39 fables

I always thought an installation with lots of Aesop’s fables would be good. But tonight I discovered that Louis XIV got there before me. He had a maze with 39 Aesop’s fables sculptures put into the Gardens at Versailles. I couldn’t really compete with him.

Here’s Charles Perrault’s wonderful guidebook to the fables and maze.


In 1665, André Le Nôtre planned a maze of unadorned paths in an area south of the Latona Fountain near the Orangerie. In 1669, Charles Perrault – author of the Mother Goose stories – advised Louis XIV to remodel the Labyrinthe in such a way as to serve the Dauphin’s education. Between 1672 and 1677 Le Nôtre redesigned the Labyrinthe to feature thirty-nine fountains that depicted stories from Aesop’s Fables. Each sculpture was accompanied by a plaque on which the fable was printed; from these plaques, Louis XIV’s son learned to read. Once completed in 1677 the Labyrinthe contained thirty-nine fountains with 333 painted metal animal sculptures. The water for the elaborate waterworks was conveyed from the Seine by the Machine de Marly. The Labyrinthe is said to have cost the equivalent of £8,000,000 and contained fourteen water-wheels driving 253 pumps, some of which worked at a distance of three-quarters of a mile.


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