BÉLANGER, François-Joseph
(b. 1744, Paris, d. 1818, Paris)


French architect and landscape designer. He had a distinguished career as a royal architect at the courts of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Although his fame rests on his accomplishments as a landscape architect, his mercurial talents are perhaps best characterized in his drawings for interior decoration and court festivals.

After studying physics under the Abbé Nollet at the Collège de Navarre, Bélanger attended the Académie Royale d'Architecture in Paris between 1764 and 1766 where he worked under Julien-David Le Roy and Pierre Contant d'Ivry. He was not a successful student and left without achieving the illustrious Prix de Rome. Nevertheless, under Le Roy's influence he was involved with the circle of Neo-classical artists, including Charles-Louis Clérisseau, who had recently returned from Italy. In 1767 Bélanger became a Dessinateur du Roi at the Hôtel des Menus Plaisirs under Charles Michel-Ange Challe. Since the Menus Plaisirs were responsible for the temporary decorations and stage scenery for court festivities, Bélanger was involved with preparations for the marriage celebrations in 1770 of the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI. One of his first commissions (1769) was for a jewel cabinet (destroyed) for the Dauphine Marie-Antoinette, and Pierre Gouthière was among those who helped make it. Later, in 1775, Bélanger became Inspecteur, responsible for establishing a studio at the Hôtel des Menus Plaisirs in which the collection of hardstones and marbles purchased by Louis Marie Augustin, Duc d'Aumont in c. 1770 was mounted.

From 1777 he worked for the comte d'Artois, the king's brother, in the château de Bagatelle in Bois de Boulogne, and in château de Maisons-Laffitte.

During the Revolution he was imprisoned in Saint-Lazare. In 1811, he reconstructed the dome of the Halle au Blé, the present Bourse.