WHEN within the space of comparatively few years, a vast change takes place in the art of a nationan apparent cleavage wide and deepexperience teaches us that the change is not as rapid as it seems, but has come about by degrees from many causes. Patient and temperate observation shows us links that maintain the reasonable continuity of thought. We discover that the chain is never brokenthe gulf always bridged. Humanity sweeps onward ceaselessly along the road that leads now to some more perfect, more gracious halting place, now through some arid waste, now into a confused and misty valley, now to the purity and severity of lofty heights. But onwards it sweeps always. The transition is gradual. The gardens of the house-beautiful merge gradually into the waste. The waste sinks gently into the misty valley with its manifold purpose. The valley rises by slow and imperceptible degrees to the lofty height. There is no sharp cut, arbitrary line that divides the one from the other. If we will but search patiently, we are certain to find the bridge that leads from one apparently clear cut group or impulse to the next.
No two ideals in art could seem farther apartseparated by a more absolute cleavagethan Gothic and Renaissance Architecture. Yet one of the most deeply interesting phenomena I know, is the connecting link between the two periods, supplied by the Architecture of the reign of Louis XII. Three examples will suffice to show how perfectly it unites the spirit and genius of bothhow closely the two are knit together by this transition period.
The first example is the Façade of the Chateau of Blois, built in 1501. Here, in the great 13th century Hall, we get an example of pure and stately Gothic. And in the magnificent north wing of François I. an unsurpassed example of the richest Renaissance. The Façade of the Eastern Wing, by which the Chateau is entered, only faintly suggests the coming change by its square-headed windows under crocketted and pinnacled Gothic dormers. On the inner face of the wing, the Renaissance is more clearly shown. The arcade through which the courtyard is entered is composed of round pillars encrusted with fleur-de-lys and ermines’ tails in a stone network, alternating with others of four Renaissance panels set on cornerwisenot four squaresupporting flattened arches of the familiar ” anse de panier ” type of the period. It takes but a moment’s thought to see that this arcade is the link between the Gothic dormers of the Façade, and all the marvels of the Northern Wing.
The second example is the north-west tower of the Cathedral of Chartres. Begun in 1506 by Jean Texier under the patronage of Louis XII., who contributed largely to the expense, it was finished in 1513. At first sight it seems of purely Gothic type, with pointed windows, crocketted pinnacles, flying buttresses, and rich Gothic niches with trefoil-headed canopies and bases, supported perhaps by a delicate pilaster with simple early Gothic capital and square abacus. Then suddenly one comes upon a little balcony on an exterior stairway, panelled with superb Renaissance sculpture in vigorous low reliefa Classic patch, so to speak, among the mass of Gothic work, that would not be out of place in Venice or even in Rome. There is nothing that jars in this great tower and spire. The transition is so natural and gradual that it harmonizes absolutely with that triumph of pure 12th century Gothicthe six-storeyed south-west tower with its imbricated stone steeple, and with the wonderful body of the noble 13th century building.
The third example is the Palais de Justice at Rouen. Built under Louis XII., it is a most interesting specimen of the richest late Gothic architecture, with its carved square-headed windows, its huge gargoyles at the roof line, its rich pinnacled balustrade with panels of roses, crocketted arches and fine detached figures., The lofty dormers against the high-pitched roofs are set in a lacework of stonepinnacles, niches, fleur-de-lys, with figures everywhere, in the tympanum of the windows, in niches on the pinnacles ; and among all the Gothic wealth of ornament, the coming change that found voice a few years later in the sculptures of the Hotel Bourgtheroulde hard by, is suggested by these dainty figures on each side of the dormers, that remind one of the little loves on the dormers and chimneys of Chambord, and by the rose panels of the balustrade.
Far on into the 16th century, into the very heart of the Renaissance, this persistence of the Gothic type is still foundchiefly, it is true, in ecclesiastical buildings. The Church of Saint-Eustache, in Paris, begun in 1532, a Gothic Church with classical details, is an example. So is Saint-Etienne du Mont, Paris. And the Choir Screen at Chartres, begun by Jean Texier in 1514, and finished in the 17th century.
But with regard to domestic architecture, the new ideals of the Renaissance had full sway with the accession of François I. in 1515.
In all the buildings of the Renaissance three portions claim special attention. The roof, the staircase, the chimney-pieces. The rest of the building may be plain, almost stern inside. But on the roof withoutthe staircase and monumental mantelpieces withinthe architect seems to concentrate all his efforts. He lavishes on them not only a wealth of ornament, but allows his imagination to run riot in the most original and fantastic arrangement. Of the roof of Chambord, I will speak in its own place. But the marvel of the Chateau is its famous double spiral staircase, connected at each floor with the four great Salles des Gardes, and crowned outside by the superb lantern. At Blois, the magnificence of the celebrated outside staircase surpasses all else in that most beautiful of royal Chateaux. At Amboise, the spiral staircases are put to a most original use. They are huge, brick-paved stairways, mounting by a gentle slope inside two immense round towers ; enabling the King and his guests to ride their horses from the entrance on the river level to the living rooms of the palace on the top of the cliff.
