Jean-Luc Moulène, untitled, 1992, color photograph, 47 1/4 x 61". All works from the suite M. Chaudun’s Garden, 1991–2006, from the series “Fénautrigues,” 1991–2006.

LE NÔTRE HAD IT EASY. With the grand machinery of the Sun King at his fingertips, the legendary designer handily achieved the ancien régime’s most sweeping and autocratic transformation of the landscape: the gardens of Versailles. Typology, natural history, and authority converged in axial paths and forced perspectives, exotic trees and orchestrated fountains.

Against this living archetype of luxurious perfection, there is the far rougher and more modest garden of one Victor Chaudun—a twentieth-century successor to Le Nôtre and director of the arboretum at Versailles. After Chaudun retired from his post, he tended his own personal garden in the southern region of Lot. And when Chaudun passed away in 1990, the Parisian artist Jean-Luc Moulène began photographing his friend’s botanical creation. Its horticulture left to run wild, the once edenic terrain has fallen into a phantasmal

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