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ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9






Meanwhile, the foundations of Baroque classicism in architecture were laid by a group of designers whose most distinguished member was Francois Mansart  
(1598-1666). Apparently he never visited Italy, but other French architects had already imported and acclimatized some aspects of the Roman Early Baroque, especially in church design, so that Mansart was not unfamiliar with the new Italian style. What he owed to it, however, is hard to determine. His most important buildings are chateaux, and in this field the French Renaissance tradition outweighed any direct Italian Baroque influences. The Chateau of Maisons near Paris, built for a newly risen administrative official, shows Mansart's mature style at its best. The vestibule leading to the grand staircase (fig. 813) has a particularly beautiful effect, severe yet festive. On seeing the classically pure articulation of the walls, one first thinks of Palladio, whose treatise Mansart certainly knew and admired. But sculpture is used here in the characteristically French way as an integral part of architectural design. The complex curves of the vaulting further inform us that this structure, for all its classicism, belongs to the Baroque.

813. Francois Mansart.
Vestibule, Chateau of Maisons.


François Mansart

François Mansart, Mansart also spelled Mansard (born January 1598, Paris—died September 1666), architect important for establishing classicism in Baroque architecture in mid-17th-century France. His buildings are notable for their subtlety, elegance, and harmony. His most complete surviving work is the château of Maisons.

Early years and works.
Mansart was the grandson of a master mason and the son of a master carpenter. One of his uncles was a sculptor, another an architect. When his father died in 1610, Mansart’s training was taken over by his brother-in-law, an architect and sculptor. Later, Mansart was apprenticed to and heavily influenced by Salomon de Brosse, a distinguished and successful architect during the reign of Henry IV and the regency of Marie de Médicis, mother of Louis XIII.

The 1600s, which saw the end of de Brosse’s career and the beginning of Mansart’s, could not have been more favourable for a young architect. Henry IV’s entrance into Paris in 1594 as king of France signaled the beginning of a period of burgeoning political and social aspiration. Architecture reflected this aspiration, for the kings wanted their capital and their palaces to reflect the power of the crown; and the bourgeoisie commissioned châteaus (country houses) and hotels (town mansions) large enough for their coaches, stables of horses, and retinue of servants and splendid enough to receive the king and his entourage.

Most of Mansart’s patrons were members of the middle class who had become rich in the service of the crown. They would have to have been very rich indeed to be Mansart’s patrons. Not only did he draw up plans without regard to expense but he also refined and improved the plans—tearing down what had been built and rebuilding—as he went along. According to a contemporary, Mansart had cost one of his early patrons “more money than the Great Turk himself possesses.”

Mansart’s career can be traced from 1623, when he designed the facade of the chapel of the church of the Feuillants in the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris (no longer standing). Of his early works, the only one that survives is the château of Balleroy (begun c. 1626), near Bayeux, in the département of Calvados. Built for Jean de Choisy, chancellor to Gaston, duc d’Orléans, the brother of Louis XIII, the château consists of three blocks—a massive, free-standing main building to which two small pavilions are subordinated. One of the facades of the main building overlooks a court, the other a garden. The materials and treatment of the walls are characteristic of much of the work built during the reign of Henry IV. The walls are mainly of rough, brownish yellow brick with little architectural ornament but emphasized by white stone quoins (corners) and white stone frames around the windows.

In 1635 Gaston commissioned Mansart to reconstruct his château at Blois, which had been built in the 15th and 16th centuries and used as a royal residence by three kings. Mansart proposed rebuilding it entirely, but only the north wing facing the gardens was reconstructed. The main building, flanked by pavilions, is subtly articulated by superimposed classical orders (Doric on the ground floor, Ionic on the first, and Corinthian on the second). The court entrance to the main building is approached on both sides by a curving colonnade. Mansart used the high-pitched, two-sloped roof that bears his name, mansard. (In fact, the roof had been used by earlier French architects.) The details are precise and restrained, the proportions of the masses harmonious.

In the same period, Phélypeaux de La Vrillière, an officer of the crown, commissioned Mansart to build a town house in Paris (rebuilt after Mansart’s death). The building, known from engravings, was a fine example of Mansart’s ability to arrive at subtle, ingenious, and dignified solutions to the problems of building on awkwardly shaped sites.

