Château de Vaux le Vicomte, Maincy, France 🇫🇷
«While no doubt familiar with the palatial splendor of Louis XIV’s Versailles, what you may not know is that the inspiration, and indeed the architect, decorator and garden designer, were taken (rather literally) from Nicolas Fouquet’s masterpiece, the Château de Vaux le Vicomte.
One of the most magnificent homes in all of Europe, the 17th century Vaux le Vicomte has, since 1875, been under the stewardship of the Vogüé family.
Purchased in 1641, Vaux le Vicomte came to represent Nicolas Fouquet’s rise to power and elevated status as the king’s Royal Superintendent of Finances. And while his lavish lifestyle and the extravagant expenditures he authorized, along with the conniving orchestrations of his rival Jean-Baptiste Colbert, led to his legendary fall and lifelong incarceration, it is his visionary taste and devoted patronage of the arts that endures.
His first stroke of brilliance was to hire the gifted team of landscape designer André Le Nôtre, architect Louis Le Vau, and painter and decorator Charles Le Brun, the same team who would later create the shrine to the Sun King at Versailles. Below, a view of the gardens today with the border parterre recreated in 1923 by landscape architect Achille Duchêne.
As with many of the best designs, “The architecture of Vaux-le-Vicomte, mingling the traditional, the fashionable, and the novel, seemed to belong simultaneously to the past, the present, and the future.” The oval salon, above, for example, features such innovations as a high domed, beam free ceiling, as well as a forward looking link between château and grounds.
The highly decorative game room was painted by an associate of Le Brun in 1659. As Anatole France states in Le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, 1888, “But what Louis XIV could not take from Fouquet was the sense of taste the feeling for art, and the delicate profound instinct for beauty that made the Superintendent so dear to all the artists who worked for him.” And close to fifty movies have used the spectacular château and grounds as backdrop for their sets.»
Courtesy Stacey Bewkes and A Day at Château de Vaux le Vicomte