Georges-Louis Le Rouge

(c1707 - 1793/94)

Born in Hannover in Germany, Georges-Louis le Rouge was probably the son of French architect Louis Remy de La Fosse, who supervised his education and raised him to be an engineer and architect. He began his cartographical career in the 1730s, becoming “ingenieur geographe du Roi”. In spite of publishing a number of important maps, mostly after the original work of others, and paid for by wealthy patrons, or public funds, Le Rouge barely maintained himself, and supplemented his income by working as a military engineer and landscape designer.

Between 1733 and 1735, Le Rouge worked as an “ingénieur géographe” – geographical engineer – for the Comte de Clermont, an officer in the French army, serving in Germany in the War of Polish Succession (1733-1738); and the earliest map attributed to him, a map of Alsace, appeared during that time. Through a series of successful appointments as a military surveyor, Le Rouge rose through the ranks, enabling him to settle in Paris by 1741, and enter into the realm of commercial cartography.

For the next nearly forty years, from his own press, Le Rouge specialized in producing maps and plans that described the “Theatre de Guerre”, or battle-plans, that were designed to show the civilian public the current state of French military campaigns.

In 1748, Le Rouge published his Atlas Nouveau Portatif a l’Usage des Militaires, Colleges et du Voyageur…, a smallish atlas designed to be useful to both military and private travelers; an accompanying geographical treatise, Introduction a la Geographie; and began conducting private surveys for wealthy landowners.

In 1768, as a result of interest in the outcome of the French and Indian War, Le Rouge turned to publishing maps of North America. This was a project that would eventually culminate in a comprehensive portrait of the northeast North America during the Revolutionary War by both land and sea, with the publication of his Atlas Ameriquain Septentrional, and Pilote Americain Septentrional, (1778-1779).

Also, in 1768, Le Rouge began to take advantage of the surge in residential development within and around Paris and supplement his inventory with engravings of garden designs, which had a wider appeal and were less transient subjects than “Theatre de Guerre”.

Over nearly fifteen years, Georges-Louis le Rouge published his monumental, and some would argue, his magnum opus, the Détail des nouveaux jardins à la mode (1775-1789), in twenty-one parts, with nearly five hundred plates, representing seventy-two French gardens. He supplemented them with illustrations of gardens in Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, and nearly one hundred of gardens belonging to the emperor of China.