Le Bassin d'Apollon [The Fountain of Apollo, Versailles]

Artist: Adam Perelle (French, Paris 1640–1695 Paris)

Publisher: Published by Nicolas Langlois (French, Paris 1640–1703) , Paris

Date: 1680s

Medium: Etching

Dimensions: Plate: 7 11/16 x 11 5/8 in. (19.6 x 29.6 cm)

Classifications: Prints, Ornament & Architecture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1952

Accession Number: 52.519.84(88)


The impressive scale and complex layout of the palace and gardens of Versailles formed an ideal topic for artists and engravers such as Adam Perelle (1640–1695), whose view of the Grand Canal is illustrated here. Created over a period of forty years (1660–1700), Versailles is considered an icon of French seventeenth-century art, culture, and politics; it was here that the art of the Baroque garden found its ultimate expression and was disseminated across Europe by means of such print works as those of Perelle. The undisputed master of the French garden was André Le Nôtre (1613–1700), whose successful creation of a princely garden in a former swamp involved knowledge of geometry and mechanical engineering as well as expertise in soil chemistry and horticulture. His use of iron pipes—instead of wooden or terracotta ones—made the incredible feat of supplying water to no less than 1,400 fountains and a two-kilometer-long Grand Canal a reality. A large battleship and smaller boats, some reserved for musical performances, others for fireworks, set the stage for one of the famous garden fêtes, celebrating Louis XIV's reign as absolute monarch and Sun King.