European Architecture Series
Jules Hardouin Mansart

Biography of French Baroque Architect.

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Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles.
Designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart
and Charles Le Brun.

Jules Hardouin Mansart (1646-1708)


Jules Hardouin Mansart's Architecture
Buildings Designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart
Other Baroque Architects

For a short guide to terminology
see: Architecture Glossary.

Jules Hardouin Mansart's Architecture

Ranked among the greatest architects and artists of the French Baroque - such as Louis Le Vau (1612-70), Andre Le Notre (1613-1700), and Charles Le Brun (1619-90) - Jules Hardouin Mansart was the grand-nephew of Francois Mansart (1598-1666), the father of French Classical architecture, who gave his name to the popular Mansard (sic) roof, a steeply inclined roof with a short flat peak. Jules Hardouin Mansart succeeded Le Vau as Royal Architect to King Louis XIV, whose taste for power and prestige he obediently reflected in the grandiose facades of the Palace of Versailles, as well as the first "French Windows" which he designed for the Grand Trianon at Versailles, and in the majestic dome of Les Invalides (1679-91). Indeed, Mansart's work is regarded by many art scholars as the high point of Baroque architecture in France. Later appointed Premier Architect and Superintendant of Buildings, other important examples of his architecture include the elaborate Chateau of Marly (1679-86) - intended originally as the king's country retreat from court life - and the Place Vendome (1698) in Paris.


Born in Paris, he studied under his famous relative Francois Mansart, from whom he also inherited a vast collection of plans and drawings. He was also taught by Liberal Bruant, designer of the royal hospital in Paris known as Les Invalides, which Mansart completed after Bruant's death. At the age of 29, Mansart became official architect to Louis XIV, in which role he first extended the royal chateau of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, before turning to the redesign and extension of the Palace of Versailles. Here, during the period 1678-98, basing himself on the plans of his predecessor Le Vau, he designed the new Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Trianon, the Orangerie, as well as the new north and south wings.

Note: The building and decoration of the Palace of Versailles led to a mini-renaissance in the activity of French designers in a wide range of applied art. Among the most exquisite of all 17th century French decorative arts, is fine French Furniture, whose quality and finish is unlikely ever to be equalled.

Together with Robert de Cotte, Mansart was also responsible for the Royal Chapel (1710) at Versailles. During the 1680s, he also designed the Chateau de Marly (1679-86), a royal family home which grew rapidly to include a dozen pavilions for guests, elaborate formal gardens, and over 200 statues in both marble and stone. In 1685 he was appointed chief architect to the king and, in 1699, Superintendant of Royal Buildings.

He was also active in Paris. Continuing Bruant's work at Les Invalides veteran's hospital, Mansart raised the columned drum of the dome by inserting an extra attic storey above the cornice, creating in the process one of the most grandiose examples of Baroque architecture. The ribbed dome - one of the largest in the world - dominates both the external structure and the interior. (See also: Saint Peter's Basilica Rome 1506-1626). In 1698 he redesigned the octagonal Place Vendome in Paris - originally begun in order to house the royal academies and libraries. Mansart's characteristic Baroque designs and roofs are still clearly visible, as are the Roman Corinthian columns which decorate the two-storey facades. (See: Roman Architecture.)

His preeminent position as the most powerful of all Baroque architects under Louis Quatorze, gave him the opportunity to create many of the significant monuments of the period, and to set the tone of Late Baroque art in France. His approach to building design influenced architects as far abroad as Saint Petersburg and Constantinople, including Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-71). He died at Marly-le-Roi at the age of 62.

Buildings Designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart

Among his best-known works are the following:

- Pavilion de Manse, Auvergne (1659-89)
- Chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris (1663-82)
- Chateau de Dampierre-en-Yvelines (1675-83)
- Palace of Versailles (1678-98) Various works
- Chateau de Marly, Marly-le-Roi (1679-86)
- Dome of Les Invalides, Paris (1679-91)
- Place des Victories, Paris (1684-6)
- Pont-Royal, Paris (1685-9)
- Chateau de Meudon (1695)
- Place Vendome, Paris (1698)

Other Famous Baroque Architects

In addition to those architects cited above, the best known Baroque architects included:

Francois Mansart (1598-1666)
See also: French Baroque Artists.

Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723)
Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726)

Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (1656-1723)
Jakob Prandtauer (1660-1726)
Johann Dientzenhofer (1663-1726)
Andreas Schluter (1664-1714)
Balthasar Neumann (1687-1753)
Hans Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff (1699-1753)
See also: German Baroque Artists.

Vignola (1507-73)
Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669)
Bernini (1598-1680)
Francesco Borromini (1599-1667)
See also: Italian Baroque Artists.
For an iconic Italian Baroque building, see: St Peter's Basilica (1506-1626).

Alonso Cano (1601-1667)
Pedro de Ribera (1681-1742)
See also: Spanish Baroque Artists.


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