~ Pre -revolution
~Fashion in Les Mis
In the 17th century French gardens were constructed in a style that emphasized the control and manipulation of nature. Garden architects attempted to create large gardens with many sections, that overall possessed a geometrical design.
The control of nature was apparent in three very popular
aspects of French gardens: aviaries, menageries and fountains.
The inclusion of these aspects in private gardens was a statement of
wealth, as well as an easy was to entertain guests. In the garden of
Tuileries, Marie de Medici kept an aviary near the amphitheater. Here
the bird's cages were covered with branches so that visitors could be
entertained by the bird concert while enjoying the illusion of being
in a wild forest. Since zoos were not yet a formal institution in 17th
century France, many menageries contained wild and exotic animals. In
the 17th century Versailles contained a menagerie so large that it included
apartments and a salon in the middle where nobles could enjoy the solitude
of the countryside.
Another very important aspect of French gardens was
water. The theory of the French garden was the formal subordination
of nature to reason and order with a simultaneous romantic awareness
of nature's freedom. Water was the perfect metaphor for this practice.
Architects could alter the flow of water and could manipulate it in
the form of fountains and pools, however, water always maintained a
certain level of freedom with the light and images it reflected. These
reflections also played into the idea of French gardens as a step out
of reality and into an almost dream-like atmosphere. Water was also
important because it was another display of wealth, as pumping devices
and construction of fountains were costly endeavors. In August of 1668
the Grand Fete was presented over a number of days in the garden of
Versailles. Daily water displays consumed more water per day than the
pumps of Samaritaine delivered to the entire population of Paris, approximately
However, in the next century, the style of French gardens began to change towards a freer, more natural view. To learn more about 18th century gardens please go to the following link: 18th century gardens
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