The château of Maisons.
In 1642 René de Longeuil, an immensely wealthy financier and officer of the royal treasury, commissioned Mansart to build a château on his estate. The château of Maisons (now called Maisons-Laffitte, in the chief town of the département of Yvelines) is unique in that it is the only building by Mansart in which the interior decoration (graced particularly by a magnificent stairway) survives. The symmetrical design of the building (as well as the mansard roof) is similar to that of Mansart’s earlier châteaus, but here there is a greater emphasis on relief. The central building is a free-standing block with a prominent rectangular frontispiece that projects from the main wall in a series of shallow steps. Two short wings, flanking the main building, stand out from it in clean, unbroken rectangular sections. Extending from each of the wings is a low, one-story block. The restrained play of subtly differentiated rectangular motifs lends grace and harmony.

Because it is now surrounded by roads and houses, one can only imagine how noble the château looked, in the setting of terraced gardens designed for it by Mansart, when it opened with a reception for Anne of Austria and her son, the boy-king Louis XIV. At times during the château’s construction, de Longeuil must have been sorely tried by Mansart’s stubborn, independent, generally difficult personality, but on this day he was surely pleased with the architect he had chosen.

Last years.
Perhaps Mansart’s personality was responsible for the setbacks he began to encounter, the first of which was a royal commission he received in 1645 and lost in 1646. Anne of Austria asked Mansart to draw up plans for the convent and church of the Val-de-Grâce in Paris, which the sovereign had vowed to build if she bore a son. When the costs of laying the foundation exceeded the funds provided, Mansart was replaced by Jacques Lemercier, who more or less followed the original plans.

Along with a large fortune, Mansart had accumulated many enemies who accused him of capriciousness in the building and rebuilding of his projects, of wild extravagance, and of dishonesty. In 1651 a pamphlet entitled “La Mansarade” (possibly written by political enemies of the prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, for whom Mansart had worked) accused him of having made deals with contractors and charged him with profligacy. The attack did not prevent him from continuing to work for prominent people.

With the accession of Louis XIV to the throne in 1661, private patrons became fewer and fewer. Architects, painters, sculptors, and craftsmen were called upon to build, decorate, and furnish structures commissioned by the king. When, in 1664, Louis decided to complete the palace of the Louvre, his chief minister and surintendant des bâtiments (roughly, “superintendent of buildings”), Jean-Baptiste Colbert, asked Mansart to draw up plans for the east wing (the colonnaded wing). Possibly because he could not produce and keep to any final plan, Mansart lost the commission.

In 1665 Colbert again asked Mansart to produce designs—this time for a chapel for the tombs of the royal family of the Bourbons to be built at the end of the Saint-Denis basilica. Mansart planned his design (which was never executed) around a central, domed space, which later inspired his grandnephew Jules Hardouin-Mansart in his design for the dome of the church of Les Invalides.

When Mansart died the world was quite different from the one in which his career had begun. France had become the centre of Europe and Louis the centre of France—not only politically but also in matters of culture and taste. French architects, artists, and craftsmen were trained and employed by the crown for one end: the glorification of the state in the person of the king, who had declared himself to be the state. But the world was different, too, in that it had been enriched by the work of the independent and individualistic genius of François Mansart.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Church of Val-de-Grace

Chateau de Maisons

Chateau de Balleroy

Façade principale de l’hotel de Toulouse


Mansart died too soon to have a share in the climactic phase of Baroque classicism, ft began with the first great project Colbert directed, the completion of the Louvre. Work on the palace had proceeded intermittently for over a century, along the lines of Lescot's design (see fig.
735). What remained to be done was to close the square court on the east side with an impressive facade. Colbert, dissatisfied with the proposals of French architects, invited Bernini to Paris in the hope that the most famous master of the Roman Baroque would do for the French king what he had already done so magnificently for the Church. Bernini spent several months in Paris in 1665 and submitted three designs, all of them on a scale that would have completely engulfed the existing palace. After much argument and intrigue, Louis XIV rejected these plans and turned over the problem of a final solution to a committee of three: Charles Lebrun, his court painter; Louis Le Vau (1612-1670), his court architect, who had worked on the project before; and Claude Perrault (1613-1688), who was a student of ancient architecture, not a professional architect. All three were responsible for the structure that was actually built (fig. 814), although Perrault is usually credited with the major share.

