DOMENICO DA CORTONA
(b. ca. 1470, Cortona, d. ca. 1549, Paris)
Italian woodworker and architect, active in France. He was apparently the son of a goldsmith from Cortona nicknamed Beccaloro, a nickname he inherited and which was changed in France to Boccador. In 1495 he was among the 22 artists and artisans brought from Naples by Charles VIII, King of France, which suggests that he was one of the Tuscans who had settled in Naples in the service of the house of Aragon. A tradition preserved in Cortona in the 18th century maintained that he was trained by Giuliano da Sangallo.
On arrival in France, he specialized in the construction of wooden architectural models, a practice then current in Tuscany. In the following years he was paid as a joiner and was in the service of Queen Anne of Brittany. He became a naturalized Frenchman in 1510. In 1514 he erected a triumphal arch in wood for festivities celebrated in Paris; at that time he was referred to as maître des oeuvres de maçonnerie du roi. In 1519 he executed a model of the château of Chambord, which is assumed to be the first design for the château and is known through drawings by André Félibien (1619-1695). His design, represented in the wooden model, survived into the seventeenth century but the actual construction, during which much was improvised, was under the on-site supervision of Pierre Nepveu.
The following year Domenico erected in Ardres the temporary wooden pavilions employed for the court at the meeting of Francis I with Henry VIII, King of England, at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
It was only in 1532 that Domenico was paid under the title of architect, the King having commissioned from him a design for a new Hôtel de Ville in Paris (destroyed 1871). Work was only finished in 1628, and Domenico's design was not adhered to in the first floor of the main façade. The regular plan, however, and the Italianate detailing and elevation of the courtyard made this the first building in Paris in the true Renaissance style. The ground floor of the main façade, with its columns and its bays screened by arches, probably influenced Pierre Lescot's design for the Louvre (1546).