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THE DESERT DE RETZ: SOURCES AND RESOURCES


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INTRODUCTION

Below is a bibliography of additional information about landscape architecture, folly gardens, and eighteenth-century France. The sources were selected to provide background information to the life and times of Monsieur de Monville and the Desert de Retz.

The printed materials may be consulted in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the Archives of Seine-et-Oise in Versailles. The articles from Le Monde may be ordered online.

Also included are links to some longer articles on the Internet of particular interest.

Books in print may be ordered from the Shop page of this website.

To purchase out-of-print books, consult these excellent used-book dealers on the Internet: Alibris, Bibliofind, BookFinder.com, or Advanced Book Exchange.

For your convenience, the links on this page will open in a separate browser window.
Materials are in English US/UK flag except where noted.
Les ressources en français sont indiquées par French flag
The symbol New.gif represents a new entry in this list, not necessarily a new publication.
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  • Billecocq, Jean Baptiste Louis Joseph, Souvenirs de J.-B Billecocq, Paris, Société des études Robespierristes, 1981. French flag

  • Bonnefoy, Yves, "Le Désert de Retz et l'Expérience du Lieu," in "Connaissance des Arts" No. 494, April 1993, pages 68-81. One of France's finest contemporary poets examines the Désert de Retz from an entirely new perspective in this thoughtful essay. Highly recommnded. Illustrations include fine color photographs by Alfred Wolf. French flag

  • Bowe, Patrick, Gardens in Central Europe, Wappingers' Falls NY, Antique Collectors Club, 1992. History of garden design with details of climate, flora, garden architects and patrons for Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Rumania.

  • Broquet, Patrick; Malnic, Evelyne, Folies de jardin : art et architecture des fabriques de jardin du XVIIIè siècle à nos jours, Paris Les Edition du Chêne, 1996. French flag

  • Burkle, William Steve The Broken Column and its Deeper Meaning, in Pietre-Stones, Review of Freemasonry. The author erroneously places Monsieur de Monville's Column House in China, but aside from that the article is interesting from a Masonic point of view.

  • Burnell, Carol, Divided Affections: The Extraordinary Life of Maria Cosway: Celebrity Artist and Thomas Jefferson's Impossible Love, Column House, Switzerland, 2007. "Maria Cosway’s life is not only extraordinary because of her relationship with the American ambassador. She was a celebrity artist, an exceptional musician, a Regency hostess who entertained the Prince of Wales, later an intimate of the Bonapartes, and finally a successful founder of schools."

  • Césari, Dominique, Les jardins des Lumières en Ile-de-France, Paris, Parigramme, 2005. Le guide évoque les parcs avec fabriques dont certains sont réputés et figurant toujours en bonne place parmi les ouvrages consacrés à l’art des jardins. Dominique Césari qui se passionne depuis une dizaine d’années pour les jardins philosophiques d’Europe. French flag

  • Chaillet, Constance, "Heftler et Choppin de Janvry : Guerre du Golf dans le Désert de Retz," in "Le Figaro Madame," October 6, 1990. "Jean-Marc Heftler et Olivier Choppin de Janvry restaurent le Désert de Retz depuis 1988 et l’enjolivent...Ils cultivaient un jardin à la française et les bulldozers sont arrivés. Depuis, ils luttent pour que ce joyau du XVIIIe siècle ne soit pas labouré par les caddies des golfeurs." French flag

  • Chomarat-Ruiz, Catherine, Lecture critique du livre de Julien Cendres et Chloé Radiguet, in "Projets de paysage," January 1, 2010. Critical reading of Julien Cendres and Chloé Radiguet's book about the Desert de Retz. French flag

  • Choppin de Janvry, Olivier, Le Désert de Retz : Réponses à 101 questions sur le Désert de Retz, Croissy-sur-Seine, Société Civile du Désert de Retz, 1998. Although currently out of print, a copy of this work is available for consultation in the collection of the Institut National d'HIstoire de l'Art (INHA) at the Bibliotheque Nationale in the Archives Pierre Francastel, Boite 47. French flag