At Chenonceaux, we get one of the first of the straight staircases in the wall with a waggon roof, of the same type as the Escalier Henri II. of the Louvre, medallions at the crossing of the ribs bearing portrait heads. The same plan is followed at Azay le Rideau : but the ornament is infinitely richer. Here pendants hang at the intersection of the ribs, while the spaces between are filled with medallions and portraits, ermines, salamanders and little loves. These straight, waggon-roofed staircases may be best described as passages of stepsnarrow for their heightmounting in two straight flights,’ with a landing between each floor. The open Escalier d’Honneur of Louis XIII. and Louis XIV. was then practically unknown.
The magnificent mantelpieces are a most important feature of Renaissance buildings. That of the Salle de Diane de Poitiers at Chenonceaux, is a perfect specimen of the earlier period of the Renaissance. So are one or two at Blois. The well-known Cheminee de Villeroy, by Germain Pilon, in the Louvreof which the South Kensington Museum 1 possesses a fine cast, is an example of the later half of the Renaissance. So are two by Hugues Lallemant, now at Clunywith pillars or caryatides on either side of the fire-place, and fine bas-reliefs above surrounded by genii sup-porting trophies of arms, Cupids, dolphins, etc. But every Chateau and Palace of the period affords many splendid specimens, elaborations of the earlier plain Gothic type.
PIERRE LE NEPVEU, dit TRINQUEAU (b. Amboise; cl. 1538), builder of Chambord and Chenonceaux, was a proprietor in Amboise in 1490, and was still living there in 1508, when it is supposed that he worked on the Chateau under the orders of Pierre Martin. Louis XII. employed him at Blois. And it has been commonly supposed that he built the Chapel and the Façade. The difference of style, however, between this façade and that of Chambord and Chenonceaux is so great, that as M. Bauchal points out it is difficult to attribute the work to him.
In 1513 he was entrusted by Thomas Bohier and his wife Catherine Briçonnet, with the building of Chenonceaux, upon which he worked till 1525. And in 1526 François I. confided to him, and to Anthoine de Troyes, the reconstruction of Chambord, which until then was merely a Chateau-fort in the fiat country. The first plans for this magnificent Chateau were made by Domenico da Cortona, who received “900 ” livres tournois de gratification” from the King, for work done, and “patterns and models in wood, as much for the cities ” and chateaux of Tournai and Andres as for the Chateau ” of Chambord “. To Le Nepveu, however, the central staircasethe most original and decorative portion of the buildingis certainly due. It does not appear in Domenico’s model, which was to be seen at Blois in Félibien’s time. In 1536 Anthoine de Troyes became contractor for the work of the pavilions and square towers ; Le Nepveu remaining sole master of the building. He is spoken of in this year as honneste homme Pierre Nepveu dit Trinqueau, maistre de “l’oeuvre de Maçonnerie du batiment du Châtel de Chambord “. He died in 1538. And was succeeded by Jacques Coqueau or Coquereau.
In Chambord, despite the fantastic exuberance of detail which at first is absolutely bewildering, a little study soon shows an underlying unity of purpose, which could only have come from one mind, and that the mind of a master. The towers and pavilions of this well-known Chateau are round. It is in fact a massive Gothic castle. The original plan was the central mass with four towers, measuring 220 feet each way, on the north side of an enormous square court surrounded by buildings. This court was to have four huge round towers, the outside measurement being 520 feet by 390. Two of them are standing, and form parts of the wing of François I. and that of Henri II., which are joined by galleries to the central mass. On the south side of the court, rebuilt by Louis XIV., the bases only of the two corner towers exist, finished by a platform and connected by a long range of one-storey buildings. On the body of the building the Renaissance is shown by square pilasters of the Corinthian order, slightly raised from the surface, with capitals in low relief, dividing the whole into an infinite number of equal panels. Some of these are filled with lofty windows. Others are left plain. The string courses that divide the three storeys are so subdued as hardly to break the surface of the central mass. But the moment we reach the cornice, the wealth of ornament and fantastic caprice begins. Carved brackets support a frieze of shell pattern and deep mouldings, surmounted by the balustrade which forms a wide gallery round the whole central building. Behind the balustrade a flat stone wall runs up some ten feet. And from this rise the great grey slate roofs. Double-storeyed dormers break up through the wall at intervals ; and superb two-storeyed chimneys hanging out on rich and beautiful corbels, shoot high aloft, the white stone of the upper partabove pilasters, and shell-headed niches and a wealth of carved flambeauxornamented with rounds, lozenges, or zigzags of black marble or slate.
