A famous physicist and early experimenter with the photographic process invented by Talbot, Victor Regnault was a prime mover in early French photography. With Delacroix, among others, he founded the Société Héliographique in 1851, was founding president of the subsequent Société Française de Photographie in 1854, and as director of the Sèvres porcelain factory from 1852 to 1871 made photography a central focus of technical and artistic experiment there. This large photograph represents the gardens laid out by the seventeenth-century landscape designer André Le Nôtre for the duc d'Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV, at Saint-Cloud. At the time the picture was made Saint-Cloud was an important locus of the glittering imperial court of Napoleon III. Yet Regnault probably did not choose to photograph there because it was in vogue, but because it adjoined the Sèvres factory and because the gardens owed their ornament to nearly the same moment as the traditional decorative schemes of Sèvres porcelain. This print, which shows much evidence of handwork on the paper negative, was the sort praised by Paul Périer as being "broad and delicate at the same time, [possessing] detail without harshness, just the right amount of softness in the midgrounds, and finally, having a family resemblance with the best works of the great schools of painting."