History of Landscape Architecture
The gardens of 18th century France, under the Ancien Régime, were primarily concerned with the vista, its capacity to communicate power, and its perspectival relationship to Cartesian notions of geometry. This diptych diagrams the topography of court gardener Andre Le Nôtre’s landscape at Vaux-le-Vicomte in two ways: as built and as perceived. By manipulating the rise and fall of the land with militarized precision and by reversing the classical methodology of surveyors, Le Notre produced distortions in the viewer’s understanding of the ground plane and the placement of the horizon. This oscillation between idealized and literal construction is mapped analytically in the diptych, where reality is gauged against the privileged perspective of the Chateaux, and where, in part, the pleasure of the garden is one of uncovering novel deceptions.