The roof rises over each of the four great towers in a cone surmounted by a cupola ; and in square pyramidal masses over the rest. While the crowning marvel of the whole is the ” lantern ” in the centre, over the great central staircase. This lantern is almost entirely open-worktier upon tier of arches, pillars, flying buttresses with enormous cartouches of the salamander, domed cupolas one upon the other supported by light and graceful pillars, each one growing lighter and more airy, till the last is crowned by the huge six-foot stone fleur-de-lys against the sky.
Besides the lofty two-storeyed dormers, and the bewildering forest of chimneys, ” which are more ornamented and ” more ornamental than in any building erected either ” before or since,” the roofs are still further broken by graceful tourelles which spring from the side of the masses nearest the lantern, each finished with a cupola surmounted by a lovely little figure on a high pedestal. The chimneys and dormers are crested with fleurs-de-lys, like foam on a breaking wave. While in the wing of François I. armies of little loves replace the fleur-de-lys, on the crest of the dormers and chimneys of the gallery joining the wing to the central building. And the dome of the Escalier François I. (one of fifty-two staircases in the Chateau) in the angle of the court-yard, is surrounded with a perfect garland of fleurs-de-lys and salamanders, with caryatides below.
Chenonceauxalso the work of Le Nepveuis on a very different scale. Here we find the exquisite Maison de plaisance. Built by a woman, Catherine Briçonnet, while her husband, Thomas Bohier, général des Finances, was superintending the King’s finances during the Italian campaignsChenonceaux has been a favourite residence of distinguished women, of Queens, and royal favourites. Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medicis, Queen Louise, Gabrielle d’Estrées, the Duchesse de Mercoeur, were in possession of this coveted Chateau in rapid succession. While in the 18th century Mme. Dupin gave it fresh fame by the brilliant society she gathered about her ; and. Rousseau’s ” Devin du Village ” was performed for the first time in the long gallery across the Cher.
The first impression of Chenonceaux is one of disappointment. The whole thing is so small ; and the effect is spoilt on approaching the entrance, by the great isolated round tower, built in the 15th century by Jean Marques on the river’s bank beside his mill. This not only dwarfs the building, but is confusing at first to the spectator. Seen, however, from the glowing garden on the riverside, we find that the building is really a tiny square Chateau, built right out into the river on the foundations of the ancient mill whose piles were driven into the solid rock, and joined to the farther bank of the Cher by a five-arched bridge, bearing Philibert de l’Orme’s three-storeyed gallery. The Chateau actually blocks the river, which runs through the five arches of the bridge, and the great water arch under the Chateau proper in which the mill wheel was placed, besides the two smaller ones of the drawbridges, which served to break the force of the current. The little Chateau has four tourelles at the corners with extinguisher tops, finished with lofty and delicate lead ornaments. It is three windows wide on each side ; and two storeys high to the cornice, which, instead of forming a balcony is an attic of flat pilasters, in relief, but not detached from the wall, with richly carved leaf brackets and cartouches below. With the roof come three dormersthe centre one being two-storeyed, with candelabra ornaments tossed high aloft. The gallery is the least interesting part of the building. And it is now disfigured inside with decorations in the worst taste, carried out during the possession of Mme. Pelouze and her brother M. Daniel Wilson.
I have described these Chateaux at some length, because it is important to get a tolerably distinct idea of the complete change that had come over the dwelling-places of France with the beginning of the 16th century.
PIERRE LESCOT (b. 1515? d. 1578),builder of the Louvre, was a gentleman born. His family were “gens de robe “. And he himself was Seigneur de Clagny, near Versailles; by which title he is generally spoken of. Ronsard in apostrophising ” Toy, L’Ecot, dont le nom jusques aux astres vole,” says :
” Car bien que tu sois noble et de coeur et de race “Bien que des le berceau l’abondance te face ” Sans en chercher ailleurs .. . tes premiers régens n’ont jamais pu distraire ” Ton coeur et ton instinct pour suivre le contraire.”
It is known that he travelled in Italy. But until 1541 we do not find his name mentioned as the author of any special work. In this year he first comes into public notice. The Church of St. Germain l’Auxerrois in Paris was being restored. Lescot furnished designs for the Jubé or Screen, and undertook its construction ; Jean Goujon executing the sculptures upon it, of which some are now in the Louvre.
