Leisure and Landscape: Marie Antoinette The Landscape Garden in France The Gardens of Versailles: An Interview Le Petit Trianon: Histoire et Description (French, Kyoto University Library) PBS Marie Antoinette: Petit Trianon and Le Petit Hameau (Both with filmed visuals)
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Marie-Antoinette’s English Inspired Garden and Rustic Faux Village
On the grounds of Versailles stands Marie-Antoinette’s English garden and Petit Hameau. This picturesque, thatched-roofed village, inspired by Hubert Robert’s paintings, was created by palace architect Richard Mique in 1783 – 1785.
"Everyone had heard of her private retreat at Trianon, and of the little hamlet she was having her architect construct there. It seemed a perverse extravagance, for the Queen to create a village for her own amusement while in many parts of France real peasants in real villages were in dire want. In her make-believe village stood eight small thatch-roofed cottages, their plaster walls cleverly painted with cracks to make them look weathered, their gardens full of vegetables and fruit trees. Nearby were barns, a poultry yard, and a mill. A farmer named Valy was brought in to live in the farmhouse and look after the livestock. Cows were pastured in a small field, and milked into porcelain tubs in an exquisite little dairy. The Queen had her own cows, named Brunette and Blanchette, and white goats and white lambs, rabbits and cooing pigeons and clucking hens. There was a note of pathos at the miniature hamlet, amid the abundant charm; it represented an almost childlike vision of a simpler, happier world. But the Queen’s critics saw nothing of this. To them the village was one more in a long list of frivolous purchases. They called it “Little Vienna,” and made fun of Antoinette indulging in her rustic pleasures."