French gardeners such as Lenôtre were famed for their imposing geometric style showcased at Versailles. So when something unusual and whimsical was called for the French Royal court turned to a Scottish gardener, Blaikie.
When the Comte D’ Artois, brother of Louis VI, made a bet with Marie Antoinette about creating the Bagatelle gardens, he called in Blaikie to pull it off. The extraordinary Parc Monceau complete with grottos and ruins, was also designed by Blaikie for the Duc d’Orleans.
Josephine who considered herself a trendsetter commissioned Blaikie to design the gardens of Malmaison in the fashionable English style at a time when her husband Napoleon was at war with the British.
Over the centuries France and Scotland have often been allies against their common enemy; the English. Indeed, during the 100 years War, Joan of Arc was supported by Scottish guards in her victory over the English at Orleans. It would be Scottish spies employed as mapmakers for Henry VIII who would supply the French with vital intelligence for a thwarted invasion. When Mary Queen of Scots, who had been brought up at the French court, married the Dauphin of France, there were hopes that the two countries would be finally united. She brought the French language and customs to the Scottish court.
This series of lectures will examine the close relationship between these two countries based on mutual respect and cultural similarities
SYLVIA SAGONA is an internationally recognised specialist on 19th century French society. She retired from the French Department at The University of Melbourne to work on historical documentaries for French and Australian television and is currently researching a book on the invention of the restaurant in Paris in the 18th century.