Hermione, Freedom’s Frigate, Redefining Past and Future In 1778, the Corderie Royale in Rochefort, France, undertook the 11-month construction of a 26 cannon light frigate measuring 210 feet from stern to bow. Part of a group of four (along with the Concorde, the Courageuse and the Fée), the Hermione was built according to plans by Chevillard Aîné and commanded by major general La Fayette who boarded the ship on March 21, 1780 to meet General Washington in Boston and give help to American insurgents. In 1997, the Hermione-La Fayette Association undertook the daunting project of a 17-year construction of a replica of the 18th century Concorde class frigate, Hermione, at the restored arsenal the Corderie Royale in Rochefort, France. American born and raised, married to a Frenchman passionate about frigates and naval engineering, the Hermione reconstruction project and ambitious plan to retrace the steps of General La Fayette by sailing to America was of great interest to us. My husband and I planned a trip to Rochefort in 2009 to visit the construction site. We were amazed by this courageous endeavor to rebuild a warship that existed more than 200 years previously in it’s identical form and structure. While my … Read More
Herculean, Pharaonic and other Garden Superlatives One of the Seven Wonders, for which the specific location has never been established, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have contained a large variety of trees, shrubs and vines planted in tiers on raised terraces in an extraordinary feat of engineering. While visiting the Remarkable Gardens (see other garden studies with this label) of the Château du Champ de Bataille, I drew a parallel with these mythical gardens, beginning with the symbolic notion that they are said to embody: The Seven Degrees of Creation from the Mineral, Vegetal, and Animal to Humanity, Conscience, Light and Spirit, in that order. Jacques Garcia, renowned decorator, acquired the château in 1992. Working with landscape architect Patrick Pottier, they carried out the herculean task of conceiving and planting more than 240 acres of formal gardens consisting of groves, French parterres, boxwood topiary, basins, terraces, steps and fountains complimented by temples, theaters and sculptures. Hidden at the end of the garden is the “pièce de résistance” (flourish); a genuine 18th century Indian palace, reconstructed stone by stone, complete with an artificial lake: the Palace of Dreams. From the Material to the Immaterial, visitors pass from the … Read More
A Woodworker’s Dream | Visiting the Saint Gabriel Flour Mill Contemplating current trends in gluten-free bread, flour-less cakes and slow food, it was thought provoking to step back to post-war France and learn about technology and engineering during the industrial revolution. This opportunity arose during a weekend visit to the town of Saint Gabriel de Brécy, Normandy. The Saint Gabriel Flour Mill, now inscribed into the Industrial Patrimony of the Calvados region, is a magnificent example of a once-working flour mill that is being carefully restored by its owners. Closed permanently in 1975, the mill was purchased in 2012 by Isabelle Laïlle and Benoît Lechevallier (carpenter/cabinet maker). Isabelle and Benoît have rallied local inhabitants, many of whose family members once worked at the mill, to revive the memory of this working environment and an association has been created for this purpose. The diverse professions of this group have enabled the successful restoration to impeccable working condition of a hydraulic turbine engine fabricated by Ruston & Hornsby (UK), of which only two remain in the world, regulated by a Watt Ball Regulator. It is interesting to read in Flour Milling, A Theoretical and Practical Handbook of Flour Manufacture by Peter Kozmin … Read More
A Garden Party at Brécy Castle Patrimony Day in France happens once a year and enables curious visitors to see and experience treasures of French patrimony that are not typically open to the public. This year, I had the pleasure of experiencing several special places dressed for the occasion under beautiful blue sky of mid-September all in one weekend. The first and foremost is Brécy Castle Gardens, which I had already photographed in 2012 with a large format film camera. This year, a private invitation was launched to commemorate the fifth year of the passing of Barbara Wirth. Gardener extraordinaire, she and her husband Didier orchestrated the restoration of the gardens of Brécy from their purchase of the château in 1992. We learn, in reading the marvelous and freshly published Florilegium of Brécy Garden by Béatrice Saalburg and Catherine Watters, that the key to the elegance of this garden is a striking harmony of “just enough” in Barbara’s selection of plants. To complement graphically dominant yew, hornbeam and boxwood topiary, of which an intricate parterre de broderie on the ground level sets the stage for the terraces, Barbara added a savvy selection of roses, clematis, hellebore, lily and iris. She … Read More
Yours Mine Le Nôtre’s exhibited in Passage de la Geôle, Versailles The Association of Antique and Gallery dealers of Versailles has invited me to exhibit my series Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s during the Versailles Autumn Festival 2013. Twenty-seven color and black and white photographs (silver gelatin prints and c-prints) are exhibited. Quartier des Antiquaires – Passage de la Geôle, 78000 Versailles from 10 October – 3 November, 2013. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30 am to 19:00 pm.