The design in some ways suggests the mind of an archaeologist, but one who knew how to select those features of classical architecture that would link Louis XIV with the glory of the Caesars and still be compatible with the older parts of the palace. The center pavilion is a Roman temple front, and the wings look like the flanks of that temple folded outward. The temple theme demanded a single order of free-standing columns, but the Louvre had three stones. This difficulty was skillfully resolved by treating the ground story as the podium of the temple and recessing the upper two behind the screen of the colonnade. The entire design combines grandeur and elegance in a way that fully justifies its fame. The East Front of the Louvre signaled the victory of French classicism over Italian Baroque as the royal style. Ironically, this great example proved too pure, and Perrault soon faded from favor.

814. Claude Perrault. East Front of the Louvre, Paris. 1667-70

Claude Perrault. East Front of the Louvre, Paris. 1667-70


Claude Perrault

Claude Perrault, (born Sept. 25, 1613, Paris, France—died Oct. 9, 1688, Paris), French physician and amateur architect who, together with Louis Le Vau, Charles Le Brun, and François d’Orbay, designed the eastern facade of the Louvre.

Perrault’s training was in mathematics and medicine, and he was a practicing physician. He was elected a member of the newly founded Academy of Sciences in 1666, and in 1673 he produced a renowned French annotated translation of Vitruvius’s architectural treatise. Claude’s brother, Charles, was assistant to J.-B. Colbert, the superintendent of works under Louis XIV, and Charles saw to it that Claude, who had little practical experience, was appointed to the three-man commission responsible for the rebuilding of the Louvre.

Claude Perrault collaborated in the final design of the Colonnade, a massive row of paired columns that rises above the unadorned first story and dominates the majestic east facade of the Louvre. Perrault claimed responsibility for this design, but it is now thought that he collaborated on it with Le Vau and d’Orbay and helped solve the engineering problems associated with the Colonnade’s construction. Perrault was probably the designer of the Paris Observatory, which still stands.

Perrault’s foremost scientific pursuit was as a director of a team that performed dissections on various animals; his death is attributed to a disease contracted while dissecting a camel.

Encyclopædia Britannica


815. Louis Le Vau and Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Garden Front, center block, Palace of Versailles. 1669-85



Louis Le Vau

Louis Le Vau (1612 – 11 October 1670) was a French Classical architect who worked for Louis XIV of France.[1] He was born and died in Paris.

He was responsible, with André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun, for the redesign of the château of Vaux-le-Vicomte. His later works included the Palace of Versailles and his collaboration with Claude Perrault on the Palais du Louvre. Le Vau also designed two mirroring additions across the Parterre to the evergrowing Château de Vincennes, the Château du Raincy, the Hotel Tambonneau, the Collège des Quatre-Nations (now housing the Institut de France), the church of St. Sulpice, and Hôtel Lambert, on the Île Saint-Louis, Paris.



The king's largest enterprise was the Palace of Versailles, located If miles from the center of Paris. It was begun in 1669 by Le Vau, who designed the elevation of the Garden Front (fig. 815) but died within a year. Under Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708), a great-nephew of Franfois Mansart, the entire project was greatly expanded to accommodate the ever-growing royal household. The Garden Front, intended by Le Vau to be the principal view of the palace, was stretched to an enormous length with no modification of the architectural membering, so that his original facade design, a less severe variant of the East Front of the Louvre, now looks repetitious and out of scale. The whole center block contains a single room, the famous Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors, fig. 816), with the Salon de la Guerre (War) and its counterpart, the Salon de la Paix (Peace), at either end.

Baroque features, although not officially acknowledged, reappeared inside the Palace of Versailles. This shift corresponded to the king's own taste. Louis XIV was interested less in architectural theory and monumental exteriors than in the lavish interiors that would make suitable settings for himself and his court. Thus the man to whom he really listened was not an architect, but the painter Le Brun. Lebrun's goal was in itself Baroque: to subordinate all the arts to the glorification of Louis XIV. To accomplish it, he drew freely on his memories of Rome. Although a disciple of Poussin, Lebrun must have been impressed by the great decorative schemes of the Baroque, for they stood him in good stead 20 years later, both in the Louvre and at Versailles. He became a superb decorator, utilizing the combined labors of architects, sculptors, painters, and artisans for ensembles of unheard-of splendor. The Salon de la Guerre at Versailles (fig. 817) is closer in many ways to the Cornaro Chapel than to the vestibule at Maisons (compare figs. 769 and 813). If his ensemble is less adventurous than Bernini's, Lebrun has emphasized surface decoration just as much. And, as in so many Italian Baroque interiors, the separate ingredients are less impressive than the effect of the whole.

816. Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Le Brun, and Coysevox. Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), Palace of Versailles
817. Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Le Brun, and Coysevox. Salon de la Guerre, Palace of Versailles. Begun


Apart from the magnificent interior, the most impressive aspect of Versailles is the park extending west of the Garden Front for several miles (fig. 818). Its design, by Andre Le Notre (1613-1700), is so strictly correlated with the plan of the palace that it becomes a continuation of the architectural space. Like the interiors, these formal gardens, with their terraces, basins, clipped hedges, and statuary, were meant to provide an appropriate setting for the king's appearances in public. They form a series of "outdoor rooms" for the splendid fetes and spectacles that Louis XIV so enjoyed. The spirit of absolutism is even more striking in this geometric regularity imposed upon an entire countryside than it is in the palace itself.

818. Charles Riviere. Perspective View of the Chateau and Gardens of Versailles. Lithograph.


At Versailles, Jules Hardouin-Mansart worked as a member of a team, constrained by the design of Le Vau. His own architectural style can be better seen in the Church of the Invalides (figs. 819 and 820), named after the institution for disabled soldiers of which it formed one part. The building presents a combination of Italian Renaissance and Baroque features, but reinterpreted in a distinctly French manner. The plan, consisting of a Greek cross with four corner chapels, is based ultimately (with various French intermediaries) on Michelangelo's plan for St. Peter's (see fig. 661); its only Baroque element is the oval choir. The dome, too, reflects the influence of Michelangelo (figs. 660 and 662), and the classicistic vocabulary of the facade is reminiscent of the East Front of the Louvre, but the exterior as a whole is unmistakably Baroque. It breaks forward repeatedly in the crescendo effect introduced by Maderno (see fig. 754). And, as in Borromini's S. Agnese in Yiuzm Navona (see fig. 761), the facade and dome are closely correlated. The dome itself is the most original, and the most Baroque, feature of Hardouin-Mansart's design. Tall and slender, it rises in one continuous curve from the base of the drum to the spire atop the lantern. On the first drum rests, surprisingly, a second, narrower drum. Its windows provide light for the painted vision of heavenly glory inside the dome, but they themselves are hidden behind a "pseudo-shell" with a large opening at the top, so that the heavenly glory seems mysteriously illuminated and suspended in space. "Theatrical" lighting so boldly directed would do honor to any Italian Baroque architect.

819. Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Church of the Invalides, Paris. 1680-91
Plan of the Church of the Invalides

Jules Hardouin-Mansart
. Church of the Invalides, Paris. (detail)



Jules Hardouin-Mansart

Jules Hardouin-Mansart, (born , c. April 16, 1646 Paris, Fr.—died May 11, 1708, Marly-le-Roi), French architect and city planner to King Louis XIV who completed the design of Versailles.

Mansart in 1668 adopted the surname of his granduncle by marriage, the distinguished architect François Mansart. By 1674, when he was commissioned to rebuild the château of Clagny for Louis XIV’s mistress Madame de Montespan, he was already launched on a brilliant career. Among his earlier achievements were many private houses, including his own, the Hôtel de Lorges, later the Hôtel de Conti.

In 1675 Mansart became official architect to the king and from 1678 was occupied with redesigning and enlarging the palace of Versailles. He directed a legion of collaborators and protégés, many of whom became the leading architects of the following age. Starting from plans of architect Louis Le Vau, Mansart built the new Hall of Mirrors, the Orangerie, the Grand Trianon, and the north and south wings. At the time of his death he was working on the chapel. The vast complex, with an exquisite expanse of gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, was a harmonious expression of French Baroque classicism and a model that other courts of Europe sought to emulate.

Although occupied with this enormous project for much of his life, Mansart built many other public buildings, churches, and sumptuous houses. Thought to be most reflective of his individual ability to combine classical and Baroque architectural design is the chapel of Les Invalides, Paris. Admirable contributions to city planning include his Place Vendôme and Place des Victoires, Paris.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Jules Hardouin-Mansart
. Place Vendome in Paris

Jules Hardouin-Mansart
. Grand Trianon in Versailles


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