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0219 Małgorzata Omilanowska, Private Gardens of the Tyszkiewiczs, Bnińskis, and the Potulickis Designed by Édouard André in Poland and Lithuania

RIHA Journal 0219 | 30 August 2019

Private Gardens of the Tyszkiewiczs, Bnińskis, and the Potulickis Designed by Édouard André in Poland and Lithuania1

Małgorzata Omilanowska


One of the most outstanding designers of 19th-century European gardens was Édouard André, famous both as a theoretician, author of numerous publications, and first of all as a practitioner: designer of several hundred of private and public park layouts for clients from around the world. These also included Polish aristocrats: the Bnińskis, Potulickis and the Tyszkiewiczs, for whom he designed park complexes preserved until today in Poland: Samostrzel and Potulice, as well as in Lithuania: in Landwarów (Lentvaris), Zatrocze (Užutrakis), Waka (Trakų Vokė), and Połąga (Palanga). The recreation of the history of laying out these parks and their analysis allow to enrich our knowledge of André’s creative methods and of the organization of his business on the one hand, and of the ambitions and potential of the landowners of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on the other.

Édouard André and his works around the world

[1] The art of laying out gardens in the second half of the 19th century in a sense reached new dimensions. Resulting from many factors, this phenomenon stemmed predominantly from the historicism-related freedom of applying several, often simultaneously, design solutions known from the past; but also from the technological and scientific progress, mainly the advancement in botany, introducing many new plant species and varieties, and technical solutions; and last but not least, from the number of tasks related to city-forming processes, such as laying out new city or spa parks. It goes without saying that one of the best-known, sought after, and influential artists of the second half of the 19th century in this respect was Édouard André (1840–1911).2 He began his career as an associate of Adolphe Alphand when laying out the Paris city park of Buttes-Chaumont, but he became famous only winning the 1867 competition for Liverpool’s Sefton Park.3 A versatile artist, capable of designing large park complexes of different kinds, he was an excellent botanist, also dealing with architecture and urban designing. In 1879, he published his extensive work L’Art des jardins, which combined features of a theoretical treatise with a practical guide.4 As of 1882, André was editor of Revue horticole where he often published his papers; from 1892, he was Professor at the École d’horticulture de Versailles. Starting in the early 1890s, André closely cooperated with his son René-Édouard (1867–1942).

[2] André is regarded to be the creator and promoter of the so-called mixed style: le style mixte, or in other words of the style composite, consisting in combining two traditional compositions: a rigorous symmetrical and formal garden placed in the direct vicinity of a palace, and a park strictly speaking in a further distance.5 André won the greatest fame by designing the parks in Montpellier, Monte Carlo, Luxembourg, on Madeira, numerous residence parks in France, and laying out an enormous complex in Montevideo. Moreover, with his son René-Édouard André he designed public and private parks in Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor, in Cuba, Bulgaria, and Constantinople. In Vienna, he worked for the Rothschilds. In Russia, which he reached in 1869 in order to participate in the large International Horticultural Exhibition in St Petersburg,6 he designed the alteration of the garden at the Semenskoe-Otrada residence near Moscow for Count Vladimir Orloff-Davidoff (unaccomplished); then he headed for the south of the Empire, where in Crimea he designed the Muhalatka [Мухолатка] park near Yalta, and the parterres in front of the Odessa villa of the entrepreneurial family of the Zarifis.7 He travelled a lot, maintaining contacts with famous European gardeners, e.g. the Hosers in Warsaw. The list of Édouard André’s clients also included Polish aristocratic families; for them he either designed or modernized six park ensembles: two on the territories of the Prussian Partition (Samostrzel for the Bnińskis, Potulice for Aniela Potulicka), as well as four within the Russian Partition, in Lithuania, for interrelated members of the Tyszkiewicz family: in Landwarów (Lentvaris), Zatrocze (Užutrakis), Waka (Trakų Vokė), and Połąga (Palanga) on the Baltic. The works of Édouard André for the clients from Poland and Lithuania were missing in an extensive obituary published in Revue horticole, in which over 60 of his works were enumerated, therefore they remained unmentioned in all the artist’s biographical notes published until the 1960s.8 In Polish literature, in turn, the name of Édouard André has for long been associated with the Samostrzel park, though until now it has been regarded as unconfirmed by the sources.9 It has also been known that the artist was involved in the works related to the Tyszkiewiczs’ residences in Lithuania.10 However, until my Polish article on the subject was published in 2009, his name has never been associated with the Potulice park.

[3] The Lithuanian parks have for years been of interest to the local scholars, who have managed to ascertain many vital details related to those commissions.11 Most importantly, they have revealed and published the designs of the parks at Lentvaris and Palanga.12 Regimantas Pilkauskas has also published the correspondence of Édouard André and Feliks Tyszkiewicz from 1904 and André’s two business cards featuring a list of André’s agency’s most important implementations.13 Thanks to that publication not only was André’s contribution to creating the Samostrzel park confirmed, but also the first verified piece of information appeared on his work at Potulice.

