Jardin Majorelle, a Magical Place in Marrakech

After having discovered La Mamounia Hotel, let’s relate the history of an other moroccan treasure. In 1919 French painter Jacques Majorelle, son of the famous artist Louis Majorelle, took up in the medina of Marrakech, a city he’d fallen in love with. Three years later he would purchase a palm grove to the northwest of the medina, and in 1931 he would have his Mauresque-style villa built there by Paul Sinoir. He installed his primary living quarters on the first floor and a vast artist’s workshop on the ground floor. A botanical enthusiast, he created his garden, structured around a large central basin, with a variety of different ambiances, inhabited by luxuriant greenery where hundreds of birds would alight. Adorned with fountains, basins, water streams, ceramic jars, Jacques Majorelle said: “The painter has the modesty of taking this enclosure of floral greens for his most beautiful work.” He speaks of it as being “vast splendors who’s harmony I orchestrated. This garden is a formidable task to which I lend myself entirely. It will take my final years from me and I shall fall, exhausted, under its branches after having given it all my love.” Throughout his travels, the artist became a gardener and brought back hundreds of varieties of rare trees and plants from the four corners of the Earth, all of which now flourish here somewhere between the light and the shadows.

In 1937, the painter created a bright and intense ultramarine; called Majorelle blue, he would cover the walls of his workshop with it, then the whole garden to make a living painting that he would open up to the public in 1947.

At the end of his life, after having had to dismantle it several times, Jacques was forced to sell whatever he had left. The garden was left in disarray and eventually fell into decrepitude. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé would discover it in 1966 during their first trip to Marrakech: “We were seduced by this oasis where the colors of Matisse mixed with the colors of nature.” This is the same Marrakech where YSL would conceive his most beautiful collections, including the 1976’s one.

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