Pièce 14 - Description par John Evelyn des châteaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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Description par John Evelyn des châteaux de Saint-Germain-en-Laye


  • 27 février 1644 (Production)

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Écrivain, paysagiste et mémorialiste anglais.

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« [p. 52] Accompanied with some English gentlemen, we took horse to see St. Germain-en-Laye, a stately country-house of the King, some five leagues from Paris. […] [p. 54] The first building of this palace is of Charles V., called the Sage ; but Francis I. (that true virtuoso) made it complete ; speaking as to the style of magnificence then in fashion, which was with too great a mixture of the Gothic, as may be seen in what there is remaining of his in the old Castle, an irregular piece as built on the old foundation, and having a moat about it. It has yet some spacious and handsome rooms of state, and a chapel neatly painted. The new Castle is at some distance, divided from this by a court, of a lower, but more modem design, built by Henry IV. To this belong six terraces, built of brick and stone, descending in cascades towards the river, cut out of the natural hill, having under them goodly vaulted galleries ; of these, four have subterranean grots and rocks, where are represented several objects in the manner of scenes and other motions, by force of water, shown by the light of torches only ; amongst these, is Orpheus with his music, and the animals, which dance after his harp ; in the second, is the King and Dolphin ; in the third, is Neptune sounding his trumpet, his chariot drawn by sea-horses ; in the fourth, the story of Perseus and Andromeda ; mills ; hermitages ; men fishing ; birds chirping ; and many other devices. There is also a dry grot to refresh in ; all having a fine prospect towards the [p. 55] river, and the goodly country about it, especially the forest. At the bottom, is a parterre ; the upper terrace near half a mile in length, with double declivities, arched and balustered with stone, of vast and royal cost.
In the pavilion of the new Castle are many fair rooms, well painted, and leading into a very noble garden and park, where is a pall-mall, in the midst of which, on one of the sides, is a chapel, with stone cupola, though small, yet of a handsome order of architecture. Out of the park you go into the forest, which being very large, is stored with deer, wild boars, wolves, and other wild game. The Tennis Court, and Cavallerizzo, for the menaged horses, axe also observable. »

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John Evelyn, Diary and correspondence of John Evelyn, éd. John Forster, Londres, Henry Colburn, 1850-1852, t. I, p. 52-55

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