[4] Owing to the kindness of Florence André and Stéphanie de Courtois, I have been granted access to René André’s notes from his trips to Poland and Lithuania in 1897, 1898, and 1899, as well as his letters to his fiancée of June 1898, available at the Association Édouard André (1840–1911) in La Croix-en-Touraine.14 Moreover, an important source of information in relation to the Lithuanian parks has been provided to me by the memoir manuscripts of Zofia Potocka (1874–1958), née Tyszkiewicz, and Helena Ostrowska (1876–1953), née Tyszkiewicz.15

[5] There is no certainty as for who first had the idea of employing André, though if we were to believe Zofia Potocka, "Count Władysław [Tyszkiewicz], having met in France the author of the Monte Carlo gardens and parks Edward André, has come with him to Lithuania. A costly enterprise, however the cost split among several participants was actually reasonable."16 Samostrzel and Potulice are neighbouring estates, while the Bnińskis of Samostrzel were related to the Tyszkiewiczs of Palanga, thus the variants of who recommended André to whom could be numerous.

Édouard André’s parks in Poland


[6] Samostrzel had been the property of the Bnińskis from 1698, while the Baroque palace was raised in the 1740s.17 It was remodelled for the first time in around 1830: that alteration, unsupported by the sources, has been related to Karl Friedrich Schinkel.18 Another modernization of the residence was launched by Ignacy Bniński together with his wife Emilia, née Łącki, most likely in the 1880s. That extension, however not confirmed by the sources, is occasionally attributed to the Berlin architect Franz Heinrich Schwechten.19 The alterations also included the layout of the garden in front of the palace and the park, yet at that particular stage by an unidentified landscape architect, and the works had been completed still before Ignacy Bniński’s death in 1893. The information provided on André’s above-mentioned visiting card also lists the Samostrzel park for "Bnińska (C-tesse) [comtesse]", thus the works must have been conducted after the death of Ignacy; the first certain dated mention relating André to Samostrzel is of 11 June 1898.20 Some information on the works undertaken by Édouard André can be found in the letter of René André of 27 June 1898:

Le palais est grand et beau, entouré de beaux parterres à la française, dessinés par la comtesse et auxquelles nous avons à faire des retouches et des additions. Nous avons passé la journée d’avant-hier et celle d’hier à relever des mesures pour faire un projet aux trois crayons que nous avons présenté ce matin. Cela nous fera encore une somme de 1500 F qui, ajoutée aux autres fera monter à environ 10 000 F le total de ce que nous aura rapporté ce voyage.21

In a photo album kept by Laurent Penicaud, great-grandson of Édouard André, the photo from Samostrzel is accompanied by the caption: "Parterres at Samostrzel. The parterres were created for Countess Bnińska, checked and corrected by Édouard and René André on 27 June 1898."22 It is impossible today to separate the contribution of André from that of a potential earlier designer (the countess herself?) to the overall design, today known only from later photographic records.

[7] The palace at Samostrzel faces southwards with its front, on the slope of the escarpment on the Noteć, inclined in the same direction, not far from a deep ravine of the Rokitka river, this meandering in the northern part of the park, and forming a steep escarpment, separating the park just next to the southern palace elevation. When the park was designed, the natural values of the residence’s location were perfectly taken advantage of. Just in front of the palace façade an impressive complex of terraces was created, these coming down to the road leading to Sadki, whereas from the side of the garden there is an extensive terrace, with a pleasure ground stretching further on, around which a ring alley was marked out in order to allow a splendid view of the residence as well as of the surrounding garden complex.

[8] Placed on the axis of the alley leading from the direction of Kcynia and the railway station to the residence, the main gate into the park was from the south. Carriages were provided a driveway arching widely on the western side (from the east side there was the Rokitka ravine). The whole space framed by the driveway and the ravine in front of the palace up to the main gate was planned in the form of several terraces of various height joined by stairs following a typical geometrical scheme echoing Italian Renaissance gardens (Fig. 1).

1 Samostrzel, complex of terraces, photograph ca. 1912 (repr. from: Leonard Durczykiewicz, Dwory polskie w Wielkim Księstwie Poznańskiem, Poznań 1912, 325)

The main exit from the palace led directly to the driveway which ended before a portico. Six broad stone stairs placed on the axis of the entrance led from the level of the driveway to the first wide terrace with a circular stone fountain pool in the middle, surrounded by flower beds. From the west the terrace was limited by the pedestrian descent leading straight to the main gate, this framed by baluster railings decorated with stone vases. From the east, along the first terrace, there was a sumptuous colonnaded pergola which ended in a little pillared belvedere on a square layout with triangular finials. There were nine wide stone stairs leading centrally from the top terrace to the next level, flanked by hedged ronds-points featuring stone benches, sculptures, and columns with vases. The second terrace with flower beds was from the south marked out by baluster railings decorated with stone vases, to the sides of which two flights of stairs, of 23 steps each, led onto the next level of the third terrace. The retaining wall separating the second from the third terrace, crowned with the aforementioned balustrade, flanked by the stairs to the sides, gained divisions by pilasters, among which eight semi-circular closed niches with sculptures presenting muses were placed. To the sides of the stairs, from the outside, the terrace of the second level was extended further to the south, forming a kind of substantial avant-corps with bossage walls crowned with belvederes in the form of colonnaded pergolas with sculptures: the western on the rectangular layout, and the eastern on that of a pentagonal exedra. The terraces also had their practical usage: behind the retaining wall utility and store rooms were placed, these to be entered from the western avant-corps; the eastern one featured a window.

