Méréville: Pre-Revolutionary France's Greatest Landscape Garden with Dr. Gabriel Wick

Méréville: Pre-Revolutionary France's Greatest Landscape Garden with Dr. Gabriel Wick


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This seminar examines one of the most sublime designed landscapes ever to be built in Europe, the estate of Méréville. It examines the historical context of the project and the roles played by renowned figures such as the painter Hubert Robert, the architect François-Joseph Bélanger, and the sculptor Augustin Pajou. It considers what Méréville can tell us about pre-Revolutionary France, the then emergent "Atlantic World" and the hopes and contradictions this suddenly expanded world-view brought into play.

Turning to today, the seminar considers the on-going story of Méréville and the restoration campaign undertaken by its new owners, the Department of the Essonne. Does it question what it means to restore a designed "wilderness" that has been reclaimed by nature? But it also examines how the dark-side of this picturesque landscape, Laborde's role in the trafficking and enslavement of African captives, should be integrated into the contemporary experience of the gardens?

Led by landscape historian, author, and curator Dr. Gabriel Wick, this seminar will examine the history and context of the restoration project. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of pre-Revolutionary French society, the art of landscape gardening, and current debates surrounding historic garden restoration and interpretation.

Gabriel Wick is a lecturer in urban and architectural history at NYU-Paris. He received his doctorate in history from the University of London, and also holds a degree in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley, and garden conservation from the National Architecture School of Versailles (ENSA-V). He is the author of a number of books and articles on historic landscapes. He is also consulting on the restoration of the gardens of La Grange, home of the general Lafayette.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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