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French Landscape Designer Le Notre Showed a Humble Side

In the early eighteenth century the English proposed a new way of looking at the landscape.

Instead of the older, formal design, the new, modern view, as they called it. was more natural, more in tune with the contours of the space.  The garden was to be designed to make it look less formal.

There continues to be this difference, the formal versus the more natural look, even to this day.

The French garden designer Andre Le Notre (1613-1700) gave the world one of the best expressions of  the formal garden in the gardens of Versailles.

I just finished reading Helen M. Fox’s biography of Le Notre called Andre Le Notre: Garden Architect to Kings.

The gardens at Versailles, designed by Andre Le Notre. [Photo courety of]
 At the end of his life, Le Notre dispels any idea that he is filled with his own greatness.

Fox said that in 1693 at he age of 80, Le Notre wrote a letter in which he “ends the letter in words revealing his charm; he says that, though proud of his work, he regards it almost as if it were something apart from himself, and he describes himself as a humble gardener.”

Le Notre accepts his work as important, but secondary to his state of being as a person.

I love that line from Fox’s book.

Accomplishments are secondary.

As the Spanish mystic John of the Cross once wrote, “In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”

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