The Chinese scholar's garden in France: Moulin Joli in Claude-Henri Watelet's Essai sur les jardins
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Moulin Joli was a garden composed from 1754 to 1772 by Claude-Henri Watelet on three islands and the banks of the Seine northwest of Paris. Designed to facilitate a more intimate relationship with nature in order to stir the emotions and the mind, this important connection formed a theoretical basis for a new garden style, the picturesque, different from the French formal style of the preceding century. In 1774, Watelet published Essai sur les jardins in which he discusses his philosophy about gardens and describes Moulin Joli. Included is a chapter on "The Chinese Garden," a description of a Scholar's garden. However, the style of Moulin Joli was not created based on chinoiserie, the use of Chinese motifs and techniques to create merely pleasing visual effects. Its creation was based on Chinese ideas filtered through Watelet's lens. Therefore, this thesis will investigate Watlelet's description of Moulin Joli as a cultural landscape and interpret it to decipher how cultural change brought on by two circumstances within France contributed to Watelet's development of the picturesque garden. One was the introduction of Chinese philosophy, theory and art, and the other was the economic, political, and financial problems in France, which made many within the educated classes open to these ideas. Poetry and literature interjected a cultural vision in both Moulin Joli and the Scholar's garden. Moulin Joli conveyed Enlightenment ideas, the Scholar's garden ideas about Chinese tradition and history. My work suggests that in many ways both gardens are similar but the French and Chinese had different cultural purposes for creating gardens.
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