(1718–86). French writer, theorist, painter, and landscape-architect. In 1774 he published Essai sur les jardins which popularized the informal ‘English’ garden in France, and celebrated his own Picturesque garden at Le Moulin-Joli near Paris, created 1754–72, based not only on English informality but on Watelet's paintings, influenced by the charming landscapes in the canvases of his friend François Boucher (1703–70). The Essai pays due respect to J.-J. Rousseau (1712–78), who himself influenced the design of several French gardens, notably that at Ermenonville. However, Watelet's garden (destroyed, among many other beautiful things, in the Revolution of 1789) mixed French parterres and straight formal allées with wildernesses, meandering paths, and informal ‘natural’ plantations. His advocacy of working, agricultural landscapes, with fields of crops or pastures for animals, farms, barns, stables, ponds, and so on, visible from the more self-consciously designed-for-pleasure landscape, brought an appreciation of the working, pastoral aspects of the countryside into an aesthetic of garden design. Thus the idea of the ferme ornée became accepted in French theories of landscape. He may have influenced (directly or indirectly) Mique for his designs for the Hameau de Trianon, Versailles (1778–82).
From A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in Oxford Reference.