François Mansart

François Mansart
François Mansart, detail of a double portrait of Mansart and Claude Perrault, by Philippe de Champaigne
Château de Maisons, by Mansart.

François Mansart (13 January 1598 - 23 September 1666) was a French architect credited with introducing classicism into Baroque architecture of France. The Encyclopædia Britannica cites him as the most accomplished of 17th-century French architects whose works "are renowned for their high degree of refinement, subtlety, and elegance".[1]

Mansart, as he is generally known, made extensive use of a four-sided, double slope gambrel roof punctuated with windows on the steeper lower slope, creating additional habitable space in the garrets[2] that ultimately became named for him – the mansard roof.


François Mansart was born to a master carpenter in Paris. He was not trained as an architect; his relatives helped train him in as a stonemason and a sculptor. He is thought to have learned the skills of architect in the studio of Salomon de Brosse, the most popular architect of Henry IV's reign.

Mansart was highly recognized since the 1620s for his style and skill as an architect, but he was viewed as a stubborn and difficult perfectionist, tearing down his structures in order to start building them over again. Only the richest could afford to have him work for them, as Mansart's constructions cost "more money than the Great Turk himself possesses".

The only surviving example of his early work is the château of Balleroy, commissioned by a chancellor to Gaston, Duke of Orléans and started in 1626. The duke himself was so pleased with the result that he invited Mansart to renovate his Château de Blois (1635). The architect intended to rebuild this former royal residence completely, but his design was stymied and only the north wing was reconstructed to Mansart's design, cleverly using classical orders.

Church of Val-de-Grâce, by Mansart.

Most of Mansart's buildings were subsequently reconstructed or demolished. The best preserved example of his mature style is the Château de Maisons, which uniquely retains the original interior decoration, including a magnificent staircase. The structure is strictly symmetrical, with much attention given to relief. It is thought to have heralded and inspired the 18th-century Neoclassicism.

In the 1640s, Mansart worked on the convent and church of the Val-de-Grâce in Paris, a much coveted commission from Anne of Austria. His alleged profligacy led to his being replaced with a more tractable architect, who basically followed Mansart's design.

In the 1650s, Mansart was targeted by political enemies of the prime minister Cardinal Mazarin, for whom Mansart frequently worked. In 1651, they published "La Mansarade", a pamphlet accusing the architect of wild extravagance and machinations.

After Louis XIV's accession to the throne, Mansart lost many of his commissions to other architects. His designs for the remodeling of Louvre and for the royal mausoleum at Saint-Denis were never executed, in the case of the Louvre because he would not submit detailed plans.[3] Some of his plans were subsequently reused by his grandnephew, Jules Hardouin Mansart, who was not so ingenious and individualistic, and seeking to please his patrons. Mansart died in Paris.


  1. ^ Western Architecture - France, Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. ^ AMHER, 4th edition, 2000.
  3. ^  "François Mansard". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • François Mansart — François Mansart. François Mansart (eigentlich Nicolas François Mansart, auch Mansard; * 23. Januar 1598 in Paris; † 23. September 1666 in Paris) war ein französischer Architekt und Baumeister. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • François Mansart — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Mansart. François Mansart Portrait gravé par Gérard Edelinck (1696) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Francois Mansart — noun French architect who introduced the mansard roof (1598 1666) • Syn: ↑Mansart • Instance Hypernyms: ↑architect, ↑designer …   Useful english dictionary

  • MANSART (F.) — François Mansart a donné une signification nouvelle à l’architecture classique française. Il y est parvenu en appliquant le vocabulaire classique à des formes architecturales auxquelles il n’était pas en fait destiné, à tel point qu’entre ses… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mansart — ist der Name folgender Personen: François Mansart, *1598; †1666, französischer Architekt Jules Hardouin Mansart, *1646; †1708, französischer Architekt, Großneffe von François Mansart Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mansart — may refer to: François Mansart (1598–1666), French architect Jules Hardouin Mansart (1646–1708), French architect, his grandnephew See also Mansard roof This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an …   Wikipedia

  • Mansart — puede hacer referencia a: Jules Hardouin Mansart, arquitecto francés del siglo XVIII; François Mansart, arquitecto francés del siglo XVII; o la mansarda, ventana abierta en el tejado. Esta página de desambiguación cataloga artículos relacionados… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mansart, François — ▪ French architect Introduction Mansart also spelled  Mansard   born January 1598, Paris died September 1666       architect important for establishing classicism in Baroque architecture in mid 17th century France. His buildings are notable for… …   Universalium

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