  • Choppin de Janvry, Olivier, "Le Désert de Retz," in "Le Vieux Marly," Tome III, No. 3, 1968-1969. French flag

  • Cnattingius, Lars & Nanna, Ruiner. Historia, öden och vård, Carlsson Bokförlag, 2007. Men vad är egentligen en ruin? Hur blir den till? Vad skiljer en ruin från en övergiven byggnad? Hur har man sett på ruiner genom tiderna? Varför finns det konstgjorda ruiner? Detta och mycket mer tar Lars och Nanna Cnattingius upp i Ruiner. Historia, öden och vård. Swedish flag

  • Collins, Sue, Historical Evidence and Interpretation: The French Revolution: A Resource Guide. Collins, Liaison Librarian for History at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, has created a richly documented guide to materials relating to the French Revolution, featuring many online resources. Categories include: documents, internet guides, maps, videos and pictorial resources. This is an invaluable tool for anyone researching the French Revolution.

  • Condello, Annette, Gastronomic follies: The spatiality of excessive hors d'oeuvres from the Desert de Retz to Le Patissier Pittoresque. Title of a paper delivered at the first conference of the Society for Quantification in Gastronomy in Bordeaux on May 27, 2006. The paper analyzes the spatiality of architectural excess in French picturesque follies: the Monsieur de Monville's ‘Broken Column’ house (1781) and Antonin Careme’s small culinary constructions in Le Patissier Pittoresque (1842).

  • Connolly, Cyril, and Zerbe, Jerome, Les Pavillons: French Pavillions of the Eighteenth Century, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1962. Rather than a book about gardens, this book is devoted to individual buildings. Connolly's clear, articulate prose and Zerbe's magnificent monochromatic photographs make this book a precious resource. One chapter on the Désert de Retz.

  • Corborand, François, Inventaire du Désert de Retz, manuscript, 1-15 Nivôse, An II [December 21, 1793-January 4, 1794]. This inventory lists everthing found at the Désert de Retz when it was consfiscated by the Revolutionary government.

  • Créateurs de Jardins et de Paysages en France de la Renaissance au XXI Siècle, Paris, Actes Sud, 2002. Tome I, "De la Renaissance au Début du XIX Siècle," contains an illustrated article in French about the Desert de Retz by Julien Cendres on pages 166-168.

  • Dach, Michel, Le Désert de Retz à la Lumière d'un Angle Particulier. L'auteur, numérologiste, partage sa recherche sur le Désert de Retz et répond à la question, "Comment le numéro 108, celui de la résurrection en symbolique numéraire, pouvait-il être présent dans le Désert de Retz?" Cet ouvrage est disponible chez l'auteur au 11, rue de Naples, 78150 Rocquencourt. Orné de nombreuses illustrations. French flag

  • Darnton, Robert, An Early Information Society: News and Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris. Annual address of the president of the American Historical Association, delivered at Chicago, January 5, 2000.

    This text contains the speech, along with illustrations, a map of Paris that includes cafés where police gathered information about political activities, police reports from those cafés, illustrations from the era and lyrics of songs that conveyed political news along with their English translations.

  • Darnton, Robert, Paris: The Early Internet, in New York Review of Books, June 29, 2000. Darnton, author of The Forbidden Bestsellers of Prerevolutionary France (Norton, 1995), answers the question: "How did you find out what the news was in Paris around 1750?"

  • De Roux, Emmanuel, "Traversée du Désert," in "Le Monde," December 11, 1997. French flag

  • De Roux, Emmanuel, "Désert de Retz: Vers la paix des braves," in "Le Monde," April 22, 1992. French flag

  • De Roux, Emmanuel, "Architectures Utopiques dans une Montagne de Verdure: Dans le Désert de Retz, les Illusions Retrouvées," in "Le Monde," June 1, 1989. French flag

  • Dietz, Paula, "The Désert de Retz, Near Paris," in "Antiques," March 1989.

