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There is a lot of information available on gardens, historical gardens and gardening as a topic. While cleaning up a pile of papers stacked for future research, I came upon this article written in French from the monthly magazine “L’Amour de l’Art”, number 3, April 1938.

The article is about one of the few still surviving ENGLISH FOLLY GARDENS created in France not far from Paris in the town of Chambourcy, near the edge of the Marly Forest, on the site of the former village of Retz. This site’s acreage was once owned and developed by Francois Racine de Monville (1734-1797). It is called the Desert de Retz. The garden is a strange site with a pyramid and Chinese pavilion and some other interesting follies! Below is a short Youtube video giving us a glimpse of this wonderful garden.

Monsieur de Monville was a wealthy bon vivant, dancer, archer, harpist, horticulturist who decided to build an English Folly Garden in France! I recommend that you visit this exceptional website entirely dedicated to this garden, it has some superb photographs of the garden in the actual state.

The article posted below is from this French magazine. This article was the prime reason the French Government undertook a serious effort to declare this garden a national monument worthy of restoration and preservation. The article was written by the French Architect Jean-Charles Moreaux.

img183img184img185img186img197img188img189img198Who was Jean-Charles Moreaux?

Clipboard01Moreaux (1889-1956) was a towering figure in his own right with a number of accomplished engineering and architectural studies behind him. He had worked with the Parisian Modernist architects like Le Corbusier but in the late twenties he practically disavowed that type of architecture for a more classical Italianate form of Modernism. Eventually his very classical style became appreciated by the Parisian upper class for whom he designed houses with gardens often attached, but also highly decorative furniture vying with the best furniture Parisian society had seen at the 1925 World’s Fair that launched the Art Deco Period.

A horticulturist of re-known fame, he created several gardens, lesser ones known are in London and in Egypt! An interesting related fact is that he left his extensive library to the International Palladio Study Center in Vicenza, Italy – the cradle of anything “Palladio”.

(Note: The first major article by the Architect Gio Ponti in the newly established art magazine Domus was on Palladian Villas in the Veneto Region of Italy that, of course, includes the Palladian town of Vicenza. I actually wonder if Moreaux read or was acquainted with this article). Moreaux’s library contained an exceptionally rare French architectural treatise of 1599 by Mauclerc.

An interesting source on Architectural books can be found at this website.

It gives the following description of that book:

