André Le Nôtre

André Le Nôtre was known as the greatest French landscape architect in the world. He was born in Paris, France on March 12th, 1613. Even from a young age, André was heavily influenced by landscape architecture by his family. Many members of his family had careers dealing with gardens including his father, grandfather, godfather, and his godmother’s husband. Their careers ranged anywhere from administering gardens to garden illustrators. His father and grandfather worked at the Palace of Tuileries. His family’s influence allowed him to develop an early interest in art while developing the knowledge and ability to create landscape. After completing some academic training, Le Nôtre studied underneath the French painter and draftsman, Simon Vouet and the French architect, François Mansart. He also studied the works of Salomon de Caus and Père Nicéron, which helped him master the art of landscape architecture.

André Le Nôtre grew up in a house filled with gardeners and in fact at a home that was located inside the Tuileries Palace decorated with the most magnificent gardens in Paris, France. He worked under some of the most well-known architects, artists, and designers in France such as Charles Le Brun and François Mansart. Needless to say, André Le Nôtre was very well-educated.

His career began when he became the gardener of Gaston d’Orléans, who was the uncle of Louis XIV. Early on his career, around 1635, his work was dedicated to the servicing the monarchy. His first important design was the park of Vaux-le-Vicomte in 1656 to 1661. This palace was created by Louis Le Vau, an architect, Charles Le Brun, a painter decorator, and André Le Nôtre himself. They collaborated to convey a masterpiece and the beginning of the “Louis XIV” style. It brought fame and fortune to André by attracting the attention of the king, Louis XIV. Louis then entrusted André Le Nôtre the direction and management of the majority of the royal parks and gardens in France.

In 1662 while André was working on the gardens on Chantilly for the Grand Condé, Louis XIV appointed André as primary landscape architect of the renovation and expansion of the Palace of Versailles. Once again, André worked together with Charles Le Brun and Louis Le Vau to recreate the beauty of the palace. Not only did André rehabilitate the gardens, but he composed the plan that would lay the groundwork for the largest avenue in Europe at the time, the Avenue de Paris. He continued to work on many projects for King Louis XIV, including many gardens and parks, including Chateau de Chantilly, Chateau Fontainebleau, Racconigi, Saint-Cloud, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and St. James’s Park.

For all of his incredible work, Le Nôtre was ennobled by the King in 1675. After retiring in 1693, Le Nôtre remained in name as the chief gardener of King Louis XIV, until his death in 1700. André Le Nôtre was one of the first landscape architects to work on such large projects that were given to him by the king. Even today the majority of his masterpieces still stand. The Palace of Versailles is one of the main attractions for tourists going to France. André Le Nôtre is an important icon in French culture because of the impact he left on the architectural world.

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About mlleminor

Instructor in MCL French Division at the University of Kentucky
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