Author(s) Loris, Daniel
Title Le thresor des parterres de l’univers...
Imprint Geneva, É. Gamonet, 1629
Localisation Paris, Ensba, Les. 524
Subject Gardens


     Historians of ancient gardens often refer to the engravings in the Thresor des parterres de l’univers, one of the first books of models of “Parterres” and it seems, of the largest collection of “pourtraits” drawn in a characteristic Renaissance style. Nevertheless, a critical study of this work has not yet been done. An examination of the cultural context in which the Thresor appeared could account for its genesis and its contents. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Württembourg enclave of Montbéliard was an important crossroads between the Latin and Germanic linguistic spaces. Montbéliard was a Protestent city; sermons were preached in German in the chateau’s church and in French in the Protestant church, Saint Martin. Consequently, editing the Thresor in Latin, French, English and German partook of the Württemberg-like nature of this work. The classification of the “Parterres” chosen by Daniel Loris was no doubt dependent on the competition between the French and German cultures. In fact, he distinguished between the “Parterres François” and the “Parterres Allemands”. Was this separation justified from the point of view of the history of European gardens or was it influenced more by the local bicultural context?
Daniel Loris was a doctor when he brought out his collection of ornaments. That profession was closely connected to horticultural practices, for numerous medicinal plants were cultivated in aristocratic gardens. As indicated in the dedication epistle, the author was in the service of the dukes of Würtemberg, the counts of Montbéliard. Ulrich (1487-1550) was profoundly interested in science and especially in botany. In 1570, Loris invited the botanist Jean Bauhin to the principality and brought together the rarest plants of his times. Frederick I who reigned from 1558 to 1608 practised alchemy; he fitted out a laboratory near his bedroom and spent a fortune on his experiments. He had the gardens of the Lusthaus (1580-1593) set out in Stuttgart, the capital of the dukedom. At Leonberg, Duchess Sybilla Württemberg commissioned another prestigious garden: the Pomeranzengarten, a “jardin d’oranges amères” designed by Heinrich Schickhardt in 1609. Johann-Frederick de Württemberg-Montbéliard (1582-1628), Frederick I’s successor, reigned over Montbéliard from 1608 to 1617 before yielding the principality to his brother Louis-Frederick (1586-1631), Daniel Loris’ protector. Loris dedicated his work to Leopold-Frederick, Louis-Frederick’s son who was born in 1624. The dedication dated 1629 bears the signature “D. Loris, B. Doct. Med.”. Consequently, this work showing the enthusiasm of the Württemberg princes for gardens was probably not posthumous.
The Württemberg descendants, perceptive patrons, brought capable people to take charge of developing garden art at the court of Montbéliard. In spite of being closed in, the small territory was already endowed with a garden remarkable in its antiquity and its fame. According to Paul de Resener, the “Grand Jardin” of Montbéliard was mentioned as early as 1478. Jean Bauhin (1541-1612) established a botanical garden there in 1578; potatoes were grown there, but not yet as food. Before Daniel Loris, this celebrated botanist was honored with the title of personal doctor to the Count of Montbéliard, occupying that post until his death.
To underline the raison d’être of the Thresor, it is necessary to be interested in the works of Jean and his brother Gaspard as a genre of scientific writing. Jean’s main treatise, the Historia plantarum universalis, published posthumously in 1650-1651, is a compilation of all botanical knowledge of the period. It describes more than 5000 plants and includes more than 3577 illustrations. Gaspard (1560-1624) was a professor of Greek and botany in 1596 when he entered into Frederick I’s service, becoming first personal doctor jointly with his brother Jean. Among numerous publications, Gaspard’s major work, the Pinax theatri botanici (1623), establishes the similarity of all the names various authors had given to the same plants. Gaspard Bauhin’s imposing herbarium at the library of the botanical garden in Basel contains 2360 plants. Specialists do not consider the Bauhin brothers to be innovators, but their work has the merit of synthesizing all knowledge acquired until then. Now the Thresor also seems to be the fruit of a desire to assemble all the knowledge on a subject. Daniel Loris’ book of models would therefore be the outcome of a compilation project in which the author, uninterested in the plants already studied by his predecessors, would be devoted to the ornamentation of the parcels where they were grown. Thus, it was the same need to collect rare and strange wonders, natural or created by man, that is expressed in the works of the three doctors from Montbéliard. A similar desire was at the origin of the Wunderkammern. Loris explains this clearly, for according to the dedicatory epistle, the parterres are really decorated rooms intended for the pieces in a collection of plants.
At the beginning of the 17th century, setting out a prince’s garden required knowledge of botany and architecture. In 1590, the Württemberg architect Heinrich Schickhardt (1558-1634) caught the attention of Count Frederick who summoned him to serve him. From 1595 to 1598, the young architect revealed his talent at Montbéliard, in Alsace and in Württemberg. He then settled in Montbéliard from 1598 to 1608 where he practiced as a town planner, architect, civil and military engineer, inventor and landscape gardener planning numerous pleasure gardens. He then took part in setting out the Grand Jardin in order to build a country house and riding school there in 1623 and 1624. In a view of the Pomeranzengarten that he drew we see a garden made up of eight “compartiments” of the type Charles Estienne and Jean Liébault (1582-83) called “parterres de carreaux rompus” and Daniel Loris called “parterres allemands”. A comparison of the ornaments of the Pomeranzengarten (1609) and the “parterres allemands” of the Thresor (1629) reveals similarities in the compositions. Nevertheless, no pattern in the Duchess of Württemberg’s garden is directly visible in the book of models since Loris’ “pourtraits” were generally more complicated- perhaps the result of two decades of experimenting.