[9] Also the bottom terrace had a centrally placed stone circular pool with a fountain, separating it from the south with baluster railings featuring vases and sphinxes. From the north, in front of the garden palace elevation, a geometrically laid out parterre with flower beds was arranged, centrally featuring a stone fountain pool of a complex layout, demarcated by a concave-convex line of baluster railings. What stretched out further afield was a vast grass clearing with scarce clutches of carefully selected trees and shrubs encircled by a perimeter avenue, with the park seamlessly becoming a wild forest (Fig. 2).

2 Samostrzel, park in front of the garden palace elevation, photograph before 1939, collection of Bniński family (© Instytut Historii Sztuki UAM, Poznań)

[10] The set of front terraces at Samostrzel constituted in Poland a rare example of such a meticulous and consistent composing of the garden space, with the use of formal repertory creating an exceptionally elaborate setting for the palace. Tadeusz Chrzanowski and Marian Kornecki saw in this composition an echo of the Tivoli Gardens in Italy (1560–1575) with their almost canonical terraced arrangement. Gerard Ciołek defined the Samostrzel gardens as "Italian terraces".23 It seems that Édouard André, undoubtedly familiar with Tivoli, in the case of Samostrzel applied also his earlier experience of composing terrace complexes, e.g. in Monte Carlo.


[11] It was only Kazimierz Wojciech Potulicki, the owner of the estate since 1852, who raised the palace at his Potulice family estate.24 The authorship of the palace is attributed to Stanislaw Hebanowski.25 Ca. 1865 or ca. 1870 are given as the most likely dates for the building of the palace; however, mention is made that the construction went on for a long time, and was conducted in two or even three stages.26 In 1880, Kazimierz Wojciech Potulicki, still in his lifetime, bequeathed the Potulice estate to his daughter Aniela, who ran it until her death in 1932.27

[12] Regrettably, little is known of the Potulice park. The first landscape ensemble was unquestionably created already in the times of Kazimierz Wojciech Potulicki; it is also known that in the front the palace was preceded by a low rectangular terrace decorated with a parterre, and further surrounded by a vast flower bed with scarce trees.28 Édouard André undertook the designing of the remodelling of the Potulice park in 1898. From the notebooks and the correspondence of his son René Édouard André it can be deduced that he met Aniela Potulicka in June 1898 on the recommendation of Maria Bnińska whom he was at that time visiting at Samostrzel.29 René André in letter no. 110 to his fiancée wrote as follows:

La propriété est intéressante mais on y a fait des travaux sans esprit de suite et sans plan arrêté. D'où une incohérence qui a déjà coûté très cher. Nous espérons pouvoir mettre un peu d'ordre en tout cela et nous allons faire de grands parterres architecturaux, bâtir un jardin d'hiver, remanier les serres et peut être en plus arranger le château. [...] Nous avons passé à Potulice une journée entière [...], je suis resté chez la Comtesse parce que l'affaire en vaut la peine: j'ai fait de nombreux relevés et pris des photographies.30

[13] From the notes of René André it results that Édouard André visited Potulice and Samostrzel also the following year on 26–28 May on his way back from Moscow and St Petersburg to Paris via Warsaw. In Warsaw, he visited several parks, among them the Saxon garden, the Ujazdów park, the Botanic garden, the Łazienki and Wilanów parks, and was also in touch with Piotr Hoser.31 The notes evince that he was corresponding with Aniela Potulicka, sending her garden catalogues, e.g. with patterns of garden furniture.

[14] It remains unknown how long the works on the remodelling of the Potulice park went on. The photographs published in 1912 of the palace together with its closest surroundings show the already completed ensemble together with the orangery raised at the time on the prolongation of the lateral wing.32 Research undertaken so far has not led to revealing the park design, the historical photographic record is extremely scarce, while the ensemble as such actually has ceased to exist.33

[15] The Potulice palace was raised almost on the verge of the Noteć escarpment, with its front facing southwards, and its garden elevation towards the vast Noteć valley stretching at the foot of the escarpment. André could have used the elements of the earlier existing Romantic layout, yet he proposed a new solution, applying the style mixte, just as in the case of other parks. In front of the palace façade the artist left the already existing low broad rectangular terrace. Before it, he laid out a formal garden decorated centrally with a circular fountain (Fig. 3).

3 Potulice, palace and formal garden in front of the façade, photograph ca. 1912 (repr. from: Durczykiewicz, Dwory polskie w Wielkim Księstwie Poznańskiem, 324)

The garden boasted an untypical almost trapezoidal shape whose wider base was formed by a driveway running along the terrace border, with the sides demarcated by diagonal driveways, approaching each other, however not joining to form one avenue, but turning into two parallel twin avenues leading to the Bydgoszcz-Nakło road. A long flower bed was thus formed between the two. André had already discussed this solution in his treatise, considering it appropriate with respect to palaces of asymmetrically arranged masses.34

[16] From the east, in front of the elevation of the lateral wing and orangery, a substantially large rectangular garden was arranged. Little is known of it, though it can be suspected that it, too, was of formal character with geometrical parterres. A 1912 photo (Fig. 4) allows to also discern a meticulously laid out observation deck in front of the northern palace elevation, decorated with a central circular fountain, little walls, and potted flowers, ending on the escarpment edge from where a breathtaking view of the whole river valley could be admired.35

4 Potulice, palace and terrace in front of the garden elevation, photograph ca. 1912 (repr. from: Durczykiewicz, Dwory polskie w Wielkim Księstwie Poznańskiem, 322)

[17] It is much harder to recreate the course of the avenues and identify the genuine plants of the landscape park. One of the avenues led to a chapel. Clearly distinguishable is the chestnut avenue leading from the east to the west along the southern edge of the formal garden, however the multiple wild felling and post-WW II accidental planting have entirely blurred the character of the preserved fragments of the park.

