Art market Magazine May 2013

 
THE MAGAZINE 
 
TRENDS 
 
The link between court…
THE MAGAZINE

TRENDS

The link between court and garden
ccording to specialists in the subject, the first gardens were Egyptian. Designed for high dignitaries, or even for
gods, they arose from the desert at a time when man was becoming sedentary and sought to be close to cool oases. However, this should all be seen in its original context. This was a people who, in hostile lands like arid North Africa, succeeded in dominating

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nature in the face of all opposition. While the leafy verdure of a garden is perfectly familiar to us, just imagine for a second the effect it would have on the Egyptians of those times. Facilities of that kind required extraordinary wealth and power, and thus became effective propaganda tools. And just think: this centurieslong history between court and garden had only just begun! But while power was often the privilege of the

€32,138 Late 17th century French school, "Perspective du Palais-Royal, fontaines et jardin de Versailles", oil on canvas, 92 x 135 cm. Paris, Drouot, 12 December 2012. Piasa auction house.

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GAZETTE DROUOT INTERNATIONAL I N° 25


TRENDS

THE MAGAZINE

State, it could also be that of the mind. For example, in Athens, philosophers taught in gardens to evoke the link of subordination between man and the elements
that dominated him. And trees were sacred with both the Greeks and the Romans. All this explains why gardens gradually became places of spirituality as much as places of power. Sceptical? Then turn your gaze to China. In the 12th century, the Summer Garden of the Yuan Ming Yuan palace in Beijing welcomed a series of writers, painters, poets and monks, who all helped to bring garden design into being. The Chinese went even further than Westerners in considering that water, mountains, rocks and plants had a soul. This was the attitude that led landscape gardeners to glorify nature by creating grottos, ponds, waterfalls, islands and artificial lakes inhabited by swans, herons and fish. The garden then became a place synonymous with refinement and spiritual elevation. Not for nothing did the Persians call it "Paradise"... To be convinced, without going all the way to the Far East, you just need to wander around the gardens laid out at the Alhambra palace in Granada during the 13th century. And though for many centuries in Europe, gardens were the private preserve of religious communities cultivating their kitchen gardens in the secrecy of their monasteries, they took on a prime importance in all strata of society in countries like Japan, with tea and rock gardens.

€119,700 China, 20th century. Famille Rose porcelain baluster vase, with a Jiaqing stamp of doubtful authenticity under the base, h. 30 cm. Paris, 20 June 2012. Millon & Associés auction house.

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An eternal spring
Gardeners vegetated in this way for several centuries... It took a major movement to awake them. In this case, the Renaissance and its humanistic values had a dig at them! Now it was a question of addressing the senses as much as the mind. And as in painting, the discovery of perspective caused a major upheaval. Parks were laid out around box tree borders, and experiments were made with different levels to create visual breaks in the landscape. This was the time when nature was first staged to convey a sense of power – and when imagination and illusion were used to serve the great and the good of this world! The apogee of this subtle instrumentalisation came about in the reign of a young and ambitious king: Louis XIV. In reaction to the spreading Baroque movement, he imposed a completely new

N° 25 I GAZETTE DROUOT INTERNATIONAL

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