The Thresor also includes ornate “compartiments” of interlacings called “parterres françois” which differ noticeably from their precursors in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499). On the other hand, they are close to the models in the Maison Rustique (1582-83) by Charles Estienne and Jean Liébault- although other solutions in the Thresor, such as the “couronnes” seem original. The “parterres” in the Thresor are thus more sophisticated and more diversified than those in previous sources. Nonetheless, they have a good bit in common with the style of another age if one considers the garden art practiced in France at the beginning of the 17th century. In fact, it is generally agreed that the experiments conducted in 1595 by Claude Mollet and Étienne Dupérac in the gardens at Anet produced new “parterres” progressively preferred to other ornaments. The gardener and the architect then used the “arabesque” made up of a system of stylized plant shapes which they composed by principally using the outline of plant borders and the contours of the beds. In that way, the arabesque can be applied to all kinds of parterres, which could explain its success. In other respects, this motif produces a subtle interplay of mimèsis and a greater unity favoring the transition between the architecture, the garden and the landscape. Thus, at the end of the 16th century, the first horticultural systems similar to “parterres de broderie” and to “parterres de compartiment”, defined in 1709 by Antoine-Joseph Dézallier d’Argenville, were embellishing the gardens at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the Tuileries and the Luxembourg. Olivier de Serres reproduced a few examples of them in the Théâtre d’agriculture et mesnage des champs (1600). On the other hand, in the areas belonging to the Protestant German princes, sources reveal an affection for the Renaissance garden tradition which seems to extend well into the 17th century. In fact, ornamental solutions similar to Daniel Loris’ are visible in the Architectura civilis, architectura recreatonis by Joseph Furttenbach (Augsburg 1640) and the Architectura curiosa nova by Georg Andreas Böckler (Nuremberg 1664). According to Dorothee Nerhing, Joseph Furttenbach the Elder’s garden plans “s’adressent expressément à toutes les classes de la société, ausi bien la noblesse qu’à la bourgeoisie”. (2002, p.156). To satisfy this arrangement, the designs that are relatively simple to execute and to maintain are preferred to the pruned beds with borders planted in “broderies”. Nevertheless, the Hortus Palatinus in Heidelberg (1620) created by Salomon de Caus for Frederick V, Elector Palatine, is an exception. Here we have a garden of an intermediary style, for the French architect used the “arabesques” and the “entrelacs” together. Here, in spite of the patron’s love of things French, French novelties were not indispensable and skirt the ancient motif of the “parterre françois” which endured in Germany. So at the beginning of the 17th century, the principality of Montbéliard did not seem open to French innovations in the art of creating gardens.
As for the abstract interlacing motifs in the Thresor, they were called “parterres françois”, at that time an outdated designation- however not un unjust one. In fact, the use of interlacings in parterre design was popular and generalized in France, before the arabesque, in the second half of the 16th century, at a period when the Italian models were already less predominant. The first models from Italy were different; they were “parterres de carreaux rompus”, and one of the first representations which has come down to us appears in the Regole generali di architetura, or Quarto libro (1537) by Sebastiano Serlio. As indicated by the name “parterres allemands”, the form in “carreaux rompus” spread throughout Europe during the 16th century and the gardeners who appropriated it seemed to have forgotten its origin. It also appears in Les plus excellents bastiments de France (1572-1579) by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau. Therefore the “carreaux rompus” are formal in Italy, France and Germany, but also in Spain and England, as Loris noted in epigraph to the first book of the Thresor in which there is a collection of ornaments wrongly called “parterres allemands”. Also, he placed a few “carreaux rompus” at the beginning of the forty-three interlacings in the series of the “parterres françois”, probably because the “carreaux rompus” were also present in Renaissance French gardens. In fact, the designations “parterres françois” and “parterres allemands” would have proceeded more from the principality’s bicultural context than from a real stylistic difference.
At the end of the 16th century, the “parterre de carreaux rompus” embellished the gardens of Europe and contributed, it seems, to define an “international style” of the Renaissance garden. But all the same the design of Loris’ “carreaux rompus” differs from Serlio’s models and those of Androuet du Cerceau. The two architects show motifs which could have been inspired by the centered church plans: the beds constituting the parterre, rather simple, are sketches of concentric squares separated by a system of continuous passe-pieds. The other solutions are hardly more complicated. Daniel Loris reveals a possible improvement on the plan, for in the middle of the parterre, some vegetation “in the shape of a cross, of roses, of a heart, &c” become legible and autonomous ornamental sub-units. In that way, the surfaces contributed to the all-over composition of the parterre by giving structure to it while at the same time being individually comprehensible. The third category of parterres in the Thresor are the labyrinths. The layout used most often was the maze with no junctions: a layout directly inherited from the paving of medieval churches. Renaissance taste persisted in appreciating this taste. Thus, at the beginning of the 17th century, in spite of the talent of scientists and artists like Daniel Loris, the principality of Montbéliard was subjected to a certain cultural isolation which provoked the late development of the Renaissance there. The Thresor des parterres de l’Univers, which does not mention the parterres of the first Baroque gardens, even while compiling a sizeable number of ornamental recommendations adapted to the needs of a Germanic public, gives a remarkable account of that period.