Édouard André’s parks in Lithuania

[18] The parks designed in Lithuania were commissioned by closely related members of the Tyszkiewicz family, and were actually created at the same time. Three of them were commissioned by sons of Józef Tyszkiewicz: Lentvaris was commissioned by Władysław, Užutrakis by Józef, Palanga by Feliks, while the fourth one in Trakų Vokė by their cousin Jan. In her memoirs written after WW II Helena Ostrowska, née Tyszkiewicz, Józef Tyszkiewicz’s daughter, recalled her brothers in the following way: "they shared the same taste for antiques and building residences, however they neither smoked, liked alcohol, nor went hunting".36 And she continued: "all the brothers as if stupefied by the wealth they had inherited, had some kind of a mania for raising residences…".37 Indeed, almost all at the same time had new palaces erected, and began cooperating with André. Only their cousin Jan Tyszkiewicz was satisfied with the residence he inherited from his father, commissioning merely a new park.

[19] It remains unknown when Édouard André arrived in Lithuania, and when he began working on the parks’ designs. Some information on the topic can be found in the notes of René André’s diaries, mainly on Édouard’s stay at Lentvaris in September 1897, since the entry dated 17 September includes information on a telegram dispatched to his father, who was at the time staying there.38 January 1898 notes include information on the preparations for the trip to Lithuania in relation to the commission of Józef Tyszkiewicz, the Užutrakis estate owner, as well as on making plans for Feliks Tyszkiewicz of Palanga. There is confirmation of the stay of Édouard André and his son René with their Lithuanian clients in June 1898, as well as in May, September, and October 1899; also the exchange of telegrams between André and Jan Tyszkiewicz in 1900 as well as with Józef Tyszkiewicz in 1901 was recorded. Further details are contained in René André’s letters nos. 108 and 109 of 21 and 27 June 1898 to his fiancée Claire in which he writes about the visits to Užutrakis, Trakų Vokė, and Lentvaris. Zofia Potocka and Edmund Jankowski mentioned that the works on the Lentvaris park began already in 1896, this likely in the light of René André’s notes.39 The preserved correspondence between Édouard André and Feliks Tyszkiewicz of 1904 does not shed any new light on the topic.40

Lentvaris (Landwarów)

[20] The Lentvaris estate was Józef Tyszkiewicz’s property as of about 1855. Raised on an elevation, the palace from the mid-1860s was surrounded by a deep ravine, flooded and turned into a lake on Józef Tyszkiewicz’s request, this achieved through a canal system that brought in water from the large Lake Galwe (Galvė) six kilometers away.41 Following Józef’s death in 1891, the estate was inherited by his eldest son Władysław, who launched the extension of the residence most likely in 1896, employing for the job the Belgian architect de Waegh.42 The palace was substantially extended, with its elevation thoroughly transformed in the style of "late English Gothic from the times of Elisabeth I".43 A shell with the roof in 1898, the palace was most likely completed in 1899.44

[21] The Lentvaris park was undoubtedly laid out already by Józef Tyszkiewicz in the latter half of the 1860s. The first brief description of the garden was provided by Edward Chłopicki; the second was written by Edmund Jankowski in 1896.45 The layout of the park can also be recreated from the preserved 1873 plan.46 This allows to ascertain the range of works conducted after André’s design, and it was by all means really substantial. Zofia Potocka wrote:

The beginning at Lentvaris. Quite a vast portion of land was dug over, and a sewer system installed; certain hills were levelled, and new ones raised. Old trees were replanted, perfectly acclimatizing in their new locations. Young trees and shrubs were planted. The land across the lake was afforested, and incorporated into the park with wide avenues winding amidst clearings and groves. Serious works required much labour. Army people and prisoners were employed […].47

Potocka also mentioned that

Mr Edward André, the planner of the Lentvaris park, also had his deputies and executors of his designs; he had brought the engineer planner Mr Buysens [actually: Jules Buyssens] and Mr de Coulomb, a specialist stonemason supported by an excellent Polish specialist Hudała, apparently of Czech descent. Mr André remained in regular contact with him, since his occupation in the West did not permit him to stay permanently in Lithuania.48

[22] The notes made by René André point to the already mentioned fact that his father visited Lentvaris in September 1897, on 10–11 May 1898, in the latter half of June 1898, and in May 1899, as well as at the end of September and in early October 1899. The notes from 1898 contain information on financial settlements with Władysław Tyszkiewicz who was to pay 1,500 francs in 1898, and the same amount a year later, with possible extra payments for future projects.49

[23] The 1898 notebook has preserved several sketches of the Lentvaris park, e.g. cross-sections showing the differences in height between respective cascade levels, sketches of the palace surroundings, with the marking out of the avenues, the bridge, the cascade of the stream feeding the Lentvaris lake on the way to the "Riviera", and the shoreline of the lake with viewpoints in relation to the palace.50 René André wrote to his fiancée: "nous sommes retournés à Landvarovo chez le comte Ladislas [...] où les travaux prennent assez d’importance pour que nous fassions venir un conducteur de France".51 The preserved design of the Lentvaris park executed by Édouard André covers only the formal garden (Fig. 5).52 Fortunately, a lot of historical photographs have been preserved, and so have vivid descriptions by Zofia Potocka, while the current state of the park, as neglected as it is, allows for its reconstruction.