In 1546 Lescot was taken into royal service. François I. ” l’aima par dessus tout,” says Ronsard; and now preferred him to the Italian Serlio, who arrived in France in 1541, and even to Bullant and de l’Orme. The King, not content with his favourite Palace of Fontainebleau, and his Chateaux of Chambord, and of Madrid in the Bois de Boulogne, now determined to outdo the magnificence of Écouen by a palace in Paris. During the absence of the Court at Tours, under Charles VIII. and Louis XII., the Louvre had been almost deserted, or used under the latter King as an Arsenal. In 1527 François I. had already begun operations by destroying the great tower of the Louvre, which was too Gothic and too sombre for the dainty spirits of the Renaissance. But, occupied as he was with other projects, little was accomplished beyond the necessary repairs, until Charles V.’s visit in 1540; when the old fortress was made gorgeous for a time with hangings and decorations, and its extreme unsuitability to modern requirements became evident. At last, however, the moment arrived for its reconstruction. And on Aug. 2, 1546, the King gave orders to Pierre Lescot for ” un grand corps d’hostel ” on the spot where ” la grande salle ” then was, after plans which the architect had drawn up. Thus began the ” old ” Louvre which we know. For though the building has taken 300 years to finish, it has virtually been carried out on those compelling lines laid down by Lescot in 1546. After the death of François I. in 1547, Lescot’s post as Director of the works at the Louvre was confirmed by Henri II. And the façade which has served as model for the rest of the building was completed in two years. This is the south-west angle of the court, round the spot on which the great tower had stood. Not only was the exterior rebuilt. The interior had now to be remodelled to meet the requirements of State occasions. The whole of the west wing was devoted to a single State room on the first and second floors. The lower one is the well-known Salle de Cariatides. The upper one is now occupied by the De Caze collection, but has been much altered. For thirty-two years, until his death in 1578, Lescot continued his work upon the Louvre ; and apart from his own genius, it was his great good fortune to have for associate and friend the greatest sculptor of the day, Jean Goujon. To Goujon’s chisel the building owes the decorations of the facadethose exquisite bas-reliefs which are its glorythe four great figures from which the Salle des Cariatides takes its nameand possibly the sculptures of the Escalier Henri II.,though this is extremely doubtful. – They are, however, certainly from his atelier.
Honours came fast on Lescot under the succeeding reigns. In 1554 he was made a Canon of Notre Dame. But as Canons were obliged to shave at least once in every three weeks, Lescot insisted on an exception being made in his favour ; and only accepted the canonry on condition he should be allowed to keep his beard. In 1556 he was styled ” Abbé de Clermont, conseiller et ausmonier ordinaire du Roy “. In 1559, on de l’Orme’s disgrace, Lescot was given his office. And in 1578 he died in his Canonry of Notre Dame.
His contemporaries speak of him as an excellent painter. But no picture has survived.
All that remains of his work arefragments of the Jubé of Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, now in the Louvre ; the Fontaine des Innocents, Marché des Innocents ; the Hotel Carnavalet, Rue de Sévigné ; Architecture of the Tomb of Henri II., St. Denis ; and his chief and greatest work, the south-west angle of the old Court of the Louvre from the Pavilion de l’Horloge.
PHILIBERT DE L’ORME (b. Lyons, 1515; d. 1570) ,builder of Anet and the Tuileries, was the first of the new type of architect. No longer the maître maçon : but a man of learning, accomplishments, acquirements, a courtier and polished gentle-man of the world. Without the original genius of Bullant, his learning and power of adaptation almost counterbalanced his want ” of sensitive feeling and original resource. His talent, ” made up chiefly of reason and science, well personified the ” second period of the Renaissance.” De l’Orme knew better than most men how to make the best use of his knowledge. His two published works, Nouvelles inventions pour bien batir, and Livre d’Architecture, are full of personal details. So is the MS. Memoir of himself written about 1560, and discovered in the Bibliothèque National in 1860. He always contrived to attract attention ; and tells us how in Rome he measured the Triumphal Arch of Sta. Maria Novella, ” just when several Cardinals and nobles ” happened to be passing.
At the age of fourteen he went to Italy, where the precocious youth seems to have made himself heard of to some purpose. For he says, in his Memoirs : ” J’ay servi papes, roys, et plusieurs cardinaux, et feu Monsieur de Langes, Guillaume du Bellay, et Monsieur le Cardinal son frère me débauchairent du service du pape Paulle à Rome, où j’estoys et avoys une belle charge à St. Martin dello Bosco alla Callabre “. Four years later he left Rome and returned to Lyons. A house there, in the Rue de la Juiverie still shows an extra-ordinarily skilful addition by his handsolving the problem of how to connect two parts of the house with a gallery by means of two ” voutes à trompe “. The portal of the Church of St. Nizier at Lyonsstill unfinishedis also by de l’Orme.
He was first employed near Paris by Cardinal du Bellay, on his Chateau of Saint-Maur-les-Fossez, afterwards the property of Queen Catherine de Medicis. It is, however, with Henri II.’s accession that de l’Orme’s known activity begins. By letters patent dated April, 1547, he is made ” Conseiller et ausmonier ordinaire et Architecte du roy,” to superintend the works of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau, Villers-Cotterets, etc. Next year he is created Abbé of Ivry. The year after, Inspector of the Royal works. But this year, 1549, is of much greater importance. For in it he begins the building of Anet, for Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de Valentinois. The King on his accession, had presented her, as I have said, with ” la paulette,” the yearly patent tax. And out of this immense revenue of public money she built Anet with extraordinary rapidity. De l’Orme, besides various small works, also built for the beautiful favourite the bridge across the Cher at Chenonceaux,’ which, though it adds a singular and picturesque touch, destroys the unity of design of the gem that we owe to Pierre le Nepveu. In 1550 he designed the Chapelle aux Orfèvres. And also designed the famous monument of François I. at St. Denis which is mentioned under the head of Sculpture.
