Sacrificing the studied botanical garden of Louis XV, Marie-Antoinette put her architect Richard Mique and painter Hubert Robert in charge of creating a picturesque garden. At the time, English gardens were all the fashion, with their artificial succession of “natural” landscapes scenes. The Queen dreamed of a living nature that was not imprisoned in greenhouses or flowerbeds as in the French gardens.
Overlooking the lake, this charming eight-sided bandstand was built by Richard Mique in 1777. Outside, it is decorated with sculptures by Deschamps: a fruit frieze garland once painted with colours, pediments evoking the pleasures of hunting and gardening, window imposts symbolizing the four seasons. Inside, the circular living room is paved with a marble mosaic and its walls are adorned with fine ornaments.
Restored in 2012 thanks to the sponsorship of VINCI and the WORLD MONUMENTS FUND – Robert W. Wilson Challenge
These artificial landscapes, the Rock, Snail Mountain and the Grotto are natural and wild creations surrounded by pines, larches, fir trees and junipers reminding us of Switzerland and the precipices of Valais.
The Rock, located near the Belvedere, was very difficult to create. Its construction lasted from 1778 to 1782. A tank placed behind it makes it possible for the water to pour in torrents into the lake. The Grotto, whose entrance is difficult to spot,“was so dark that initially dazzled eyes needed a certain amount of time to see the objects” (Count of Hézecques). Sitting on a moss-covered bench the Queen could see who was coming through an opening in the rock. A narrow interior staircase allowed her to avoid unwelcome visitors.
This Temple of the Love, which the queen could see from her room in Petit Trianon, was erected by Richard Mique in 1778 in pure neo-classical style. Built entirely out of marble, this invaluable building is especially notable for the quality of the sculptures by Deschamps which adorn its Corinthian capitals, its friezes and the inside of its dome. This exceptional quality is explained by the fact that it was supposed to house a recognized masterpiece of French sculpture, Cupid cutting his bow from the Club of Hercules by Bouchardon whose original, now on display at the Louvre, was replaced by a replica by Mouchy, another great 18th century sculptor.