Mansart and Le Nôtre of Versailles !!!

I like to tell you about two men who really gave notice to Versailles in more ways than stones and trees, I have written before on them briefly but a full post on them is merited me think, Versailles is a lot more than a castle I said, and I know lived very close to it for 9 glorious years. Therefore, let me tell you more about these two men of Versailles, Jules Hardouin-Mansart and André Le Nôtre !!! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Earl of Sagonne (in 1699), born on 16 April 1646 in Paris and died on 11 May 1708 in Marly-le-Roi (Yvelines 78) , buried in the church Saint Paul des Champs (demolished in 1799 and now nothing left of him thanks to the French revolution), He was the first architect of King Louis XIV and superintendent of the king’s buildings. The son of  Raphaël Hardouin, master painter, and Marie Gaultier, niece of François Mansart. Jules Hardouin-Mansart married Anne Bodin on 3 February 1668, with whom he had five children. She was the daughter of Nicolas Bodin, advisor to the king, treasurer of the provost of the hotel and grand provost of France, and Madeleine Adam, his wife. Pic statue by bd de la République in Versailles.


He built the small castle of Val (in 1674) and won the esteem of King Louis XIV after drawing the plans for the castle of Clagny ( now notre dame market and by bd de la Reine, Versailles) , intended for the king’s favorite mistress, Madame de Montespan. He became an ordinary architect in 1675 and entered the Royal Academy of Architecture. First architect of the king in 1681, he was appointed general steward of the king’s buildings in 1685.

On the death of Charles Le Brun in 1690, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who had just completed the dome of the Hôtel des Invalides, became inspector general of the king’s buildings in 1691. He painted the interior of the dome from 1702 to 1706. In 1699 he was able to acquire the county of Sagonne in Old region of Berry and Bourbonnais today dept 18 Cher in the region of Centre Val de Loire, and assert his title of count.

At the Château of Versailles his work are noted as 1677 : Le bosquet des Dômes;   1678 -1684 : The Galerie des Glaces ,   1679-1689 : the façade on the side of the park, the wings of  retrait du nord and du midi , 1684-1686 : the Petite and Grande Écurie, the new Orangerie; 1687 : the Grand Trianon, 1698-1710 : the Chapelle Royale 1698-1710 : the Coll Church of Notre-Dame de Versailles , 1681 : Hôtel de Beauvillier, Versailles,(aka Hôtel du Grand Contrôle, located in the extension of the Midi wing of the castle and overlooking the gardens of the Orangery),   1682 : Hôtel Colbert de Croissy ,Versailles (Charles Colbert de Croissy) , and 1683 : Hôtel de Chevreuse ,Versailles.

Jules Hardouin Mansart’s rise to fame became meteoric when, in 1678, Louis XIV charged him with the vast modifications and additions to the Château of Versailles. He first reworked Le Vau’s garden facade, filling in the large terrace set into the middle of the building’s second story, in order to create the Galerie des Glaces. Later Mansart erected the great wings which extend symmetrically north and south of the central block, creating in the overall 549 meters (about 1,800-feet) in length an unparalleled monumentality. Among his most imaginative efforts at Versailles were the splendid horseshoe-shaped stables , which were carefully planned to fill in the wedge-shaped areas formed by the avenues radiating out from the château’s forecourt. Equally notable is his work on the second Orangery, with its magnificently scaled embracing staircases. His last undertaking at Versailles was the Royal Chapel ;conceived 1688; built 1697-1710. Jules Hardouin-Mansart died in 1708 while working on the Royal Chapel. It was completed by his assistant and son-in-law, Robert de Cotte in 1710.

Beginning in 1679 and continuing to the time of his death, Mansart was occupied at Marly-le-Roi, (Yvelines dept 78) building a novel weekend retreat for Louis XIV. In the perfectly balanced layout of the entire complex, the building reserved for the King’s exclusive use stood as an isolated block, bounded on its flanks by individual pavilions designed to accommodate those members of the court who were invited to spend several days at Marly. The arrangement suggests a new intimacy in French architecture and can also be regarded as symbolic, for the central building is the dwelling of the Sun king and the pavilions are his satellites.

Architectural genius, Jules Hardouin-Mansart has given Versailles to France , a monument that is without a doubt one of the most prestigious castles that the whole world envy us. It has its place among the great builders of France! Indeed !!!

The official Château de Versailles on Jules Hardouin Mansart

André Le Nôtre  born on March 12, 1613 in Paris, at the palais des Tuileries (no longer there) where he died on September 15, 1700, in same palace ; his funeral was held at the Church Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois , and buried at the Church Saint-Roch, He was a gardener to King Louis XIV from 1645 to 1700 and had the task of designing the park and gardens of the Château of Versailles, amongst others. Very famous courtier, he managed to attract the favor of Louis XIV, by a fellowship probably worked in the presence of the king, who earned him the nickname, during his lifetime, of “Bonhomme Le Nôtre” or Fellow Le Nôtre. He knew how to distance himself from the intrigues of the Court and obtain the good graces of a king passionate about gardens. He is the author of the plans of many French gardens. I will concentrate on those in Versailles. Pic by rue Jacques Boyceau in Versailles