In 1559 disgrace came upon de l’Orme at the hand of the Queen-Mothermainly owing to his works for Diane de Poitiers. In vain he appeals to Catherine in his Memoir, and recapitulates all his services to herself and ” le feu roy “. She remains obdurate. And will not even allow him to exercise his profession. So he is forced to amuse himself by lawsuits with the monks of St. Barthélemyles-Noyon ; and in writing his Nouvelles Inventions. After five years, however, the Queen-Mother relentedneeding him for her new project, the Palace of the Tuileries, close to the King’s Palace of the Louvre which Lescot was still building. Here de l’Orme had to contend with many difficulties. Catherine herself had made the plans. And de l’Orme was further hampered by having for official coadjutor, Madame du Perron, one of the Queen’s ladies, who was appointed one of the ” Surintendants des bastiments du roy “. Anet, therefore, where he worked untrammelled by advice and pressure of other minds, is the best example of his talent. He was also given the building of the Tour, or Tombeau des Valois, adjoining St. Denis, destroyed by order of the Regent in the name of Louis XV. in 1719, on account of its bad condition. The exterior was composed of Doric and Ionic columns, surmounted by a third Composite order, with a cupola and pierced lantern. Beneath this lay Germain Pilon’s superb figures of Henri II. and Catherine. Like Lescot, a Canon of Notre Dame, Philibert de l’Orme died in the Cloisters of the Cathedral in 1570. Rich, famous, and successful, he had plenty of enemies. Ronsard was jealous of him, and made game of him in sonnets. And Palissy in his book Eaux et Fontaines, attacked his system of waterworks, as well as his great wealth. But the fact remains that his books may still be read with profit. His Nouvelles Inventions are valuable on account of precepts upon cutting and preparing stone, jointings of masonry, and other details of actual building. In these matters his knowledge and skill was immense. And he trained his master-masons himself with infinite care. He also revolutionized the system of timber work hitherto in use : ” And gave his name to the ” method which is still called ` couverture à la Philibert de ” l’Orme’ “.’ In 1783 Legrand and Molinos used the actual plans which de l’Orme published in 1561 for the dome of the Halle Neuve in Paris.
All that remains of his work is —-
Unfinished portal, St. Nizier, Lyons. House in the Rue de la Juiverie, Lyons. Ruins of Anet. Façade of Anet, École des Beaux Arts, Paris. Gallery across the Cher, Chenonceaux. Touches at Chambord and Chaumont.
Tribune of Chapel of St. Saturnin, Fontainebleau. Ceiling and Chimney-piece, Galerie Henri II., Fontainebleau.
His fine staircase in the Cour du Cheval Blanc at Fontainebleau was replaced in the 17th century by an erection of Jacques Lemercier’s. The Tuileries are now destroyed. The Chateau of Villers-Cotterêts still exists in part.
JEAN BULLANT (b. 1510-15; d. 1578),-builder of Écouen. Bullant may be said to stand half-way between the master-masons of the early days of the Renaissance, when the architect was but a superior workman who lived on the scaffolding; and the architects who built the Louvre and the Tuileries. He had spent much time in Italy. But he was ” devoid of that ” tincture of letters and grace of various accomplishments ” which specially distinguished the more typical men of the ” time “. This perhaps made him all the more acceptable to the violent Constable, Anne de Montmorency, who would have found Lescot and de l’Orme too polished and courtly to suit his rough humour. And in 1540 he began what was to be the absorbing work of his life, when Anne de Montmorency commissioned him to carry on the building of his Chateau of Écouen, begun some few years earlier.
Henri II. in 1557 appointed him by letters patent ” Controleur des bastiments de la Couronne “. But three years later he was replaced by François Sannat, supposed to be a protégé of the Queen-Mother. At the age of fifty-five he was taken into favour again on the death of de l’Orme, and recalled to Paris to carry on the unfinished buildings of the Tuileries ; and also to superintend the works at Catherine’s Chateau of Saint-Maur-les-Fossez. In 1571 he was completely restored to favourthe Queen-Mother appointing him her architect to the ” Thulleries “. Two years later we find he receives 532 livres as ” ordonnateur de la sépulture ” of Henri II. And in 1575 is ” Controleur des bastiments du roi ” and architect for the Tomb of the Valois. He also built the Hotel de Soissons for Catherine.
