Hortus Conclusus: Garden Litanies by Gabrielle de Lassus Saint Geniès

Nélida Nassar  12.07.2017

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Watercolors by Pascal Brault
Foreword by Jean-Paul Guerlain
Book Launch: Thursday 16 November 2017

Hortus Conclusus, a collaboration of Gabrielle de Lassus Saint-Geniès and watercolorist Pascal Brault, is a rhythmic celebration consisting of 630 quatrains and forty original watercolors of unusual freshness. Its fruits, plants and flowers invite the reader to discover in word and image a spiritual and inspiring botany and to experience an awakening to the world of plants.

This vocal herbarium, which seems to come straight out of an ancient book of magic spells, with hemistichs resonating almost perfectly with the great tradition of the writers of the Pléaide, traverses the ages, making reference to Greek and Roman mythology, medieval Christianity, but also to the nineteenth century, with its opulent gardens and walks along the river at the moment when spring offers its greatest array of perfumes.

Prefaced by none other than Jean-Paul Guerlain, the “nose” of the Maison Guerlain, everything in this book is concentrated or, rather, “bottled.” Every page reveals many doors to a sacred garden leading the reader toward the sublime and the subtle.

204 pages of complete pleasure! Hortus Conclusus is an essential book for (poetry), botany and garden lovers. 

Contributors to Hortus Conclusus
Gabrielle de Lassus Saint-Geniès, a poet and writer, studied art history at the Sorbonne and at Sussex University in Brighton. While earning a doctorate in art history at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, she was resident for a time at the Maison Française in Oxford. She continues to do research on British and European art of the nineteenth century, on the mystical, allegorical and heroic representations of women, and, in particular, on botanical symbolism. Composed of over 600 quatrains, Hortus Conclusus is the first publication of her poems.

Pascal Brault is a member of the French Society of Botanical Illustration, a botanical watercolorist, and a stylist at Chanel. It was during his artistic studies that he met Karl Lagerfeld and became his collaborator. Agathe Haevermans, the scientific illustrator at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, helped him discover his botanical passion.

Jean-Paul Guerlain trained as a “nose” under the guidance of his grandfather Jacques Guerlain, who was then over 75 years old, and soon, in 1955, he joined the Guerlain family business as an expert. Able to recognize 3,000 olfactory nuances, for half a century he created many famous perfumes for the Maison Guerlain. Currently, he is collaborating with the new perfumery “My Exclusive Collection” in the creation of a collection of new fragrances. Passionate about the arts, he is particularly interested in poetry, Orientalist painting, and equestrian art in all its forms.

Grand duc des falbalas et des grenouilles,
Vraiment Nénuphar quand vas-tu fleurir ?
L’étang est suspendu à ton sourire
Sous l’oeil jaloux des saumâtres gargouilles.

Au Café de Flore flânent les Hortensias,
Le journal ouvert sous leurs lunettes-scalpels,
Mais aux Deux Magots draguent les Hydrangeas,
Journal clos sous leurs lorgnons d’intellectuels.

At the Café de Flore stroll the Hydrangeas,
The newspaper opened under their glasses-scalpels, But the
Two Magots dredge the Hydrangeas, closed newspaper
Under their glasses of intellectuals.

Grand duc des falbalas et des grenouilles,
Vraiment Nénuphar quand vas-tu fleurir ?
L’étang est suspendu à ton sourire
Sous l’oeil jaloux des saumâtres gargouilles.

Nymphaea caerulea
Furbels and Frogs Grand Duke,
Really Water Lily when are you going to bloom?
The pond is suspended to your smile
Under the brackish gargoyles jealous eyes.