Exhibition for Artists in the Street, Versailles 2013 The Alumnae Association of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Versailles has invited me to exhibit twenty-five color and black and white photographs from the series entitled Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s during the Journée du Patrimoine in Versailles (Artistes dans la Rue), Place du Marché Notre Dame, France on September 14, 2013. Photographs will also be exhibited at the Carré à la Farine, Versailles, France from 10 – 14 September 2013.
Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s: An American Photographer Examines the Garden of Versailles As France celebrates the 400th anniversary of the birth of André Le Nôtre, the father of French gardens, France Revisited explores some of this 17th-century landscape gardener’s most famous gardens and parks. Here, in text and images, American photographer Elise Prudhomme, a longtime Paris resident whose work has been exhibited in the Tuileries Garden and will soon appear in an exhibition in Versailles, guides us along the garden paths of Versailles. by Gary Lee Kraut * * * Photographs and text by Elise Prudhomme André Le Nôtre designed the Garden of Versailles to display, reflect and serve as the backdrop for the pomp and glory and power of the reign of Louis XIV. As such the garden functioned as a direct extension of the palace itself. Piqued by Nicolas Fouquet’s audacious success with the Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte which he visited in 1661, Louis XIV enlisted the three men who had contributed to that success—the architect Louis Le Vau, the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun and the landscape gardener André Le Nôtre—to create the palace of all palaces: Versailles. read full article…
Celebrating Le Nôtre: An American Photographer Explores the Tuileries Garden France Revisited joins France’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the birth of André Le Nôtre, the father of French gardens, with seven stunning photos of Paris’s most historical garden, the Tuileries Garden, by American photographer Elise Prudhomme. Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s Photographs and text by Elise Prudhomme A walk through the Tuileries Garden is a return to the origin of French gardens. Considering its long heritage of transformations by queens, kings, landscape architects and gardeners, the Tuileries cannot be fully attributed to André Le Nôtre (1613-1700). It can nevertheless be viewed as the matrix of André Le Nôtre’s career. By matrix I mean that the Tuileries was his testing grounds and the precursor of his future projects, the womb or mold from which his future work originated and developed. Without the Tuileries there would be no Versailles. read full article…
Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s, exhibition texts about this photography series On the occasion of the four hundredth anniversary of the birth of André Le Nôtre (1613 – 1700), I have taken another look at his master work. Working with mineral and plant architecture, Le Nôtre created multifaceted gardens that are both majestic and playful. He surprises us with follies and fountains set in contrast to strictly symmetrical wooded masses; he plays on light and shadow in his whimsical and symmetrical groves, dotting parterres and main walkways with statues and yew cut in the most amazing ways. The Tuileries Garden, with its crowds of pressed tourists drawn by the dramatic perspective from the Louvre up the Champs-Elysées, leaves strollers the opportunity to discover smaller gardens within the garden. Sceaux Park, where André Le Nôtre played with the landscape using a double perspective : the first extending from the axis of the château, the second set on a perpendicular axis from the château, revealing a large waterfall extending through to the Basin of the Octagon. Versailles, the result of matured reflection in garden architecture, is a masterpiece in the art of topiary. Vaux-le-Vicomte Garden and Saint-Cloud Park are also included. Photographing these … Read More
Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s, exhibition at Studio Galerie B&B A recent body of photographic work entitled Yours, Mine, Le Nôtre’s is presented at Studio Galerie B&B, 6 bis rue des Récollets, 75010 Paris, France from 4 March – 17 March 2013. The exhibition includes photographs of the Tuileries Garden and Sceaux Park.
Photograph from Tuileries Garden series receives Juror Award of Merit My photograph entitled Pause, Tuileries Garden, Paris, France, 2011 (from the series Yours Mine Le Nôtre’s), has received Juror Award of Merit in the International Fine Art Photography Competition: Grand Prix de la Découverte. Taken from the Orangerie Museum, overlooking the Octagonal Basin, this image depicts a solitary sleeper in the late morning sun on a reclining green garden chair. Ten pigeons, siting in a row along the balustrade just behind him, are also taking in the sun. This moment is suspended in time, hence the title “Pause”.