GONDOIN, Jacques
(b. 1737, Saint-Ouen, d. 1818, Paris)

Biography

French architect and furniture designer. The son of the gardener at one of the French king's royal châteaux, Jacques Gondoin rose to become one of the leading Neoclassical architects and furniture designers to the king.

After studying with Jacques-François Blondel (1705-1774), Jacques Gondoin gained favour to become a resident of the French Academy in Rome from 1759 to 1763, without winning the Grand Prix. He was funded by a stipend granted by Louis XV. In Rome he met many prominent designers and artists such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi, who influenced his later work.

Upon Gondoin's return to Paris, the king, at the suggestion of his surgeon, commissioned him to design the École de Chirurgie (School of Surgery), one of the great Parisian monuments of Neoclassical architecture. In 1769 the king appointed him dessinateur du mobilier de la couronne (Furniture Designer to the Crown), a post he held for fifteen years. Specializing in designs for carved furniture, Gondoin provided detailed drawings and models in wood and wax for ébénistes such as Jean-Henri Riesener to follow.

Gondoin survived the French Revolution by retreating to his country house, where he posed as a gardener. From 1795 he began working again on architectural projects, including a renovation of the palace of Versailles.