André Le Nôtre (1613-1700)


André Le Nôtre is most well-known as a garden designer for the French king, Louis  XIV. In 1657, he was appointed Contrôleur Général des Batiments du Roi (Controller-General of the Royal Buildings). In the early 1660s, Charles II asked Le Nôtre to come to England to assist with the design of Greenwich Park.

Much of the transformation of Greenwich Park during the 1660s was influenced by André Le Nôtre’s controlled and logical approach to landscape planning. This saw the park transformed from a medieval heathland and hunting park into a formal, diamond-shaped network of avenues of trees, a series of grass terraces and a parterre (a formal garden of symmetrical patterns) imposed on the existing features of the park’s landscape.


Le Nôtre’s plan for Greenwich Park, 1660s 


The majority of Le Nôtre’s drawings, including his plan for Greenwich, take the form of basic drafts or sketches. The image above appears to be a working sketch in his own hand and dated by him, entitled ‘The Plan of the House of Grenwich for the Queen of England’. The original ink and sepia wash, 38cm x 29cm design for ‘Grenuche’, was much annotated by Le Nôtre’s hand, with a note that it was to be dispatched and returned to Le Nôtre for further recommendations while the work was already underway. André Le Nôtre’s influence on Greenwich Park can be compared to other French formal gardens of the period, including the gardens at Versailles and Fontainebleau.