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COS Chronicle

A Man of Enlightenment

ARTICLE -

Arts and Travel

What kind of artistic education did Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel receive? Where did the passion for travel, faraway places, the sophisticated, the exotic and the unbelievable that defines his universe come from? What was it that fueled the singular originality and audacious creativity that distinguish every aspect of the estate’s buildings?
Given the lack of a written account of his youth, his education and his discovery of the world, we are left to look to history for clues.

Louis Gaspard d'Estournel (4)
Jacques Malmaison - Reading of Voltaire's L'Orphelin de la Chine in the salon of Madame Geoffrin (1812)
Jacques Malmaison - Reading of Voltaire's L'Orphelin de la Chine in the salon of Madame Geoffrin (1812)

Louis-Gaspard was born during the glorious Age of Enlightenment, at a time where Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire and others were championing the sovereignty of reason, openness to the world and individual liberty, in opposition to obscurantism and ignorance.

Throughout the eighteenth century, new ideas and books were circulating in Europe, and some of these volumes found their way into Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel’s library, alongside works on agriculture, geography and grammar, dictionaries and narratives of travels to foreign lands, including Commerce des européens dans les deux Indes by Guillaume-Thomas Raynac, Correspondance de Victor Jacquemont avec sa famille et ses amis pendant son voyage dans l’Inde and Voyage en Chine by Lord Macartney.

Louis-Gaspard was born during the glorious Age of Enlightenment.

An inventory of his possessions includes musical scores and a pair of violins that were entrusted to the care of Vuillaume, one of Paris’s great luthiers; indeed, Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel, born only decades after the deaths of Vivaldi, Bach and Couperin, was a musician himself. He also owned all the materials necessary to the art of painting. Beyond that, an exploration of his lands and life’s work reveals hints of his passion for nature as well as for techniques and architecture, Asian curiosities and beautiful things of all kinds. The estate’s majestic pagodas, a tasteful blend of Mudéjar, Chinese, classical and Indian styles, serve as striking testimony of his love of the exotic and his open-minded spirit.

More so than a formal written biography, the relics of the cultivated life of Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel tell the story of an erudite, curious man of excellent taste and great learning, an enlightened individual who remained true to his nature throughout his life.

François Boucher - The Chinese Garden (1742)

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