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The Water Parterres

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André Le Nôtre’s work

These two large rectangular pools reflect the sunlight and light up the façade of the Hall of Mirrors. Le Nôtre regarded light as an element of the decor, in the same way as the greenery; their composition balances the masses of shadow and of sunlight.

The two Water Parterres appear to be a prolongation of the façade of the Château. Modified several times, the two ornamental pools received their definitive form only in 1685. The sculptures were designed and directed by Charles Le Brun: each pool is decorated with four reclining statues symbolising the rivers of France: the Loire and the Loiret, the Rhône and the Saône, the Seine and the Marne, the Garonne and the Dordogne; to which are added four nymphs and four groups of children. From 1687 to 1694, the Keller brothers, ironmasters, cast in bronze the models supplied by the sculptors, from Tuby to Coysevox, at the Arsenal of Paris.

The Water Parterres cannot be separated from the two fountains, known as the Animal Combats, completed in 1687, which flanked the large flight of steps leading down to the Latona Fountain. Six allegorical statues formed the decor: Air, Evening, Noon and Daybreak, Spring and Water. They were part of the “great commission” of marble statues made by Colbert in 1674.

 

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