Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/441

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[FRENCH RENAISSANCE
ARCHITECTURE
not transformed like those at Langeais and Rochefoucauld, where what was externally a 14th-century castle developed internally into a 16th-century mansion; both Chenonceaux and Azay-le-Rideau were built as residences, and yet in both are displayed those features which belong to the fortified castle; at the angles of the main structure in both cases are circular towers, in the latter case crowned with machicolations and hourds, which, however, are purely decorative, pierced with windows, and broken at intervals with dormer windows, a feature which gives it the aspect of an attic storey. The lofty roofs and conical terminations to these angle towers, with dormer and chimney, give the same picturesque aspect to the grouping as that which was afforded in the fortified castle, where, however, they originated in the necessity for defence. The entrance portals of both châteaux are beautiful features, absolutely Gothic in design, and only transformed by cinque-cento detail.
In the château of Chambord (1526) we find the same defensive features introduced, in the shape of great circular towers at the angles, but here with more reason, as the château was intended more for display than habitation. The château itself, about 200 ft. square, has circular towers at the angles, and in the centre a spiral staircase with double flight, leading to great halls on each side, which give access to the comparatively small rooms in the angles of the square and the towers beyond, and to the roof, which would seem to have been the chief attraction, as there is a fine view therefrom; and the elaborate octagonal lantern over the staircase, the dormer windows, chimneys and lanterns on the conical roofs of the towers, are all elaborately carved. There are three storeys to the building, subdivided horizontally by string courses, and terminated with a fine cornice carrying a balustrade, and vertically by a series of pilasters of the Corinthian order. The varied outline of this building, with the alternation of blank panels and windows between the pilasters, relieves what might otherwise have been its monotony. The château is situated on the east side of a great court measuring about 500 ft. by 370 ft., with a moat all round. To the right and left of the central block the walls are carved up three storeys, and an attic, with open arcades inside, leading to the angle towers of the enclosure. At a later period Louis XIV. continued the unfinished structure by a one-storey building round. The carving of the capitals, corbels and other decorative work was all done by Italian artists, under the direction of some architect whose name is not known.
One of the gems of Francis I.’s work is the small hunting lodge originally built at Moret near Fontainebleau, to which at one time the king thought of adding, before he began his great palace there. This was taken down in 1826, and re-erected in the Cours-la-Reine at Paris. Though small, it is the purest example of the first Renaissance. Other examples are the hôtel de ville of Paray-le-Monial (1526); the Hôtel d’Anjou at Angers (1530), built by Pierre de Pincé; the Hôtel Bernuy at Toulouse (1530); the Hôtel d’Ecoville at Caen (1532); the Manoir of Francis I. at Orleans; the Hôtel Bourgthéroulde at Rouen (1520-1532) and other buildings opposite Rouen cathedral, and what remains of the château known as the Manoir d’Ango (1525) at Varengeville, near Dieppe. The château of St Germain-en-Laye (1539-1544), the upper half of which is built in brick, belongs also to the early period, as also the hôtel de ville at Paris, built in 1533 by Domenico da Cortona, an Italian, who after spending some thirty years in France would seem to have caught the spirit of the French Renaissance so well as to be able to produce one of the most remarkable examples of the Francis I. style. In the existing building the original design has been copied from the building burnt down by the Communists in 1871.
From this we pass to the palace at Fontainebleau, begun by Francis I. in 1526, to which there have been so many subsequent additions and alterations that it is difficult to differentiate between them. The building owes its picturesque effect more to its irregular plan (as portions of an earlier structure were enclosed in it) than to any brilliant conceptions on the part of its architect. There is an endless variety of charming detail in the capitals, corbels and other decorative features, but the employment of pilaster strips purely as decorative features (without any such structural property as that in the Porte Dorée at the Cour Ovale) suggests that the Italian architect Serlio, to whom sometimes the work is ascribed, certainly had nothing to do with it.
On the other hand, there is every reason to believe that the designs made by Pierre Lescot for the Louvre, begun in 1546, were, as regards their style, largely based on the principles set forth in Serlio’s work on architecture, published in 1540. The south-west angle of the court of the Louvre is the earliest example of the third period of the Renaissance, in which the orders are employed in correct proportions with columns or pedestals carrying entablatures with mouldings based on classic precedent. The portion built from Lescot’s designs (Plate VIII., fig. 83) consists of the nine bays on the east and north sides, the latter not being completed till 1574, as the workmen would seem to have been transferred to the building of the Tuileries, begun in 1564.
