The Repton Gazette and Brown Advisor

300 Frequently Asked Questions about Capability Brown, and a further 200 about Humphry Repton

103: Were there landscapers in the English style in France?

Mrs D of Hampshire has been in touch again to ask for a list of English-style landscapes in France.

A list must seemingly exclude as much as it includes, and I would have preferred to exclude myself too from the correspondence – and would have done, but for Monsieur B, whose correspondence I recently reported (note 101) and who has complained that France has no equivalent of Capability Brown, no champions of the English style.

Monsieur B is too hard on his country. I make no secret of my admiration for André Le Nôtre (note 87), but I should also like to put in a word for Girardin (note 50). His garden at Ermenonville is as good as anything in England, or better, and has the great advantage of Rousseau’s tomb.

Then we would be remiss to overlook Beloeil, and François-Joseph Bélanger at Méréville, Méréville was said in its prime to out-Kent Kent. It would be easy for the English to judge Bélanger prone to over-ornamentation, and to prefer Hubert Robert – another fine designer who followed him at Méréville. But why why why why must the English worry so about the origins of the anglo-chinois tradition in France? Let China have it, for it has everything to do with China and borrows nothing from England. Anyway I like to recall that Bélanger was a friend to the great Swedish designer, Fredrik Magnus Piper, when he was studying in France.

Instead of querying it, might we do better to wonder whether it was the over-wrought rococo of the anglo-chinois tradition in France that inflamed her revolutionaries to believe that they had inherited a load of worthless gew-gaws and clutter and had a job to do to sweep it away?

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1 Comment

  1. Monsieur B.

    Indeed we had some great designers during the XVIIIth century in France but they worked on smaller estates and were most of the time inspired by their discovery of the “English style”, either after a travel in the English countryside, or influenced by a friend, as Belanger with Thomas Blaikie at Bagatelle. The XIXth century also let us famous designers as Comte Paul de Choulot, Edouard André, the Bühler brothers, Adolphe Alphand in Paris …
    And as often in the art of landscape, the new ones were partly inspired by their predecessors!

    Monsieur B. from France

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