impressions. At the end of the Water Alley, Le Nôtre prepared another surprise for the audience: a mirror in the form of a huge rectangular pool with an area of ​​4000 sq. m. In calm weather, you can see the full reflection of the palace.

To the right of the Mirror Pool is the Confessional Grotto. Its interior space is divided by arches into small niches, similar to church confessionals. A magnificent panorama of the park opens from the observation deck above the grotto.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Grotto Confessional
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Grotto Confessional

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Grotto Confessional

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Grotto of the River Gods and Pool Mirror
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Grotto of the River Gods and Pool Mirror

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Grotto of the River Gods and Pool Mirror

From the palace itself, we noticed that the main axis abuts against the massive Grotto of the River Gods. The structure of the grotto is edged on both sides by a staircase leading up to a green hill. Coming close to the edge of the terrace, we find that the road suddenly drops off, the ground leaves from under our feet, and we stand on a high retaining wall, decorated with the Cascade and sculptural groups of children with hippocampus. The unexpectedness of the effect provides a large difference in heights. From the wall of the Cascade there is a beautiful view of the hill with Hercules and the parterre we passed, and below at our feet there is another, this time a water parterre, located about 4 m below the second terrace. Its main elements are water and sculpture.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Retaining wall cascade
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Retaining wall cascade

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Retaining wall cascade

According to the plan of Le Nôtre, in a deep hollow, along the bottom of which the Ankei River flowed, a water parterre was located. The channel was developed and transformed into the Canal 1000 m long and 40 m wide, which became the third transverse axis in its plan. We go down the steep stairs to the Water Parterre, leaving all the hustle and bustle of the crowded holiday upstairs, here we are surrounded by silence, peace and the pacifying splash of jets. At the foot of the Cascade there is a vast area covered with white limestone chips.

The water cuts off the further path along the central axis of the park, and in order to reach the foot of the statue of Hercules, you need to go around the canal ending in the east with a huge round bowl, which was dubbed the Skovoroda for its shape, or cross the canal by boat. Old engravings show boats sailing along the canal, which unfolded in this pond. During the royal reception, the boats for the guests' ride were decorated in the form of huge swans.

The opposite bank of the Channel is decorated with the Grotto of the River Gods, opposite which the Channel expands, as if wishing to lie tenderly at the feet of its masters. The river gods, carved from drawings by N. Poussin in the 17th century, gaze thoughtfully at their reflection. The sculpture of the Tiber is in the left niche of the Grotto, and Ankei is in the right. An amazing, philosophical sight is presented by two Ankei: the sculptural personification of the river sadly looks at its own reflection and, probably, recalls the Fouquet holiday. Between the niches of the Grotto there are seven vaults with depressions in the rusticated wall and bas-reliefs of the Atlanteans.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Sculpture of Ankei in the Grotto
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Sculpture of Ankei in the Grotto

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Sculpture of Ankei in the Grotto

At the foot of the Grotto of the River Gods, in the widening of the channel, there used to be a sculptural group with a statue of Neptune. Now this place is empty.

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Engraving with a view of the Grotto of the River Gods and a sculptural group with Neptune
Vaux-le-Vicomte. Engraving with a view of the Grotto of the River Gods and a sculptural group with Neptune

Vaux-le-Vicomte. Engraving with a view of the Grotto of the River Gods and a sculptural group with Neptune

Behind the Grotto of the River Gods, on the last terrace of the park, gently sloping down to the canal, lay the last surprise of Lenotre - the Sheaf Pool. It was the apotheosis of the composition: it is located above the Grotto of the River Gods and dominated the entire park. Its name comes from the powerful jets of the fountain 3 m high, billowing upwards in the form of a sheaf. In the painting "Visit of Maria Leshchinskaya to Vaud in 1727" we see the estate during the reign of Louis XV. Shown here are all the fountains in action, with the Sheaf Fountain and the Cascade Falls in the foreground.

Maria Leshchinskaya's visit to Vaud in 1727
Maria Leshchinskaya's visit to Vaud in 1727

Maria Leshchinskaya's visit to Vaud in 1727

So we got to the mighty figure of Hercules, against which the main planning axis of the estate rests. If the sculpture were not so athletic, it might not have held back all the power of the central axis, resting on the chest of Hercules. Until the 19th century. the perspective of the main axis remained open, as in later works by Le Nôtre, until the copy of the statue of Hercules by Farnese was returned to its place.

The party in Vaux-le-Vicomte culminated in a fireworks display in the illuminated park, with a final exclamation mark at the end of this unforgettable day. Now we see that the famous park of Versailles and the festivals of Louis XIV held there had a worthy predecessor.

The impressions of visiting Vaud were not in vain for Louis XIV: he contracted one of the most devastating diseases - construction mania. All the creators of the palace and park ensemble in Vaux-le-Vicomte were invited by the king to build a royal residence in Versailles. It was impossible to even think of a refusal to the king, and the already welded collective of masters, which included Le Nôtre, Lebrun, Levo and Lacentini, began work on a new object that would glorify their names for centuries.

Literature:

1. Abelasheva G.V. “Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte. Versailles "1995, M.," Art ", 256 p.

2. Sefrioui Anne "Vaux le Vicomte", Paris, "Editions Scala", 64 rubles.

3. Ptifis J.-C. "True d'Artagnan" 2004, M., "Young Guard", 207s.

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