5 Édouard André, design of the Lentvaris (Landwarów) park, about 1896. École nationale supérieure d’horticulture de Versailles (repr. from: "Lietuvos želdynų ateitis", in: Acta Academiae Atrium Vilnensis 23, Vilnius 2001)

[24] The palace was raised on a hill, on a small peninsula surrounded by the water of Lake Landwarów (Lentvaris ež.) from the west, south, and southeast, and from the east by a lower pond created across the causeway leading to the palace. Its façade faced the north. The road to the town and railway station ran along the western shore of the lake; it was from there that the causeway allowed to reach the residence and the gate located to the southeast of the palace. From the gate, a wide road gently curved around the palace from the east, and led directly to the driveway in front of the façade. The formal garden stretching in front of the façade (Fig. 6) was described by Potocka in the following way:

From the driveway a four-sided shape with two parterres among five avenues. By the end of the middle one planted with pyramid-shaped thujas and spherical boxwood, a small rond-point with benches on both sides of the bust of Bishop Jerzy Tyszkiewicz (the Łohojski line) 17th century, against the backdrop of the lane of beech trees hiding the stables and administration facilities. In the centre of each parterre a slender column with a stone vase filled with flowers.53

6 Lentvaris (Landwarów), palace and formal garden, photograph before 1914 (repr. of the photograph contained in the manuscript of: Potocka, Teki rodzinne, vol. 12, 64 © Warsaw, National Library, Ms. Collection, cat. no. 10114)

Apart from the above-described two symmetrical parterres with columns, the garden also featured several ronds-points surrounded by baluster railings arranged on the western edge of the park, and a rectangular pool with a fountain on the eastern edge. Moreover, the garden was also decorated with copies of sculptures imported by Władysław Tyszkiewicz from Italy.

[25] There were two flights of stairs descending to the lake from a smallish terrace in front of the garden elevation. The terrain did not allow a free designing of a landscape park within the direct vicinity of the palace: to the north, beyond the parterre garden described by Potocka and the lane of beech trees, there stretched a vast area of farm buildings, with stables and a manège. The landscape park was made up of two separate parts: the "Riviera" placed to the northwest of the palace and the stables, to which a road winding on the northern shore of the lake led; and "Switzerland" stretching out to the east and northeast of the palace.

[26] Extending along the lakeshore, the "Riviera" began at the place where the stream flowed into Lake Landwarów. A picturesque cascade was formed there, and a little bridge was placed which offered a splendid view of the peninsula with the palace. Further on there were a summer café pavilion and a little marina.

[27] "Switzerland" constituted the part of the park with an extremely varied terrain. To the east of the palace there had already existed a substantial hill featuring a mock Gothic octagonal water tower at the top, erected by Józef Tyszkiewicz, and remodelled by Władysław to turn it into a residential facility with guest rooms. From the tower, steep paths with stone steps wound downwards to the complex of four ponds. Connected by cascades, the ponds were fed by the water from the lake, transferred in underground canals across the farm facilities. The first of the ponds was located north of the palace, and subsequently they formed a complex which arched eastwards and southwards. Between the third and fourth pond, a particularly picturesque and elaborate cascade with barrages, passing through a picturesque grotto, was created (Fig. 7). Above the grotto, a road was marked out to lead towards the eastern part of the park. The last pond was connected with the second watercourse cutting off the peninsula with the palace from the southeast, that was intaking water from Lake Landwarów. East of the pond chain, further hills with avenues and an observation deck, maybe even with an arbour, rose.

7 Lentvaris (Landwarów), grotto in "Switzerland", photograph before 1914 (repr. from the manuscript of: Potocka, Teki rodzinne, vol. 3, 56 © Warsaw, National Library, Ms. Collection, cat. no. 10114)

[28] The shaping of "Switzerland" required thorough stonemason works, since not only did the cascades and the grotto have to be built, but the ponds’ banks had to be reinforced, and paths with stone steps built. The majority of those elements have survived until today, however hardly anything has been left of the park architecture, e.g. a stone table with a bench mimicking a felled tree trunk. What is known from photographs is also a thatched open arbour that granted a view of the tennis court. Moreover, Potocka mentioned that

in the pine wood on the lake [the gardener Dworzak] established a charming chapel in the open air with the effigy of Our Lady of Częstochowa, in front of which an oil lamp was lit. The painting’s frame, benches, and the chapel’s decoration of wood mimicking tree roots. The roofless chapel with no walls was visited by the local people, laying flowers and votive offerings in front of the painting.54

[29] It is hard to find an analogy for Lentvaris. The palace was untypically located and featured a unique terrain circled by the water of a man-made lake. The created complex of ponds and cascades with grottos ranks among rare examples of such an intense use of water in landscaping a park. On a relatively small area (the Lentvaris park has the surface of about 15 hectares55) a whole intricate system of streams, cascades, and ponds was created. It was 'superposed' over the earlier one, also artificial and – in view of its hydraulic engineering – quite complex system of tanks connected to streams and weirs: André used the already existing structure of the water system in order to enrich the park with some rare effects.

