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Nature Made World: Guidebooks to the Gardens at Versailles

Elizabeth J. MacArthur

MacArthur, Elizabeth J., "Nature Made World: Guidebooks to the Gardens at Versailles", dans Cahiers du XVIIe siècle, 1991, vol. V, 1.

Extrait de l’article

Works of visual art are rarely viewed without the mediation of language. Versailles, surely the most famous seventeenth-century architectural space, was described in the newspapers of the period (the Mercure galant, the Gazette de France), in several guidebooks or descriptions of the chateau and gardens, and as a background for fictional plots such as La Fontaine’s Les Amours de Psyche et de Cupidon (1669) and Madeleine de Scudery’s Promenade de Versailles (1669). This essay aims to present three of the earliest guides, Felibien’s Description sommaire du Chateau de Versailles... (1674), Piganiol de la Force’s Nouvelle description des chasteaux et pares de Versailles... (1701), and Morellet’s Explication Historique de ce qu’il y a de plus remarquable dans la maison royale de Versailles (1681), as well as the descriptive section of La Promenade de Versailles. I will limit my analysis to the gardens, concerning myself with how these four texts mediate between the reader or visitor and the garden: what they consider to be their own function, and how they shape the visitor or reader’s impression of Versailles.

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