Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Grotto at Trianon

The eighteenth century saw the popularity of gardens that resembled nature as closely as possible. To achieve the effect of rusticity, artificial waterfalls and grottoes were constructed. As has been mentioned before, Marie-Antoinette had her own English-style garden, designed with the help of Mique and Hubert Robert, where she enjoyed the outdoors with her family and friends. The gardens also served as a setting for visits of state, although the Queen's gardens were not nearly as elaborate as those of many other nobles. Near the Belvedere was a grotto, also designed by Mique. The grotto, more than any place else, was a spot where the Queen would go for solitude. As Maxime de la Rocheterie describes:
Not far from the Belvedere, and half hidden in a narrow ravine shaded by thick masses of trees, was a grotto which was only reached after a thousand turnings by a sombre stair cut in the rock. The rivulet which traversed it exhaled a delicious freshness; the light penetrated but dimly through a crack in the roof; a bushy growth concealed it from indiscreet eyes; the moss which carpeted the walls and ceiling prevented the noises of the outer world from entering. It was a place for retirement and rest until the day when the queen was to hear the first murmurs of October 5.
As Madame Campan relates:
On the evening of the 5th of October, the King was shooting at Meudon, and the Queen was alone in her gardens at Trianon, which she then beheld for the last time in her life. She was sitting in her grotto absorbed in painful reflection, when she received a note from the Comte de Saint-Priest, entreating her to return to Versailles.
We hope that in those quiet moments of repose she found the strength to face the storm.

More photos of the grotto, HERE. Share

1 comment:

Julygirl said...

Enchanting!! LIkeout of a fairy tale. It must have provided a most necessary retreat from the exhausting life of the French Court.