Palanga (Połąga)

[30] In Palanga on the Baltic there had been no residence before. The estate had been the property of the Tyszkiewiczs from 1824, yet no one had lived there permanently.56 It was only Feliks Tyszkiewicz, the lord of Palanga as of 1891, and his wife Antonina, née Łącki, who decided to raise a new residence there, while also launching a major investment project, namely establishing a seaside resort.57

[31] Designed by the German architect Franz Heinrich Schwechten (1841–1924), the new residence was erected in 1896–1897. The first steps in the design process of the park must have been taken before the construction of the palace started: The building was erected on a substantially high elevation, artificially raised with the earth excavated from the spot where a park pond was to be later created, whose location must have been marked out by the designer of the whole ensemble. Therefore the first conceptual sketches of the park must have been made in the spring of 1896 at the latest. The notes of René André contain very scarce mentions of some designing works for Feliks Tyszkiewicz in January 1898, as well as of some stays of Édouard André in Palanga in June 1898, on 7–8 May 1899, and most likely also on 27–28 September of that year. Slightly more information is contained in the 1899 diary: the entry dated 26 September mentions the fact of sending Feliks Tyszkiewicz views of grottos and caves, as well as a copy of the book L’Art des jardins. On 27 September, René André noted having received 1,000 roubles from Feliks Tyszkiewicz, and a day later the fact of photographs being taken in Palanga.58

[32] The Palanga park is the only work of André’s for his Polish clients whose overall design has survived (Fig. 8).59 Named Birut’s Park, it is a precisely elaborated implementation plan, featuring a detailed legend. The design must have been created in 1898 at the latest, since in 1899 the reporter of Ogrodnik Polski was saying that grand-scale works were underway in Birut’s Park and would not soon be completed.60 In 1900, during the earthworks, below a layer of a peat deposit "6–10 feet below ground", a valuable layer of amber was discovered, this suggesting that the works were still ongoing.61

8 Édouard André, design of the Birutė park in Palanga (Połąga), before 1898. École nationale supérieure d’horticulture de Versailles (repr. from: Kelionės ir pramogos 5 (10) (1999), n.p.)

[33] Designing the Palanga park must have been a particularly interesting task for André, since he did not have to take into consideration any already existing elements of an old layout, but he was faced with the challenge of designing a new park on a "raw root"; what is more, on a vast surface (more than 80 hectares) and located in an extremely attractive strip of the coast with a natural pine forest. The Palanga pine trees of red bark and wind-torn crowns must have particularly enchanted the French gardener, since he published in Revue horticole the article "Le Pin de Riga" in which he promoted this pine variety in France, offering its seeds for sale.62 Moreover, Revue horticole published a coloured lithograph showing the Birut Park with the palace, and a detailed description of the park written by René-Édouard André.63 There is mention of three years or, more strictly speaking, three seasons of conducting the works, thus the park may have been completed in 1901.64

[34] The park was laid out over a vast piece of land limited by the seashore from the west, by a road from the east, and by the borderline of the resort from the north. In the south it merged with a virgin forest, also property of the Tyszkiewiczs, which stretched out up to the border with Prussia. The palace was situated in the very centre of this area, only slightly moved towards the northwest. There was a hill called Birutė Mount located within the park, almost on the shore; a place enshrouded in the mysterious tales of a pagan temple that had once existed there. The future wife of Kęstutis (Grand Duke of Lithuania, 1297–1382), Birutė, was said to have cultivated fire there.

[35] The main entrance to the park was from the Memel road through the gate placed in the northeast corner, this being the closest from the town and access road, simultaneously at the point allowing a relatively long ride across the park to the palace. The entrance for farm and provision vehicles was also planned from that road, yet at the southern tip of the park, at the spot most distanced from the palace. Additionally, the estate could be accessed through one of four garden wall gates from the side of the spa and the seashore, allowing easy communication with the guest villas and a walk on the beach.

[36] Just like in other parks, André designed a picturesque main perimeter avenue offering an opportunity for a ride around the whole park and the view of its most beautiful spots and sights. A shorter though also gently winding road led from the main entrance directly to the palace. The network of roads boasted a typical layout of a so-called calligraphic style, occasionally defined as 'bagel-shaped'.

[37] Raising a hill and forming it into a regular, almost rectangle-shaped earthwork terrace with a retaining wall from the front, with stairs and a balustrade, was meant to form an appropriate architectural setting (Fig. 9). The parterre stretching out in front of the palace’s garden elevation covered a relatively small area: Along the main axis towards the palace, a long and wide lawn was placed featuring a pool in the centre; it was contoured by edge flower beds, along whose sides two parallel walkways for pedestrians led to the palace. The wheeled vehicle access was possible by two symmetrical arching roads which ran around the French formal garden, ending in two driveways on the ramps reaching the palace terrace from the lateral elevations.

9 Palanga (Połąga), palace and park from above, photograph before 1939 (© Instytut Sztuki PAN in Warsaw)

[38] By the palace’s southern back elevation, a formal rose garden, rosarium, was laid out. Shaped in a semi-circle, its base edged on the steep grassed escarpment of the palace terrace. A path ran around the semi-circle; additionally, paths radiated from the base centre where a small semi-circular flower bed was formed. Around the rose garden an extensive lawn constituted an optical transfer to the landscape part of the park.

[39] The landscape section of the park was planned in such a way that the major attractions were placed in the northern and western portions, while the food gardens were located in the southern and southeast portions. One of the most interesting elements of the park, Birut Mount, that had existed before, was used as an observation deck, while its slope served to create a grotto.