  • Elliott, Grace Dalrymple, Journal de Ma Vie Durant la Révolution Française, Paris, Les Editions de Paris, 2001. Preface by Eric Rohmer. Available from Amazon.fr.French flag

  • Ferrier, Jean-Louis, "Le Desert de Retz, un jardin extraordinaire," in "Le Point," Number 991, September 14-20, 1991, pages 97-100. French flag

  • Figuier, Louis, Les Merveilles de la science ou Description populaire des inventions modernes, Paris, Furne, Jouvet & Cie., 1870. In chapters I-XIII, Figuier provides a complete history and description of the aerial telegraph invented by Claude Chappe, as well as a description of Dom Gauthey's acoustic telegraph. Illustrations. Recommended. French flag

  • Gill Galfetti, Gustau, My House, My Paradise, Barcelona, Editorial Gill, 2001.
    "A collection of houses in which the 'residents-cum-creators' have devoted all their ingenuity, energy and determination to constructing what they perceive to be the ideal domestic universe." In addition to a chapter on the Désert de Retz, the book contains chapters on a diverse collection of twenty-three other houses including Ludwig II's Liderhof, the Facteur Cheval's Palais Idéal, William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon, Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village, Simeon Rodia's Watts Towers and Raymond Isidore's Maison de Picassiete. Review with eight illustrations.

  • Harris, John, Echoing Voices: More Memories of a Country House Snooper, London, John Murray, 2002. Available from Amazon.co.uk.
    In this this second volume of the autobiography of John Harris, a writer on architecture, an archivist and scholar, the self-confessed "country house snooper" continues his "intensely romantic, poignant, angry, frequently hilarious illustrated memoirs" of visits to deserted country houses around the world.

    One chapter entitled "Privé--Défense d'Entrer" is an eye-witness account of Harris's discovery of the Désert de Retz in 1952 and contains his descriptions of Monsieur de Monville's Column House as well as the interior of the now-destroyed Chinese House. Now, through special permission of the publisher, you may read this chapter in its entirety. This material is under copyright; copying this material is an infringement of applicable laws. Do not copy!

    pdf.gif A PDF version of "Privé--Défense d'Entrer," including a photograph of the Chinese House, is available upon request from the Webmaster.

  • Headley, Gwyn and Meulenkamp, Wim, Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings, London, Aurum Press, 1999.

  • Headley, Gwyn and Meulenkamp, Wim, Follies - A Guide to Rogue Architecture, London, Jonathan Cape, 1990.

  • Henri-Deligny, "Lewis Disney-Ffytch et la maison du Désert de Retz" in Revue de l'Histoire de Versailles et de Seine-et-Oise, Avril-Juin 1932, Pages 71-95. This important essay in French is complemented by extracts of Corborand's inventory of the Column House of the Désert de Retz. French flag

  • Jia Ning, "Representation of the Other in Desert de Retz as Reflections of French Enlightenment Thought", in Intercultural Communication Studies XXI: 3 (2012). This paper discusses the representation of other in both historical and geographical dimensions in a representative French picturesque garden Desert de Retz. Ms. Jia Ning (Ph.D.) is senior lecturer at the School of English and International Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

  • Jouve, Daniel; Jouve, Alice; Grossman, Alvin, Paris: Birthplace of the U.S.A., Paris, Gründ, 2006. This fascinating book documents the Paris of the 1780's and 1790's and focuses on numerous Americans who lived in Paris before and during the French Revolution, as well as some French friends of America. Each of the twenty-two chapters is oriented towards particular building in Paris that holds historic significance for Americans.

    The cast of characters includes four American presidents who lived in Paris: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, who rented a house in the Auteuil neighborhood that in the 20th century became the executive office of the energy giant Total, James Monroe, and John Quincy Adams. The authors take you to the residences of other American patriots who lived in Paris, including John Paul Jones, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin, all of whom were honored as much in France as in America. Paine was so popular in France that he was elected to the National Assembly even though he couldn't speak French! However, like Monsieur de Monville, Paine was imprisoned and condemned to be guillotined durng the Terror and, like Monville, escaped his fate after Robespierre's death in 1794. Available from the authors at 4, avenue de Breteuil, 75007 Paris, France.

