GABRIEL, Ange-Jacques
(b. 1698, Paris, d. 1782, Paris)

Biography

Architect, part of a French family of architects. Jacques I Gabriel was sufficiently prominent before the end of the first decade of the 17th century to be called upon to provide Rouen with a Hôtel de Ville. His sons Maurice I Gabriel 1602-1649) and Jacques II Gabriel (b. 1605) practiced architecture in Normandy and Touraine respectively. Maurice's sons Jacques III Gabriel (1637-1697) and Maurice II Gabriel (1639-1693), active in Paris, where they were eclipsed in importance by Jacques II's son Jacques IV Gabriel. Jacques IV's second son, Jacques V Gabriel, also became an architect, but the most distinguished member of the family was Jacques V's son Ange-Jacques Gabriel.

Ange-Jacques Gabriel was initially trained by the royal architect Robert de Cotte and his father (who died in 1742), whom he assisted in the creation of the Place Royale (now Place de la Bourse) at Bordeaux (completed in 1735). He was made a member of the Académie royale d'architecture in 1728. He was the principal assistant to his father as Premier Architecte at Versailles from 1735 and succeeded him in the position in 1742, essentially making him the premier architect of France, a role he retained for most of the reign of Louis XV. For forty years, Gabriel supplied all designs for exterior construction and also for the constant remodeling of interiors at Versailles.

Gabriel's symmetrical palace-like façades for the hôtels particuliers that enclose the north side of the Place Louis XV (Place de la Concorde), Paris, were begun in 1754 and completed in 1763. That on the right housed the storerooms for the royal furnishings (mobilier de la couronne), with luxurious apartments for the intendant; it has housed the naval ministry since the court returned from Versailles in 1789.

His sober rationality in planning and detail promoted the transition from Rococo to Neoclassicism. For forty years, Gabriel supplied all designs not only for exterior construction (the "Gabriel Wing" at Versailles was named for him in modern times) and also for the constant remodeling of interiors at Versailles. His Petit Trianon at Versailles is one of the gems of French Classicism.