[40] A certain controversy resulted from the fact that the Mount was venerated by the local population because of the legend of Kęstutis and Birutė, thus associated with a pagan cult. At its top, at the instigation of the local vicar, a Catholic chapel, designed by Karl Mayer, a Prussian builder from Klaipeda, was raised already in 1869. While the garden was being designed, a decision was made for one more Catholic symbol to be added there. In the stone grotto, a copy of the sculpture of Our Lady of Lourdes was placed; the statue had for one night stayed at the miraculous grotto in France. By the same token, the grotto in the rock, an element of park decoration known for centuries, gained a new dimension in Palanga, becoming a place of Catholic cult. Apart from the grotto arranged in the northern slope of the hill, André meticulously elaborated the ascend on wooden stairs to the hill top and the terrace surrounding the chapel, the terrace having been framed with a low wall of natural boulders. Three protruding observation decks facing the sea allowed to admire distant views.

[41] To the northeast of the palace, not far from the avenue directly connecting the palace with the main gateway, quite a large irregular pond with a rocky isle in the middle and bridges connecting it with the opposite banks were created (Fig. 10). Thinning of the existing woodlot in the vicinity of the palace was conducted, thus opening views from the palace windows of the sea and the pond with the picturesque isle to be admired. On the southern bank of the coast a small hill with an observation arbour was raised, hiding the ice house, while on the other side of the hill tennis courts were laid out. On an octagonal layout, the arbour featured walls glazed in the upper part and a hip roof resting on protruding corbels.

10 Palanga (Połąga), the pond in Birutė park, photograph by Paulina Mongird, postcard before 1914 (repr. from the manuscript of: Potocka, Teki rodzinne. vol. 3, 124 © Warsaw, National Library, Ms. Collection, cat. no. 10114)

[42] To the southeast of the palace, already in the landscape park section, a flower garden was laid out, adjacent to the gardener’s house and the building of, possibly, an orangery. The garden was designed in a regular way and meant to serve two functions: it could constitute a nice stroll destination; yet it also served to grow flowers to decorate the palace interiors. Further on, in the farming section of the park, there were frames, greenhouses, vegetable gardens, and minor farm buildings. Only the stable and coach houses were placed in the northwest section of the park, not far from the access avenue to the palace.

[43] The selection of plants for the whole park, described in detail by René André, had been meticulously adjusted to both Palanga’s soil and climate.65 First of all, the character of the local nature was respected, thus pine trees were mainly planted in the seashore park. Besides, André made attempts to introduce specimens from other geographical zones, though featuring a similar severe climate. Not all of those were successful, however many plants, e.g. Alpine, took root in Palanga’s marine climate. What the designer valued much was the plants’ quick growth, obviously taken into consideration in the course of their selection.

[44] Moreover, André may have designed so-called small architectural facilities. By the main gateway a small house of the caretaker was raised. He also may have created the observation arbour: an octagonal wooden kiosk with a multi-hipped roof. André considered naturalism in the designs of minor elements essential in a park, therefore the steps of stairs on the paths in the landscaped park were given a form of cement-moulded tree roots, while benches and lamp posts were based on plinths in the form of unworked rocks. On one of the man-made mounts an arbour was put: a so-called mushroom that resembled a thatched umbrella, supported on the crown of an appropriately pruned tree with outstretched branches, and a bench encircling the trunk.

[45] The Tyszkiewiczs, already on their own account, completed the park’s composition with a massive statue of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the version with Jesus’ arms outstretched in blessing, this located on the axis in front of the palace on the lawn’s edge (Fig. 11). The figure, imported from one of the Paris workshops designing devotional objects, was put in its place in the early 20th century, anticipating the raising of the palace chapel in 1908.66 Located in an extremely exposed place in front of the palace, the figure welcoming visitors with its gesture of blessing has constituted until this very day one of the most poignant dominants in the whole ensemble.

11 Palanga (Połąga), statue of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, photograph before 1914 (repr. from the manuscript of: Potocka, Teki rodzinne, vol. 3, 148 © Warsaw, National Library, Ms. Collection, cat. no. 10114)

[46] When the park’s design was being implemented, several minor corrections were introduced, e.g. the course of some secondary paths was changed. It is, however, difficult to have a more detailed comparative analysis, since over the last hundred years thorough changes have occurred in the park, particularly as a result of negligence during WW II and the first years of the Soviet rule, painstakingly overcome only in the early 1960s when the park, having been classified as a botanic garden, had a research centre established on the premises.67

[47] In the Palanga park André was able to apply a classical scheme of a large-scale garden in the mixed style, with the calligraphic network of roads he had worked out throughout the years of his practise. The location of gateways, marking out the main avenues, and the allocation of particular elements of the ensemble, catering for the extensive usage and farming programme of the Birut Park, does not differ in any element from the earlier solutions of the designer, known from his publications.

[48] However, a certain novelty can be seen in the modest rose garden, laid out by the garden elevation of the palace. The concept of a precisely planned garden, dedicated to one flower kind was a genuine accomplishment André worked out on a special request by Jules Gravereaux, a great rose lover and collector of its many varieties, for his garden at L’Haÿ.68 Rose gardens, created before that, generally in parks that were botanic gardens, had actually singled out roses, yet their arrangement had remained simple within flower bed planting, emphasizing more the educational rather than aesthetical aspects. If they were treated in a more decorative way, as e.g. in the Royal Garden of Laeken in Belgium, the exposure needs of those flowers there were taken into consideration only to a little degree.