But in spite of all these royal works and important posts, he remains the architect of the Montmorencys. The two Chateaux he built for the Constable, Écouen and the Petit Chateau of Chantilly, still survive to attest to his genius. Ecouen was his home. At Écouen the greater part of his life was spent. At Écouen he died in 1678. Happily this magnificent specimen of the later Renaissance was saved from complete destruction at the Revolution, by being used as a military Hospital. It is now the School of the Legion of Honour. And though little but the mere shell remains, it is a document of the highest interest and valuea building begun and finished by a skilful and highly original artist, who worked at it with a clearly-defined purpose, unfettered by convention or interference.
His work is extremely characteristic, even in its defects. At Chantilly, built in 1559 soon after the disgrace of the Constableat Ecouenin the bridge-gallery of Fère-en-Tardenoiswhatever might be his respect for antiquity, Jean Bullant was quite ready to introduce innovations, ” where ” arches pierce the pediments, where windows cut through ” the entablature, where classic orders rise from the bottom ” of one storey to the middle of the upper one “.1 These defective arrangements became extremely popular, thanks to Bullant. And a number of churches in the Renaissance style, which are to be seen in the district round Ecouen, if they are not actually from his hand, show his influence.
Examples of Bullant’s work :
A few fragments of Pilasters and Carvings from the Pavilion de Flore, Tuileries.
The Doric Column, 100 feet high, in the Halle aux Blés. This is all that remains of the Hotel de Soissons.
The Pont-Galerie of Fère-en-Tardenois.
Façade of the Church of Belloy.
The shell of Ecouen.
The Petit Château, Chantilly.
Besides the four celebrated artists, Le Nepveu, Lescot, de l’Orme, Bullant, and the host of anonymous workers, other architects of the Renaissance whose names have come down to us in connection with famous buildings, must be mentioned.
JEAN TEXIER or LETEXIER (d. Chartres, 1529) ,known as Jean de Beauce, is one of the earliest of these. Maître d’oeuvre and sculptor, he lived at Vendôme, and worked there on the Church of the Trinity until 1506. He signed an agreement in that year with the Chapter of the Cathedral of Chartres to rebuild the Clocher, the north-west tower 1 which had been destroyed by lightning. This bell-tower and spire was finished in 1513. In 1514 he began the celebrated screen round the Choir, which shows he was not only an architect but a sculptor of considerable merit. He was unable to finish it before his death ; and the work, carried on by Francois Marchand and others, was not finished until the 17th century. Texier also enlarged the Church of Saint-Aignan, Chartres, by an arch of fourteen metres across the Eure, supporting the sacristy, etc. ; a work of great boldness of conception. He died in 1529.
BASTIEN FRANÇOIS and MARTIN FRANCOIS OF TOURS.Bastien François, maître d’oeuvre and sculptor, married a daughter of Guillaume Régnault, the nephew of Michel Colombe. In 1500 he became maître d’oeuvre to the Cathedral of Tours ; and, with his brother Martin, built the upper part of the Northern tower. This belfrey shows an extremely bold and original design. Founded on early pointed work, it is surmounted by a scaled cupola ; while within it, a graceful, spiral staircase rests on a crown of open groins or ribs. The inscription in the dome shows this tower was finished in 1507. The Southern tower resembles that of Francois in general appearance, though it was not begun until 1537, and finished ten years later. In the next year, 1508, Bastien François and his brother began the exquisite Cloître de Saint-Martin, at Tours. Of this, happily for the student, the Eastern wing still exists in the playground of a Convent School. And the kindly, white-robed sisters are most willing to admit visitors. This cloister shows, as M. Palustre points out, with what rapidity the genius of Bastien François developed. Following so soon upon the somewhat rugged, though very advanced work of the tower, we find here an exquisite specimen of the purest Renaissance. A line of round-headed arches, their architraves richly but delicately ornamented, and medallions imitated from Italian plaques in the spandrels, is surmounted by an enchanting frieze, and a cornice. The ribs under the roof, form more round-headed arches from pillar to wall ; and at the intersections are round cartouches, each one different. This cloister, one of the gems of the period, was finished by Pierre Gadyer, in 1519.
The brothers now erected the Fontaine de Beaune, which, though despoiled of its basins, is still a beautiful specimen of their work. In parts of itthe lower lines of wings and clawsit seems possible to trace not only the same design, but the same hand, as in part of the tomb of the children of Charles VIII. in the Cathedral. This may well be. For it is now ascertained beyond doubt 1 that Guillaume Régnault, Bastien’s father-in-law, was employed on the tomb (1506) with Jérôme de Fiésole, under the direction of Michel Colombe. Bastien François worked with these two sculptors, under his great-uncle Michel Colombe’s direction, upon the tomb of François II., Duc de Bretagne, at Nantes (1502-1506) ; and he was also designated by Colombe (1508) to conduct the works of the platforms and tombs at Brou.’ But the death of Colombe, and disgrace of Perréal who had furnished the first designs, stopped the work.