He was baptized on 12 March 1613 in the Church Saint-Roch ( 254 rue Saint Honoré) in Paris, his grandfather was Pierre Le Nôtre, a market gardener and then the king’s gardener at the Tuileries palace, a prestigious office he passed on to his son. His father Jean Le Nôtre was the king’s ordinary gardener in charge of the maintenance of the Tuileries garden of Marie de Medici and, since 1625, has held the title of designer of plants and gardens. His mother Marie Jacquelin is the daughter of master gardener Toussaint Jacquelin. his godfather, André Bérard de Maisoncelle, comptroller general of the King’s gardens under Henry IV and Louis XIII ,His godmother, Claude de Martigny, is the wife of Claude Mollet, also gardener of the king at the Tuileries, On January 16, 1640, André Le Nôtre marries, in Paris, Françoise Langlois, daughter of the governor of the pages of the Grand Ecuries (stables) who survives him and with whom he had three children, all of whom died young.

The young André Le Nôtre entered, in 1620, as a pupil in the studio of Simon Vouet, painter of Louis XIII, where he learned drawing for six years He also studied sculpture with Louis Lerambert and architecture and perspective with François Mansart . The craftsmen and artists (especially painters), whom he met at the castle where his father worked, allowed him to become familiar with the uses of the court that would be useful for his career.   In 1635, Le Nôtre becomes the first gardener of Gaston de France , brother of king Louis XIII, who entrusted him with his gardens in Saint-Cloud and Luxembourg. In 1656, Le Nôtre designed the new gardens of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte . In 1661, André Le Nôtre put himself in the service of Louis XIV to restore the gardens of Versailles: his intervention began with the parterre de l’Amour ( Love) at the end of 1662 and continued until 1687. In 1664, Colbert instructed Le Nôtre to beautify the Tuileries garden, which he transformed in depth, opening several perspectives, one of which served as a route to the future Avenue des Champs-Élysées.Le Nôtre was knighted by Louis XIV himself in 1675: on this occasion he received the Order of Saint-Michel followed, in 1681, by the Order of Saint-Lazare.

In 1693, André Le Nôtre retired to his house near the Marsan pavilion (today housing the musée des Arts décoratifsin the Tuileries Palace (now gone) , with his wife and nieces and nephews whom he adopted after the death of his three children. His house was surrounded by a garden that he maintained himself. He died there on 15 September 1700 at the age of 87, leaving an estimated fortune of one million pounds. His funeral was celebrated in the Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois and was buried in the Church of Saint-Roch. According to his wishes, he is buried unceremoniously. The chapel that houses his tomb is decorated with a painting by Jean Jouvenet, entitled the Martyrdom of Saint-André. His widow, Françoise Langlois, soon commissioned the sculptor Pierre Cotton to honor the memory of her husband. Made before 1707, it took place in front of the high altar, under a large arcade. Standing on a veined marble background of color, it consisted of a white marble allegory holding the gardener’s epitaph, in golden letters on black marble, all topped with the coat of arms of the deceased, with the famous three masons and the necklace of the order of St. Michael’s; below, at the height of the spectator, was placed on a console the bust of the deceased, his head slightly turned to the right, specially ordered by one of the masters of the funerary sculpture of the time, Antoine Coysevox. It was demolished   during the French revolution, only Antoine Coysevox’s bust remains from this tomb, unfortunately.

Upon his death, the local newspaper Mercure Galant said of him in 1700, (Trans) ” The king came to lose a man unique, and in love with is service to him, and a strong admirer of his own art, that had given him honor. It is Mr le Notre, general controller of buildings for his majesty, its gardens, and manufacturers of France….Never a man has given more of all that he has been able to give and contribute to the beauty of gardening…”,

Some of his nice work at Versailles , such as the great allée Le Notre, more often overlook by visitors, it is the extension of the castle  envision by Le Nôtre, along the axe allée des Mortemets that goes to the eau des Suisses at the today caserne Pion almost at the doors of the city of Saint-Cyr-l’école right by the ferme de Gally (see post), back of the Grand canal!  A complete renovation in the gardens all dear to me such as Potager du Roi, parc Balbi, and domaine de Madame Elizabeth (see posts). The Allée Royale in the castle will be an excellent opportunity to see his work up close starting from the bassin d’Apollon descending to the Grand Canal, and beyond into the Etoile Royale going to the towns dear to me such as the Saint-Cyr-l’école,Fontenay-le-Fleury, Rennemoulin, and Villepreux (road 307).

In one of my visits to Versailles , the City was celebrating his 400 annivesary in 2013 , The City covered its City/town hall in the garden colors of his favorites, An “André Le Nôtre International Prize” was founded in 2013 on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the birth of André Le Nôtre. It was presented in the context of the meetings André Le Nôtre of Versailles. It is intended to reward landscape architects from all over the world, for the whole of a work (from conception to realization, through the quality of the mastery of work, knowledge and know-how).


The official Château de Versailles on André Le Nôtre

There you go folks, two genious that we still keep coming back for them all over my belle France!  And Versailles was/is their greatest work of art!!! Again, hope you enjoy the post as I ,and especially their work.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all l!!

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