[49] It was for L’Haÿ that André worked out a totally new concept of the exposure of different rose varieties. That particular rosarium was planned in a way that permitted a "theatre-like" planting of specimens grouped in view of their height, blooming season, and colour effects, accessible thanks to an intricate network of avenues. The L’Haÿ rosarium’s design was created in 1899, and soon after that André published a series of articles on this garden type in Revue horticole. It has not been ascertained when the Palanga design was worked out, yet it must have been in 1898 at the latest, therefore the Palanga rosarium, certainly far more modest than that at L’Haÿ, may have been a kind of an assay for André working on a bigger and more prestigious project. André himself introduced the rosarium to the canon of a large residence park.69

[50] Another major commission Édouard André was given by Feliks Tyszkiewicz was to lay out the area of the so-called spa resort. The northern limit of the area was demarcated by the Rąża river, the eastern one by Memel street (currently Vytautas street), the western one by the seashore, while the southern one by the line of the Birute park surrounding Feliks Tyszkiewicz’s residence (open to the resort patients). The plans of the spa facility may have been created in 1898 or 1899.70

[51] The designs for the layout of the Palanga resort remain unknown, and today’s buildings in this part of the town do not permit to see the genuine concept of its author, which actually may not have been consistently implemented. The oldest part of the ensemble, covering the court garden of the Tyszkiewiczs within Kurhauzowa, Memelska, Sienkiewicza, and Morska streets (Basanavičiaus, Vytauto, Simpsono, and Daukanto respectively), filled with the villas that were Feliks Tyszkiewicz’s property, has most likely remained unchanged. André’s planning regarded first of all the northwestern part of the resort. Its elements can be discerned even today in the fan-like marking out of the streets, radiating from a small square at the junction of Biruty (Birutites alėja) and Jagiellońska (Gedimino g.) streets, as well as the course of Ogińskiego and Rejmonta streets (today both bearing no names). The course of these streets does not coincide with the parcelling principles assumed in the 1877 plan. In the new marking out the clear intention was that of introducing some sea vistas, taking into account the already existing villa development, fortunately loose enough to be adjusted to the new urban layout. – The choice of André was a good one: his versatile experience in designing various park complexes included not only urban parks and private residence gardens, but also resort parks, e.g. in Mondorf-les-Bains (Luxembourg), established from 1886 onwards.

Užutrakis (Zatrocze)

[52] At Užutrakis, similarly as in Palanga, there was no palace almost until the end of the 19th century, and from 1867 the estate belonged to the Tyszkiewiczs.71 It was only Józef Tyszkiewicz and his wife Jadwiga, née Światopołk-Czetwertyński, that launched the construction of an elegant palace there, whose design was commissioned from the well-known Polish architect Józef Huss (1846–1904).72 The residence was raised in 1897–1901. René André’s first note related to the Užutrakis park is dated January 1898; it mentions plans for a trip to visit Józef Tyszkiewicz or with him.73 A photograph showing Édouard André with his son on a ferry to Užutrakis taken in 1898 during the stay of both designers in Lithuania has been preserved.74 In the letter of 21 June 1898, René André recalls the palace "begun the previous year", while on 27 June, he writes: "De Landvarovo, nous sommes retournés à Užutrakis où nous avions à terminer des tracés et des percées […]. De Zatroczé on nous a conduits à Vilna pour choisir des arbres."75 Some light on the visit to Vilnius is shed, in turn, by the note in René André’s diary where he speaks of four large plants for the corners of the central flower bed, four others for the lateral flower beds, four vases to be placed on the side flower beds, and additionally of two large boxwood plants.76 René also records Édouard’s visit to Užutrakis on 12 May and 4 October 1899, and mentions the reception of a telegram from Józef Tyszkiewicz on 1 April 1901.

[53] When looking at the dates, it becomes clearly noticeable that the three Tyszkiewicz brothers started the construction of their new residences exactly at the same time, therefore it is quite likely that André received the commissions to design the parks almost simultaneously. The design for the Užutrakis park was created not before 1896 and in 1898 at the latest, while the works that lasted for several years may have been completed in around 1900–1901.

[54] According to Potocka’s memoirs:

André has skilfully taken advantage of Zatrocze’s natural location, and has created a beautiful park, harmonizing with the palace’s style, thus placing the French section by the house, and using the wood for the English one. By the house: lawns. Parterres decorated with flower beds, with terraces. Stone benches, tastefully located statues added glimmer and splendour. The forest turned into an English park, with clearings, numerous avenues, paths winding in different directions. Including on the lake. The avenue one and a half km long, leading from the ferry to the palace, was impressive.77

[55] Užutrakis is located on a long promontory cutting in from the north between the Lakes Galve and Skaistis. The southern end of the promontory, cut from the northern one with a waterway network made up of canals and a so-called great lake, was allocated to serve the purpose of the residence and the park ensemble. The palace was raised on the high western shore of the promontory, and thanks to it from the windows of the residence and the observation deck arranged in front of the back elevation there was a breathtaking view of the lake, the island, and, first and foremost, of the Trakai island castle. The palace faced east with its façade. In front of the back elevation an extensive terrace supported on a high plinth with a baluster railing adorned with vases was arranged (Fig. 12). Originally, in the corners of the terrace quite clumsy stocky gloriettes with cupola roofs based on four columns were placed; damaged during WW I, they were dismantled.78