In 1513 Bastien was appointed maître d’oeuvres to the city of Tours ; and in 1515 maître d’oeuvre ” de Maçonnerie et de Charpenterie ” to the King, in Touraine, his brother succeeding to his post at the Cathedral. Bastien François died in 1523. His brother Martin died in 1525, and was succeeded by several generations of architects. Of these, Gatien Francois I. worked at Chenonceaux ; the Eglise des Minimes at Plessis les Tours ; at Marmoutiers, 1531 ; and took the place of Pierre Gadyer at the Chateau de Madrid.
PIERRE GADYER or GANDIER,a Tourangeau architect, seems to have replaced Martin François as maître d’oeuvre to the Cathedral of Tours, about 1526. The lower part of the Southern tower is attributed to him. His other serious claim to fame is, that it is now ascertained that it was Gadyer who drew up the plans for the magnificent Chateau de Madrid, built by Francois I. in the Bois de Boulogne. The oft-repeated legend of its Italian origin is now definitively destroyed. And, as indeed common-sense might have discovered long ago, a building so absolutely French in its whole conception, is now known to have been the work of a French architect, aided by Della Robbia and other Italians in all matters of ornament. Gadyer also appears to have finished the Cloître de St. Martin, at Tours, begun by the brothers Francois.
COLIN BIARD or BYART (b. Amboise, 1460),began his known career by work on the Chateau of Amboise, under Charles VIII. In 1499 he was chosen with three other architects to superintend the rebuilding of the Pont Notre Dame which had given way. Later on, Louis XII. entrusted him with the building of the Chateau of Blois. And from Blois, Cardinal d’Amboise summoned him to Gaillon. In 1505 he returned twice to Gaillon to inspect the works. In the next year he Iliade another journey there to determine the foundations of the Chapel. And in July went with Guillaume Senault to Saint-Leu to choose the stone for the Grand Maison. It is evident, therefore, that he assisted Pierre Fain and Pierre Delorme in the building of this magnificent edifice. A drawing on vellum of the decoration for the Chapel, still exists among the archives of Gaillon, signed with a B.
In Dec., 1506, Biard was summoned to Rouen with other maîtres d’oeuvres, to decide whether the Tour de Beurre, just built, should be completed with an aiguille or ” terrasse avec couronne “. In 1507 we find him at Bourges, in consultation about measures to prevent the fall of the Cathedral tower. It fell, however, on the 30th of the month. And in 1508 he furnished plans for rebuilding it. He is mentioned as having been from his youth ” mélé et entremis du faict de massonerie “. The date of his death is not known. He must not, however, be confused with another and better known Biard (Pierre), author of the Jubé of Saint Étienne du Mont, etc.’
PIERRE FAIN,” maître d’oeuvre et sculpteur de Rouen “. In 1501 we find the first mention of Pierre Fain. He was entrusted with work upon the Archbishop’s palace at Rouen, by Cardinal Georges d’Amboise. And later at the Manoir Abbatial de Saint-Ouen, for the Abbot, Étienne Boyer, which he completed in 1507.
In this same year Cardinal d’Amboise, the all-powerful minister of Louis XII., summoned him to Chateau Gaillon. And Pierre Fain agreed with other maîtres d’oeuvres for the construction of the Chapel and the grand staircase, for a sum of 18,000 livres. This work was finished in Sep., 1509, and the money paid to Fain. The sculptors for this famous Chateau were Michel Colombe, Antoine Juste, and François Marchand. The ornamentation was by the best Italian artists then in France. Paintings were by Andrea Solario. The architects, besides Pierre Fain, who was the chief master at the moment, were Guillaume Senault, Pierre Delorme, Roland Leroux, and Colin Byard. The magnificent building was destroyed at the Revolution. Only the entrance, the Clock tower, and the Chapel tower are now standing ; and form part of the great Maison Centrale de Détention, a mile or so from the station of Gaillon, between Paris and Rouen. The stalls of the Chapel are at St. Denis. The Fountain is in the Louvre. So is the St. George and the Dragon. The Façade or Portico is the glory of the court at the École des Beaux Arts. That court also contains many exquisite fragments from Gaillon ; and an arcade of two or three arches, the pillars ornamented with exactly the same curious network pattern enclosing ermines’ tails as on the arcade of Louis XII., at Blois. This would point to both being the work of Colin Byard.’ In 1508 for further sums, Pierre Fain and his associates undertake to build the kitchens. And Fain alone, agrees to build two half croisées and a dormer, for 324 livres 10 sols. And the portico, which gave passage from the fore-court to the Cour d’Honneur, for 650 livres. This, as I have said, is now at the Beaux Arts. The modern inscription, as M. Eugène Muntz points out, is erroneous ; for it says, ” Façade du Chateau de Gaillon “bati en 1500 par le Cardinal Georges d’Amboise,” instead of giving the real date, 1508. It occupies the place once filled by the glorious St. George and the Dragon of Michel Colombe.