The Corinthian order is employed for the ground and first storeys and an attic storey above, in which the pilaster capitals run into the bedmold of the upper cornice. Of the nine bays, the central and side bays are twice the width of the others, and project slightly with the cornices breaking round them; this feature, and the crowning of the western bays with a segmental pediment, give a variety to the design, which otherwise might have become monotonous by its repetition of similar features. The balustrade also is replaced by the chêneau, a cresting in stone, which hereafter is found in nearly all French buildings. The sculptor, Jean Goujon, would seem to have worked in complete harmony with the architect, thus producing what will always be considered as one of the chef-d’œuvres of French architecture.
The architect employed by Catherine de’ Medici for the Tuileries was Philibert de l’Orme, who combined the taste of the architect with the scientific knowledge of the engineer. Only a portion of his design was carried out, and of that much disappeared in the 17th century, when his dormer windows were taken down and replaced by a second storey and an attic. Bullant and du Cerceau also added buildings on each side.
The Tuileries were built about 500 yds. from the Louvre, and Catherine de’ Medici conceived the idea of connecting the two. The work, which began with the “Petite Galerie,” with the south wing, as far as the Pavillon Lesdiguieres, was started in 1566, being of one storey only. The mezzanine and upper storey were not completed till the beginning of the 17th century. In 1603 the remainder of the south front and the Pavillon-de-Flore were completed by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau.
Of Philibert de l’Orme’s work at Anet (1549), only the entrance gateway, the left-hand side of court, and the chapel remain, sufficient, however, to show that he had already at that early date mastered the principles of the Italian Revivalists. The chapel is in its way a remarkable design, but the hemispherical dome, pierced by elliptical winding arches inside, is not happy in its effect. The frontispiece which he created opposite the entrance, now in the court of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, shows great refinement in its details, but proportionally errs in many points. De l’Orme built also the bridge and gallery on the river Cher, forming an addition to the château of Chenonceaux.
Amongst other work of this period are the additions made by Bullant to the château de Chantilly, where he traversed the principles of classic design by running Corinthian pilasters through two storeys and cutting through the cornice of his dormer windows. At Écouen (1550) he destroyed the scale of the earlier buildings of 1532 by raising in front of the left wing of the court four lofty Corinthian columns with entablature complete, which he copied from the temple of Castor in Rome.
Among the early Renaissance work are the château of Ancy le Franc (Yonne), Italian in character, which may be by Serlio (1546); the Hôtel d’Assézat at Toulouse (1555), in which there is a strong resemblance to the court of the Louvre; the houses at Orleans, known as those of Agnes Sorel, Jeanne d’Arc and Diane de Poitiers (1552); and there is other work at Caen, Rouen, Toulouse, Dijon, Chinon, Périgueux, Cahors, Rodez, Beauvais and Amiens, dating up to the close of the 16th century. In this list might also be included the fine town hall of La Rochelle, the Hôtel Lamoignon in the rue des Francs-Bourgeois, Paris (1580), and the Hôtel de Vogüé at Dijon, which retained the Renaissance character, though built in the first year of the 17th century.
In the reigns of Henry IV. and Louis XIII. the first work of importance in Paris is that of the Place Royale, now the Place des Vosges; in this brick was largely employed, and the conjunction of brick and stone gave a decorative effect which dispensed with the necessity of employing the Classic orders. At Fontainebleau, where Henry IV. made large additions, the same mixture of brick and stone is found in the Galerie des Cerfs, and in the great service court (cour des cuisines). The example set was followed largely through the country, and numerous mansions and private houses in brick and stone still exist. Henry IV.’s most important work at Fontainebleau is the Porte Dauphine, of which the lower part, with rusticated columns and courses of masonry, does not quite accord in scale or character with the superstructure, in which is put some of the best work of the century.
Except perhaps for the monotony of the rusticated masonry which is spread all over the building, the palace of the Luxembourg, by Salomon de Brosse (1615), is an important work, in which he was probably instructed by Marie de’ Medici to reproduce the general effect of the Pitti palace at Florence. The three storeys of the main block are well proportioned, but the absence of a boldly projecting cornice, such as is found in the Riccardi and Strozzi palaces, is a defect; the same architect reconstructed the great hall of the palace of justice at Paris, burnt in 1871 but now rebuilt to the same design.
In 1629 the building subsequently known as the Palais Royal was begun from the designs of Lemercier; but it has been so materially altered since that scarcely anything remains of his design, though the works carried out from his designs at the Louvre were of the greatest possible importance. The court of the latter, as begun by Pierre Lescot, was of small dimensions, corresponding with that of the palace of Philip Augustus, but Lemercier proposed to quadruple its dimensions. It is not certain whether he built the lower portion of the Pavillon d’Horloge, but he designed the upper part, with the caryatid figures sculptured by Jacques Sarrazin. On the north side of this pavilion he built a wing similar in length and design to that of Pierre Lescot, and continued the wing along the north side to the centre pavilion; this was continued by Levau, the architect of Louis XIV., round the other sides of the court. His design for the