Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles

Marie Antoinette s Last Garden

Marie Antoinette s Last Garden at Versailles

I recommend Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles by Christain Duvernois, with photographs by François Halard. I own, thanks to a gift certificate that was burning a hole in my pocket, a copy of the French version, more soberly titled Trianon: le domaine privé de Marie-Antoinette (“Trianon, the private domain of Marie-Antoinette.) I guess “last garden” sounded more melodramatic and likely to sell copy.

Here is the publisher’s presentation:

Marie-Antoinette has been idolized as the height of eighteenth-century French style and vilified as the spark that ignited the French Revolution. This book departs from such traditional interpretations of the infamous queen’s reign and chooses to reflect on the humanistic aspects of her private realm.


To escape the formalities and royal obligations of Louis XVI’s court, Marie-Antoinette created a private realm of pleasure for herself at the Petit Trianon and Hameau, where she planted the first Anglo-Chinese garden; created a trysting grotto; a working farm; and revolutionized architecture and gardening trends for the century to come.

Marie-Antoinette’s entire private domain and its story are told in beautiful photographic detail by François Halard for the first time since its recent restoration and accompanied by well-researched texts by garden expert Christian Duvernois.

I find the style of the text a bit pedestrian for the subject. But so much is informative and the photographs… well, they are the true reason why this is a great gift idea for any 18th century lover. Simply beautiful. I couldn’t reproduce them here for obvious copyright reasons, but will try to give you a taste of the contents.

Versailles Petit Trianon Belvedere

Versailles Petit Trianon Belvedere

First here is the little Belvédère. You can admire the inside, with its paneling and beautiful marble flooring, on the book cover.

Versailles Hameau Mill Moulin

Then a view of the famous Queen’s Hamlet. It reflects the desire, inspired by Rousseau’s works, to return to natural style after the runaway ornamentation of the rococo. The taste for faux pastoral that was so fashionable in the late 18th century, and so enthusiastically embraced by Marie-Antoinette, is in full display here.

Then my favorite place at Trianon: the jewel-like, blue, white and gold Théâtre de la Reine. Even the ceilings are exquisitely detailed.

There the Queen liked to set up plays, in particular Beaumarchais’s Les Noces de Figaro, in spite of the fact that it had been banned by the royal censors because it was deemed subversive…

You can almost hear her light footstep on the stage, imagine her, playing the part of the maid Rosine…

Versailles Trianon Theatre de la Reine ceiling


Photograph of the Belvédère by Sheynhertz-Unbayg.

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12 Comments to “Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles”

  1. Catherine Delors says:

    Thanks so much, Penny! I hope your friend enjoys this book.

  2. Penny says:

    I just sent this link to my freind who teaches lanscaping. actually I told him to go through the whole blog to see if there were any other links that might interest him. thank you again.

  3. Penny Klein says:

    How beautiful these are. I have put both of them in my dining room. don’t worry, i still have space for more artwork.

  4. judith says:

    What a delight to find your beautiful blog! I’ve just added your book, as well as this one to my list for Santa .. .
    I shall look forward to returning –
    Judith de SFe

  5. Sue says:

    I had considered buying this book so it’s very nice to see what you think about it. I may just have to add the book to my library.

  6. Beth F says:

    Thanks for posting about this. Sounds absolutely wonderful. Can’t wait to track it down and see the photos.

  7. Cinderella says:

    I featured this book on my main site a few weeks ago, in part because I loved the cover. After reading your review, I’m even more tempted to buy the book, even though the last thing I need is another book!

  8. Judith says:

    What an exquisite post! I am putting that book on my wish list to Santa right now! Thank you for sharing!
    Judith~

  9. Catherine Delors says:

    Certainly, Felio, and some of the pictures are even in between: barely a touch of color. And happy (belated) birthday!

  10. Felio Vasa says:

    Fabulous that you posted this ~ it’s a real sweet & beautiful book isn’t it! I just received mine a few days ago as a belated birthday gift. (Yeah!!!)
    I like that they used some black & white photos too. Also felt that this book captured the simplicity that Marie Antoinette was trying to achieved.

  11. Catherine Delors says:

    You are welcome, Lauren! I wish I could have reproduced the photos from the book itself, which are still better…

  12. Lauren says:

    Oh, so wonderful! Thank you for that gorgeous review Catherine! Love the antique roses at the end, roses are my beloved flower and I feel so close to Marie Antoinette in that regard.

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