Chateau Gaillon, as built by Cardinal d’Amboise, will always remain one of the marvels of the early Renaissance, and a chef-d’oeuvre of French Architecture. It was not until the end of the 16th century that it was disfigured by the monstrous ornamentation, so justly condemned by Fergusson and others.
GILLES LE BRETON (d. 1553 ?),maître d’oeuvre de Paris. The place of Gilles Breton in the history of French Art, has within the last few years become one of considerable importance. For he is now proved to have been the architect of the chief works at Fontainebleau, under François I. These have hitherto been attributed wholly to the Italians. Indeed we are commonly told that Fontainebleau hardly counts in French Art, as it was built entirely by Italians, from the plans of Italians. The more honest and careful researches of recent authorities have completely disproved these whole-sale assertions.
In 1526 Gilles le Breton was working at Chambord with Le Nepveu. The next year he was appointed ” maitre général des oeuvres de Maçonnerie du roi, et son commis voyer,” a post of the highest importance. It was in 1529 that François I., by a consenting act, took back certain ground which Saint-Louis had given in 1259 to the Trinitaires, round the old Chateau of Louis VII. at Fontainebleau. The king at once began remodelling the ancient Chateau the chief constructor being his maître-général, Gilles le Breton. It is considered more than probable that le Breton was the architect as well. For none of the other celebrated architects of the time could have furnished the plans. Lescot was too young. So was Bullant. So was de l’Orme, who did not leave Lyons till 1539. Le Nepveu was too busy at Chambord, and Fontainebleau does not bear the slightest trace of his style. While Serlio, to whom the Chateau is attributed, did not arrive in France until 1541. It is therefore obvious that he had nothing to do with the plans in 1528.
On April 28, 1528, Le Breton signed a contract to ” pull ” down the old entrance and build another with a square ” tower, besides two smaller ones, and three storeys of ” little galleries, etc.” In Aug., 1531, there is a fresh contract for the Chapel of St. Saturnin, and the alteration of a staircase. In March, 1540, a third contract for the great staircase and accessories, for 18,000 livres. His various works and his accounts at Fontainebleau were verified and receipted in this year by Philbert de l’Orme and others : ” Et il reçut d’eux ” un satisfecit complet “. Thus the major part of the works at Fontainebleau were finished before Serlio’s arrival in 1541. M. Palustre attributes to Gilles le Breton the péristyle in the Cour Oval. And it must be evident to any one who examines the remains of François I.’s buildings, that they are the work of a French, and not of an Italian architect.
Le Breton lived at Avon, the little village just beyond the Canal and the Modern Artillery School, Fontainebleau ; and died there in 1553.
CHAMBIGES, PIERRE I., (d. 1544),son of Martin Cham-biges builder of the Transept at Sens, is first mentioned while working with his father at Troyes. Then at Beauvais. In 15334 he is styled ” Maître d’oeuvres de Maçonnerie et pavement ” to the city of Paris. He superintended the fortifications, and carried out the building of the Hotel de Ville under Domenique de Cortone. In June, 1538, he was appointed maître d’oeuvres to the King, at Senlis. And in the same year worked at Fontainebleau under the orders of Gilles le Breton.
His most important work, however, was the transformation of the Chateau of Saint-Germain-on-Laye. This he began in 1539, in which year he made a contract for the terraces of the Chateau, which were executed in lias by Guillaume Guillain and Jean Langeries. In April, 1540, Chambiges received 70,174 livres for the works he had carried out at Fontainebleau and Saint-Germain. In 1541 a contract for the works at La Muette is adjudged to him : but he makes it over the same day to his son-in-law Guillain, and Langeries. In this document he is styled ” Maître d’oeuvres de la Ville de Paris “. Therefore it is probable that he gave the first plans for the building of the Chateau, which was carried on by de l’Orme, who built the Chapel in 1549, three years after Chambiges’ death.
It is interesting to trace the same peculiarities in all Chambiges’ workthe use of brick for ornament, while the massifs of the wall are in stucco or stone. We see it in his portion of Fontainebleau, the cour du Cheval Blancespecially in the fine chimney on the right as we face the Chateau, with its huge F in red brick on the white ground. At Saint-Germain, it is used not only on the exterior, but in the interior. The walls of the barrel-roofed stairway are ornamented with white stucco panels, and brick pilasters and mouldings. So is the magnificent three-storeyed chimney-piece in the great Hall. This inversion of the use of stone and brick is a mark of all the Chateaux built by ChambigesFontainebleau, Saint-Germain, La Muette, Challuau.
This Architect must not be confoundedas has often happenedwith PIERRE CHAMBIGES II. M. Bauchal says he must have been a grandson or great nephew of Pierre I. He married a daughter of St. Quentin, one of the contractors for the new Louvre. And was supposed to be the builder of the ” Petite Galerie” of the Louvre in 1566. This has been erroneously ascribed to Pierre I., who died twenty years before there was any question of building it.