“Le premier livre d’architecture by Julien Mauclerc had hardly attracted the attention of historians of architecture before David Thompson pulled it out of oblivion in 1980 and pointed out its exceptional interest. Information is scarce on the Sieur du Ligneron-Mauclerc. According to the dedication (“Au Roy”) in the 1600 edition, he served Henri de Navarre, probably as a military architect during the 1570s. It was perhaps then that his taste for architecture and machines had its beginnings. In 1596 he said he was fifty-three, which would make 1542 or 1543 the year of his birth. Very proud of his complete title which appears several times in his treatise (his fiefs were located in the present-day department of Vendée, between Challans and La Roche-sur-Yon), he was, like many of his fellow noblemen, a personality of multiple talents. In Apremont he opened an earthenware factory (“bouteillage de terre blanche”) after obtaining a royal privilege in 1560. He was also a sufficiently well-informed collector to have been the first person to whom the Bouquet printanier was dedicated. It was published in 1600 by the apothecary and great collector from Poitiers, Paul Contant (later Sully took Mauclerc’s place in the dedication).
Nevertheless David Thompson was not aware of a copy of Le premier livre d’architecture dated 1599, which belonged to the architect Jean-Charles Moreux (1889-1956), and which was bequeathed to the Centro internazionale di studi di architettura Andrea Palladio at Vicenza. This publication without name of author or place is quite obviously the work of Jérôme Haultin, a Protestant printer set up in La Rochelle. He took the responsibility for producing the 1600 edition. The same woodcuts were used for the text and the same plates. The 1599 edition differs essentially from that of 1600 in the title page and the absence of dedication (“Au Roy”). Moreover the study alone of the ornamented capital letters, the border decorations and the flowerets would suffice to attribute the work to Haultin. In 1600 the title page was different; it was recomposed to bear the address of the printer and his mark of the “Religion chrestienne”. The copy of the CISA A. Palladio is the only one known to this day.
The 1599 issue probably falls within the province of a type of 16th century publishing called “édition à l’essai”, according to the very expression used by contemporaries, intended for a close circle of friends. These works were printed in small numbers, paid for by their authors, at the instigation of the printers themselves, who could at the same time give work to their presses without risk and could “sonder les réactions d’un marché éventuel au travers de lecteurs avertis, véritables consultants avant l’heure” (M. Simonin 2004, p. 735). These limited editions also allowed the printers to perfect the second editions which would come out in many copies.
Jérôme Haultin’s two editions are certainly surprising. If it was quite logical that Mauclerc, a Protestant nobleman, would turn to the active member of an eminent dynasty of printers located in the capital of the Protestants, it is more surprising that Jérôme Haultin would accept to publish a book on architecture. Indeed, the Haultin dynasty- Pierre I left Lyon to set up in La Rochelle in 1571- is basically know for publishing religious works (Bibles, etc…) and political work favorable to the Reform. The publication of a treatise on architecture seems incongruous even if the Haultins were undeniably competent in certain artistic domains like musical literature, since Pierre I had been a pioneer in that area. In addition the illustrations in their works are generally poor. Here the plates on the orders were done by René Boyvin, one of the great engravers of the Renaissance, and marked with his monogram RB. The frontispiece dated 1596 (and not 1576 as some have thought), less fine in technique, is attributed to an anonymous engraver (IB). Boyvin, about whose life we know little, accomplished a large series a few years before his death, situated between 1580 and 1598. The Sieur du Ligneron Mauclerc must have come into contact with the artist, who had perhaps found refuge in La Rochelle, not far from his native Anjou; Boyvin (born in Angers towards 1525) had been imprisoned in 1569 after having joined the Huguenot movement. Protestant sympathies probably brought the three protagonists closer together.
The bad condition of the CISA copy (title page ripped and repaired, leaves mutilated [2-3], leaves recut, whimsical setting up of the plates, absence of sonnets by M. Prévost and of two engravings of composite capitals n° IV and VII, the later insertion of a plate representing the naval battle opposing the English and Dutch fleets against the French fleet off the southern Portuguese and African coasts on June 28, 1693…) gives only an imperfect idea of this trial edition. Nevertheless it is a perfect illustration of one stage of the editorial process that Michel Simonin brilliantly brought to light concerning the great French Renaissance authors. Paul Contant, who dedicated his Bouquet printanier to Mauclerc in 1600, held a copy of it. For in his poem he repeated almost word for word certain passages of the title page of the Poitiers nobleman’s treatise.
For the study of the treatise on architecture, we refer to Yves Pauwels’ presentation of the 1600 edition.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2008

