André Le Nôtre (1613-1700) was the greatest landscape architect in France, and his work for Louis XIV (the Sun King) laid the groundwork for the baroque style in landscaping. He also defined the essence of French landscape design -scientific, rationalist-in counterpoint to the more romantic, naturalistic English tradition and based his work on the then state-of-the-art science of optics and perspective.
The castle and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte (approximately 50 km south of Paris) were begun in 1653. They are the first great landscape designed by André Le Nôtre and mark the beginning of the baroque tradition in gardening. Many of the principles Le Nôtre tried and tested at Vaux were later employed to great acclaim at Versailles, which he designed at the height of his career.
Vaux-le-Vicomte is among the most popular French public gardens visited by tourists, roughly 50 percent of whom are from English-speaking countries.
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Published July 23, 2004
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