FRENCH BAROQUE FAIENCE
And André le Nôtre's Gardens
In general, it is only recently that seventeenth-century baroque faience made for the French royal court has been fully appreciated. Because pottery and the art of the gar- den are two such distinct fields, the importance of faience in the garden designs of André Le Nôtre (1613–1700), France’s most celebrated seventeenth-century landscape architect, had previously been completely overlooked.
This article aims not only to demonstrate how Le Nôtre’s artistic vision synthesized these two disparate fields, but also to identify where faience garden objects were made and their factory charac- teristics, and to reveal how the study of graphic sources and archives has allowed us to understand their use and purpose. The colorful and easily portable containers for exotic plants and trees, as decorative elements in an all-encompassing design, were a significant aspect of the fashion for jardins à la française and the use of faience garden urns, which spread to other European royal courts.
This essay will also provide new insight into the sumptuous French baroque faience produced for buffet dining en plein air ("in open air") during this period, when magnif- icent banquets were held outdoors in Le Nôtre’s gardens.