  • Kenyon, Ronald W.,"Retz to re-open?" in Historic Gardens, Issue 21, May 2009. "The Desert de Retz, an important late 18th-century landscape garden about 20km west of Paris, may finally re-open after years of closure."

  • Kenyon, Ronald W.,"Was Monsieur de Monville a Freemason? Monsieur de Monville était-il franc-maçon?," in La Gazette du Desert de Retz, No. 3, June 2011, pages 2-4. This article, published in both English and French versions, attempts to answer the question of whether Monsieur de Monville belonged to one of the many masonic lodges prevalent in late 18th century France and concludes that it is possible if not likely for him to have been a member of a secretive brotherhood whose members were known as Chevaliers du Noble Jeu de l’Arc [the Knights of Noble Archery ], and whose unifying theme was perpetuating the ancient practice of archery.

  • Kenyon, Ronald W., Monville: Forgotten Luminary of the French Enlightenment, CreateSpace, 2013. The author has conducted extensive research to paint a portrait of Monsieur de Monville and place him in the context of the political, social and artistic movements at the end of the 18th century

  • Ketcham, Diana, "Jefferson's Paris", in American Heritage Magazine, April 1995, Volume 46, Issue 2. "The ambassador from an infant republic spent five enchanted years in the French capital at a time when monarchy was giving way to revolution. Walking the city streets today, you can still feel the extravagant spirit of the city and the era he knew."

  • Ketcham, Diana,"Amid the Follies, Jefferson Dallied," in "New York Times," March 16, 1995

  • Kreis, Steven, "Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History: Abelard to Nietzsche." Professor Steven Kreis has posted the texts of his well-writen and informative lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. Each lecture is between five and ten pages in length. Visitors to the Racine de Monville Home Page may be particularly interested in Lecture ll, The Origins of the French Revolution; Lecture 12, The French Revolution: The Moderate Stage, 1789-1792; and Lecture 13, The French Revolution: The Radical Stage, 1792-1794.

  • Lécuyer, Raymond and Moreux, Jean-Charles, "Le Désert de M. de Monville," in L'Amour de L'Art, Number 3, April 1938. This article in French describes the history of Monsieur de Monville and the Desert de Retz and is illustrated with a number of invaluable photographs depicting several of the buildings as they appeared circa 1938. The article is accompanied by a text in English discussing Jean-Charles Moreux and was posted on a blog, twicemodern~All Aspects of Design 1900-2000 .

  • Leroux-Cesbron, Charles, "M. de Monville, l'Eternel Ennuyé," in Gens et Choses d'Autrefois, Paris, Editions Jules Taillandier, 1914, Pages 209-220.
    The same article under the title, "M. de Monville, Propriétaire à Neuilly au XVIIIe Siècle", in Bulletin de la Commission municipale historique & artistique de Neuilly-sur-Seine 10e Année 2012, Nogent-le-Rotrou, Imprimerie Daupelay=Gouverneur 1913, Pages 132-139. French flag

  • Lockwood, Charles, "Restoring an 18th-Century French Eccentric Garden", in New York Times, August 21, 1986. This article discusses the background of Jean-Marc Heftler and Olivier Choppin-de-Janvry's project to restore the Désert de Retz in the late 1980's.

  • Lockwood, Charles, "A worldly garden: The magic of Désert de Retz", in Preservation News, October 1, 1989. A good discussion of the state of the Désert de Retz during its first restorations. Interviews with Olivier Choppin de Janvry and Jean-Marc Heftler. Four monochrome photographs. New.gif

  • Lynch, Jack, Eighteenth-Century Resources. Lynch, an Assistant Professor in the English department of the Newark campus of Rutgers University, has created a useful and comprehensive portal to the eighteenth century. Categories include Art, Architecture, Landscape Gardening; History; Literature; Music; Philosophy; Religion & Theology; and Science & Mathematics. The site is searchable.

