martes, 14 de febrero de 2012

Chateau de Maisons

The Château de Maisons was built from around 1640 to about 1650, by the architect François Mansart for René de Longueil, who was later given the title as Marquis de Maisons. The completion of stables and the gardens took another 20 years or so.

According to a smear against Mansart, the architect razed the entire ground floor in the midst of construction, and decided to start over from scratch. The story is considered plausible given the reputation of the architect as uncompromising in his search for perfection. 

The stables, of which only a grotto now remains, were demolished in the 1830s or 1840s. The design of the stables were similar to the main building and featured a single storey decorated with doric pilasters. The central pavilion had six columns on the ground floor, and above that Corinithian pilasters under a pediment. 

The property was also greatly reduced in size during this period, as then-owner Jacques Lafitte parceled up the surrounding 300-hectare park for development. It was further reduced in size after 1877 when the painter Tilman Grommé took over ownership. The smaller 33-hectare park was subdivided and a wrought iron grille put up to mark the new boundaries of the chateau. The gateway that Mansart designed as an entrance to the greater park still exists at the end of Avenue Eglé.

The garden front is oriented to the southeast toward the Seine, while the forecourt was in the direction of the royal hunting ground of St Germain-en-Laye.

The central staircase is slightly off-centre, which allows for an uninterrupted view through the central axis of the building. The staircase hangs off the walls, with no obvious means of support. Mansart had previously experimented with this model at the Chateau de Balleroy, which he completed in 1636. 

The interior and exterior sculpture is by Jacques Sarazin and his team, which are perhaps best known for the caryatids on the clock pavilion of the Louvre courtyard.

The focal point of the forecourt and garden front is the classical frontispiece. The orders are arranged according to classical principles: Doric on the ground floor, Ionic on the first floor and Corinthian on the attic. A similar superimposition of columns was used at Chateau d'Anet, which Philibert de l'Orme built for Henri II's mistress in 1547-1552. The five part division of the facade into three pavilions (avant-corps) and two recessed sections (arriere-corps) was first introduced at the Louvre during the same period. Another important source of inspiration for Mansart was Salomon de Brosse and his Chateau de Blerancourt from 1612-19).

Low relief sculpture is used throughout the composition, but sparingly overall. It is not by dramatic effect, but by subtle variations that the building achieves its striking effect. The different panes and columns are constantly recessed and projected, yet the façade seems relatively flat, and does not appear baroque in expression. Only the flank of the outer wings are curved.

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