(b. 1559, Dreux, d. 1615, Paris)


French architect, part of a family of architects from Dreux. The eldest son of Thibaut Métezeau, he doubtless worked with his father, particularly on the construction of town houses in Paris. The Hôtel d'Angoulême, begun in 1584 for Diane d'Angoulême, Henry II's illegitimate daughter, is attributed to him, and includes the city's first example of a colossal order comprising large Corinthian pilasters, almost certainly inspired by one of Philibert Delorme's plates.

Métezeau then entered the service of Henry IV and his sister Catherine of Bourbon (one of Louis's brothers, Jean Métezeau, was the princess's secretary) and during the years of the re-conquest of the kingdom was probably consulted by the King on the major architectural projects to be put into effect immediately after the Pacification. After the resumption of work on the royal houses in September 1594, Métezeau was named Architecte des Bâtiments du Roi to 'occupy himself with the conduct' of work on the châteaux of the Louvre, the Tuileries, Fontainebleau and Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The King's incumbent architect, Jacques Androuet Du Cerceau the Younger (1550-1614), had to yield to authority and work alongside him.

It is impossible to distinguish between the contributions of Métezeau and Du Cerceau at the Louvre or at the Tuileries between 1594 and 1608. Métezeau is mentioned by name as only the interior designer of the King's apartment and Queen's chapel in 1606 and the hall of antiquities in 1608. His primary role can be deduced, however, from the fact that he was named Concierge et Garde des Meubles at the Tuileries in 1605, that he was given a lodging in the Grande Galerie of the Louvre and that he was described on his death as Premier Architecte du Roi.

Métezeau's role in the conception and realization of major urban developments under Henry IV and the Duc de Sully is difficult to define precisely. He may have drawn up designs for the pavilions and houses of the Place Royale (now Place des Vosges), the Place Dauphine, the Place de France and possibly also for the new château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, or Fontainebleau. In 1609 he built the monuments that were to receive the hearts of Henry IV and Marie de' Medici in the Jesuit chapel at La Flèche, and together with Thomas Francini (d. 1648) he was given responsibility for organizing the entry of the Queen into Paris in 1610. The following year the Queen sent Métezeau to Florence to draw the plans of the Pitti Palace, a visit that was to inspire the construction of the Palais du Luxembourg. His talents as a designer must have been recognized, since he drew designs for several carved chimney-pieces in Jean de Fourcy's mansion in the Rue du Jouy and in that of Master Lalanne in the Rue Saint-Honoré.

Métezeau's contribution to the Mannerist style of architecture adopted by Henry IV was a decisive one. His taste for the monumental, the tendency to overload with sculpted decorations, the juxtaposition of elements borrowed from the grammar of Vitruvius (pilasters, columns, pediments, friezes and niches) and the use of the colossal order and vermiculated bossage are all combined into a coherent and individual manner, the roots of which lie in Delorme's late style, seen at the Tuileries, and in the work of Jean Bullant and the Androuet du Cerceau family. Two sons, Louis II and Guillaume, became royal architects and engineers.