  • Maginnis, Tara, The Costumer's Manifesto: 18th Century Costume Resources Online. This colossal list is the largest directory of 18th century clothing on the web and is particularly rich in French resources. If you want to know how Monsieur de Monville and his contemporaries dressed, proceed no further.

  • Malet, Tina, Femmes des Lumières. Tina Malet, professor of French literature and author of Une Vie de Tilly Ou la Mort du Lys, a biographical novel based on the life and adventures of Monsieur de Monville's friend, Alexandre de Tilly, is also the curator of this French-language blog devoted to the 18th-century women.

  • Nguyen Marie-Lan, Le grand maître des cérémonies et le service des Cérémonies à l'époque moderne (1585-1792). This master's thesis discusses the conduct of life in the French court. Monsieur de Monville applied for the position of Introducteur des Ambassadeurs under Louis XV, but lost out to his friend Dufort de Cheverny. The entire thesis was originally posted on line but has been removed. A short excerpt, along with an English translation, can be found on the Mademoiselle Maupin Home Page.

  • Normand, Suzanne, "Le Désert de Retz à la lisière de la forêt de Marly", in La France Pittoresque, 12 novembre 2014. Evocation d'une visite au Désert de Retz en 1936 et une rencontre avec Mme. Pierre Passy, d'après un artcle paru dans Lectures pour Tous. French flag

  • Okada, Masaki, Landscape of Industrial Ruins. pdf.gif In this interesting and original paper, Professor Okada, of the Kinki University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in Osaka, Japan, discusses how people perceive ruined landscapes and what values of landscape or space people discover when they visit and see industrial heritage and how these valued are categorized. The paper contrasts contemporary industrial ruins with landscapes of ruins in British 18th century picturesque gardens.

  • Olausson, Magnus, The Désert de Retz Revisited in Art Bulletin of Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Volume 21, Stockholm, 2014. pdf.gif

  • Pérouse de Montclos, J.-P., Etienne-Louis Boullée, Paris, 1969. French flag

  • Pichard du Page, René, "Un financier dilettante au XVIII siècle : Jean-Benjamin de La Borde" in Revue de l'histoire de Versailles et de Seine-et-Oise, pages 106-127 and 191-206. Rennes, Paris : Impr. Oberthür ; Versailles : libr. M. Mercier, 1926.French flag

  • Poisson, Georges, "Parcs à fabriques d'Ile-de-France" in Pages-Paysages, 1989. French flag

  • Racine, Michel, Jardins "au naturel" : Rocailles, grotesques et art rustique, Paris, Actes Sud, 2001. Un ouvrage en forme d'hommage aux rocailleurs, ces arrangeurs de rochers, grottes et fontaines qui, de la Renaissance à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, ont créé un peu partout en France jardins et parcs paysagers. French flag

  • Renard, Pierre-Emile, Chambourcy et Le Désert de Retz, Chambourcy, Association Histoire de Chambourcy, de Retz et d'Aigremont (HISCREA), 1984. Préface de Marc Tolédano. Quinze pages de texte et de photographies sont consacrées au Désert de Retz. La préface est surtout interessant car Marc Tolédano naquit au Désert de Retz et raconte ses souvenirs de jeunesse. Disponible chez l'auteur, prix €8.00. French flag

  • Renard, Pierre-Emile, "Le Desert de Retz à la porte du Château de la Bréteche" in La Chronique Camboricienne No. 9-10, Janvier 2011.

  • Rice, Howard C., Thomas Jefferson's Paris, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1991. This is an excellent account of Thomas Jefferson's life and experiences in pre-revolutionary Paris, and includes a great deal of background information placing Jefferson in the context of the intellectual and political ferment of late-18th century France. Highly recommended.

