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Jacques Androuet du Cerceau. Les dessins des plus excellents bâtiments de France.

By Françoise Boudon et Claude Mignot.

Saturday 27 February 2010, by Guillaume Berthon

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

Shortly before or in the year 1559, and with the support of King Henry II, Jacques Androuet du Cerceau agreed to design “the most beautiful houses of France.” In doing so he created a master work, published here in its entirety, and in colour, for the very first time.

The one hundred and sixteen designs which he has drawn on vellum – better than the two volumes of prints dedicated to Catherine de Medici, who had backed his enterprise from the start – are unquestionably the work of a brilliant designer. They feature not only architectural and topographic images, but also lively figures and accompanying captions, which offer us highly realistic portraits of chateau life in the Renaissance.

Les Plus excellents bâtiments de France constitutes a genuine reference work and illustration of French architecture. Du Cerceau’s drawings provide us with a magnificent panorama of the views, plans and façades of the French kingdom’s most imposing chateaux: medieval fortresses (Vincennes, Coucy, Creil) and sumptuous Early Renaissance chateaux in the Loire Valley (Amboise, Blois, Chambord) and in the Paris region (Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain-en-Laye) ; the Bois de Boulogne chateau – the so-called “Madrid Castle” built for Francis I – the Parisian counterpart of Chambord and the modern counterpart, west of the capital, of the East Bois de Vincennes chateau; Classical Renaissance masterpieces such as the Louvre, Anet, Ancy-le-Franc and the unfairly underrated Vallery chateau, which is the prototype of the “brick and stone” chateaux of Henry IV and Louis XIII time, not to mention Écouen – now the site of the Musée national de la Renaissance – and the highly original pentagonal chateau of Maulnes-en-Tonnerois. This book also gives readers the opportunity to discover the grand chateaux conceived by, and for, Catherine de Medici, which, for the most part, remained only on paper: the master plan for the Tuileries in Paris, the extraordinary chateau-palace which was to magnificently envelop the first Chenonceaux, and the no less extraordinary Charleval chateau planned for Charles IX, to be built adjacent to the forest of Lyons in Normandy.

Éditions Picard
82, rue Bonaparte – F-75006 Paris
Tel : 33.(0) - Fax : 33.(0)

Coédition Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine et Le Passage.

Un volume relié 28 × 23 cm, 256 pages, 250 illustrations en couleurs.

Prix : 49 € – Parution : février 2010.

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