Laurent Paya
(Montpellier, ARTOPOS/ École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture) – 2006

Critical bibliography

A. Bouvard, L’architecte wurtembergeois Heinrich Schickhardt et ses travaux dans la principauté de Montbéliard, Pochette pédagogique n° 8, Archives Municipales de Montbéliard, Montbéliard, 1981.

F. Brendle, "Les enclaves territoriales et confessionnelles du duché de Wurtemberg, Montbéliard, Horbourg et Riquewihr", P. Delsalle & A. Ferrer (ed.), Les enclaves territoriales aux Temps modernes, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles, Besançon, Presses universitaires franc-comtoises, 2000, p. 430.

D. Nehring, "Les projets de jardins de Joseph Furtembach l’Ancien", M. Mosser & G. Teyssot (ed.), Histoire des jardins de la Renaissance à aujourd’hui, Paris, Flammarion, 2002, pp. 156-158.

J. Gauthier, "L’architecte wurtembergeois Heinrich Schickhardt et ses travaux dans Pays de Montbéliard", Mémoires de l’Académie des Sciences, Belles Lettres et Arts de Besançon, 1894, pp. 237-252.

P. de Resener, Abrégé de l’histoire du pays de Montbéliard, depuis les temps primitifs jusqu’à sa réunion à la France en 1793, Montbéliard, Pétermann, 1892.

L. Paya, Les parterres des jardins à compartiments en France et dans le monde (1450-1650) entre figures de pensées et ornements de verdure, PhD Dissertation (under the direction of Y. Pauwels), Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours, 2012.

J. Vann Allen, The Making of a state : Württemberg 1593-1793, London/Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1984.