Critical bibliography

L. Châtenay, La vie intellectuelle en Aunis et Saintonge de 1540 à 1610, La Rochelle, Éditions du Quartier Latin, 1959.L. Desgraves, L’imprimerie à La Rochelle, Les Haultin (1571-1623), Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 34-2, Geneva, Droz, 1960.G. M. Fara & D. Tovo (ed.), I libri dell’architetto Jean-Charles Moreux al Cenro internazionale di studi di architettura Andrea Pallaldio, Florence, Olschki, 2008, pp. 70-72.J. Levron, René Boyvin, graveur angevin du XVIe siècle, Angers, Petit, 1941.M. Marrache-Gouraud, “Cabinets et curieux du Poitou, aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles”, P. Martin & D. Moncond’huy (ed.), Curiosité et cabinets de curiosités, Neuilly, Atlande, 2004, pp. 93-108.M. Marrache-Gouraud & P. Martin, Le Jardin, et Cabinet poétique, Introduction and notes, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Collection Textes rares, 2004.Y. Pauwels, “Hans Blum et les Français, 1550-1650”, Scholion. Meitteilungsblatt der Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, 6, 2010, pp. 77-88.M. Simonin, “Poétiques des éditions ‘à l’essai’ au XVIe siècle”, L’encre et la lumière, Quarante-sept articles (1976-2000), Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 391, Geneva, Droz, 2004, pp. 727-745.D. Thomson, “Architecture et humanisme au XVIe siècle. Le Premier Livre d’Architecture de Julien Mauclerc”, Bulletin monumental, 158, 1980, pp. 7-40.D. Thomson, “Le Premier Livre d’Architecture de Mauclerc, à La Rochelle, chez Jérôme Haultin en 1600″, S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire Active, 2004, p. 463.” (pour nos lecteurs francais ici le fiche en francais du CISA.)For our French readers, below is the original pdf file from the Centro internazionale di studi di architettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza, Italy: a21_09_guillaume

A contemporary monograph on the life and work of Moreaux was written by Susan Day. It is the prime source today of Moreaux: Jean-Charles Moreaux Architecte-Décorateur-Paysagiste, Paris, 1999,Editions Norma. (www.editions-norma.com)

This link will take you to a very fine French architectural site where we find a number of photographs of some of the work by Moreaux, as well as, a number of furniture drawings done by him. The portait of Moreaux, as well as, the entree garden pictured in this post are from this site

The major nternational auction houses make a market in his furniture and some of it makes its way onto 1stdibbs as well. As usual caveat emptor.

I have been able to find out little about Raymond Lecuyer, the photographer for the article, as a book author, his best known title is most likely to be the History of Photography book described in French below and the only one available in the French language for more than 20 years. The book came with a set of stereoview type glasses. (1945)


‎”un fort volume, demi-percaline bordeaux Editeur in-folio (382 x 289 mm), dos lisse avec titre doré, papier marbré aux plats, texte sur 2 colonnes, papier couché. 19 planches photos hors texte couleurs dont 3 montées sur papier fort, 55 planches photo hors texte monochromes & très nombreuses photos in texte dont plusieurs en couleurs, 8-455 pages, dont 10 de bibliographie & 16 dindex, 1945 Paris Baschet et Cie Editeur,‎

‎Le plus recherché et le plus Rare des grands albums de “lIllustration”, Exemplaire bien complet de sa paire de lorgnons bicolores (sous pochette sur le contre-plat) permettant d’avoir la sensation du relief en examinant les anaglyphes de l’ouvrage . Pagination : IV pages + 452 pages + 3 pages non chiffrées. Très nombreuses illustrations en noir et en couleurs, dans le texte et hors-texte. Table des chapitres : Les antécédents de la photographie / L’aventure de la découverte ( 1814 – 1839 ) / L’âge du daguerréotype et du calotype ( 1839 – 1857 ) / L’ère du collodion ( 1855 – 1880 ) / L’avènement du gélatino-bromure ( 1878 ) et de l’anastigmat ( 1890 ) / La vogue de la photographie artistique / L’image animée ( 1851 – 1895 ) / La technique moderne ( 1918 – 1939 ) / Conquête de la couleur ( 1829 – 1943 ) / Création des procédés photomécaniques ( 1813 – 1939 ) / A la recherche du relief ( 1850 – 1943 ) / La photogrammétrie et la photographie aérienne ( 1851 – 1945 ) / L’exploration de l’infiniment petit et de l’invisible / La photographie au service des beaux-arts et des belles-lettres / La photographie au service des sciences / La téléphotographie et le belinogramme…” (from a book description offered by Librairie Guimard/ Nantes)

Last but not least: A google images search by typing in Desert de Retz will overwhelm the reader with some superb images.

Clicking on this link will bring you to a very nice serious garden site, well worth visiting for those interested in historical horticultural aspects.