Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ange-Jacques Gabriel: Louis XV's Premier Architect

Ange-Jacques Gabriel by Jean-Baptiste Greuze
Ange-Jacques Gabriel (October 23, 1698 – January 4, 1782) was born into a family of great architects, succeeding his father, Jacques Gabriel, as the premier architect of France in 1742. 

During his tenure he oversaw the transition from the ornate Rococo period to the order & simplicity of Neoclassicism driven by the belief that progress depends upon reason and discipline.

His love of symmetry and classical proportion is reflected in many of his creations from the minute French Pavilion (completed 1750) to the enormous Château de Versailles (including extensive palace renovations starting in 1735 & the addition of the Royal Opera 1769-1770).

For me, one of the many delights of re-creating his buildings are discovering the false doors which have been placed "just so" to maintain the symmetrical appearance of a room.  Equally fascinating are the "secret" doors that are blended into the walls for the same reason. I stumbled upon this technique for the first time while constructing  The Billard Room of the Petit Trianon.

The Château de Compiègne seen from the garden (Wikipedia)
His major works included the Château de Compiègne (1750+) and a number of hôtels particuliers in the Place de la Concorde.

The Petit Trianon (1762-1768) is perhaps his most celebrated achievement.

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