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date: 24 January 2020


  • Susan B. Taylor


French Picturesque garden near Etampes, Essonne. The garden was laid out for Jean-Joseph de Laborde (1724–94) between 1784 and 1794, initially by François-Joseph Bélanger but from 1786 by the landscape painter Hubert Robert. Laborde, an immensely wealthy financier and banker to the courts of Louis XV and Louis XVI, acquired Méréville in 1784. At that time its garden consisted of regularized parterres, and he spent almost 10,000 livres, an enormous sum even at that time, on transforming it into a fashionable jardin anglais. The varied terrain of the site was enhanced by the diversion of its small river, La Juine, from its natural course to traverse the park in a serpentine manner until it reached a manmade lake. Four bridges, including one deliberately built so as to appear ruinous, were carefully placed to create the best views and further emphasize the picturesque effects of the river. In addition to the standard vocabulary of ...

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