  • Saury, Jean-Louis, Le Désert de Retz Jardin des Lumières, Chambourcy, 2009. A 44-page booklet, produced by the town of Chambourcy, with a text in French and monochrome and color illustrations. Chapters include the history of the Desert de Retz, descriptions of the various follies, a discussion of Monsieur de Monville and future plans for the garden. The volume includes a chronology of Monsieur de Monville, notes and a bibliography. The publication is available from the Chambourcy Town Hall.

  • Schafer, Edward H. Tu Wan's Stone Catalogue of Cloudy Forest: Commentary and Synopsis, University of California Press, 1961. Professor Schafer discusses the Chinese taste in stones, Tu Wan and the history and nature of his catalogue, and the technology and petrology of the 12th century. His synopsis of the Chinese text describes 144 types of stones with translated abstracts of each, material of great interest to modern collectors of scholar's rocks. A discussion of the grotto at the entrance to the Désert de Retz appears on page eleven of this work.

  • Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, is a quarterly journal edited by University of Pennsylvnia professor John Dixon Hunt that publishes well-documented, illustrated articles. It is now established as the main place in which to publish scholarly work on garden history. Sample copy upon request.

  • Taylor, Gordon; Cooper, Guy Gardens Of Obsession: Eccentric And Extravagant Visions, London, Sterling Publishing, 1999. "Gardens of obsession" are "the metamorphoses of dreams, fantasies, ancient myths or allegories made into a physical reality." The authors describe more than 150 gardens that could be called visionary, magical, beautiful, mysterious, witty, and bizarre in Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Italy, Mexico, and Australia.

  • Textes Rares . Témoignages sur le monde de l'édition du XVe au XIXe siècle. Plus de 3000 images et 200 textes en ligne. French flag
    More than 3,000 pictures and 200 complete rare French texts and some extracts dating from the 16th to the 19th century.

  • Trott, David, Le Théâtre en France au XVIII Siècle. An extensive collection of articles, theses, monographs, texts, libretti and compilations relating to theater in France in the 18th century. A unique and invaluable resource created by David Trott of the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Erindale College. Of particular interest is Théâtres de société: rayonnement du répertoire français entre 1700 et 1799, a hyperlinked, illustrated inventory of people and places, researched and compiled by Trott with the collaboration of Marie-Emmanuelle Plagnol-Diéval and Dominique Quéro. French flag

  • Trutat, Denis, et al, Inventaire après le Décès de Racine de Monville , 24 Ventôse-17 Floréal An V [March 14-May 6, 1797]. Manuscript. Archives nationales, Cote MC/ET/LVIII/595. French flag

  • Vasselin, Martine, Le Retour à l'Antique dans les Arts en Europe dans la deuxième moitié du XVIIIème siècle, Département des Arts Plastiques de L'Université de Provence. This excellent resource presents a comprehensive online version of Madame Vasselin's graduate course (in French) and contains numerous illustrations and links. French flag

  • Webb, Michael, «Reawakening an 18th-Century Garden of Ideas: Restoration of the Desert de Retz Landscape Garden in the Forest of Marly Outside Paris», Architectural Digest, 49,3, March 1992, p. 82-93. This is a good overview of the history of the Desert de Retz and its status in 1992. Illustrated with photographs by Marina Faust.

  • Wikipedia entries on the Désert de Retz. English and German.

  • Wilson, Richard Guy, editor, Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village, Charlottesville, The University of Virginia Press, 2009. Thomas Jefferson's design for the University of Virginia is widely hailed as a masterpiece. It is his greatest architectural accomplishment, the summation of his quest for intellectual freedom. The story of the University encompasses the political and architectural worlds, as Jeffeson struggled against great opposition to establish a new type of educational institution. Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village offers a comprehensive look at Jefferson's design for the University, at how it came into being, at the different perecptions of its successes and failures, and at the alterations that have taken place down through the years.

    Richard Guy Wilson holds the Commonwealth Professor's Chair in Architectural History at the University of Virginia, where he is also Chair of the Department of Architectural History


  • Also see the excellent bibliography of works in French and German compiled in 2003 by Dominique Césari and posted on his website, Parcs à Fabriques.


    This page revised March 27, 2017.

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