Ange-Jacques Gabriel


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One of the greatest French C18 architects. He trained under his father, whom he succeeded as Contrôleur of Versailles (1735) and as Premier Architecte and Director of the Academy (1742). He was responsible for some of the most refined Classical buildings of the Louis Quinze period, continuing and further refining the architectural language established by François Mansart as in the Grand Pavillon, Fontainebleau (1749). As Architect to the King, Gabriel carried out extensive alterations and extensions to the Royal Palaces, notably the Opera House at Versailles (1761–8). His largest schemes were for the École Militaire, Paris (1750–68), and the Place Louis XV (now Place de la Concorde), Paris (1755–74): in the latter he created two elegant Classical monumental façades (the Hôtel de Coislin (now Crillon) and the Gardemeuble (now the Ministère de la Marine) with screens set between end-pavilions owing much to Perrault's east front of the Louvre of a century earlier. His smaller buildings, including the Pavillon Français, Versailles (1749–50), Le Butard, Vaucresson, near Versailles (1749–50), Pavillon de la Muette, near St-Germain (1753–4) and the Petit Château, Choisy (1754–6), all attest to his ability in finding an expression of noble simplicité. His masterpiece is the Petit Trianon, Versailles (1761–8), which may partly derive from Palladianism, but its continuous horizontals, absence of curved elements, and ultra-refinement give the building a gracious nobility and serene authority far removed from the Rococo, a harbinger, perhaps, of Neo-Classicism.

J -F Blondel (1752–6, 1771–7);Builder (1962);Builder (1980);Gallet & Bottineau (1982);Hautecœur (1943–57);Tadgell (1978)

Subjects: Architecture.

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