BROSSE, Salomon de
(b. 1571, Verneuil-en-Halatte, d. 1626, Paris)

Exterior view

Château, Blérancourt (Aisne)

More than any of his contemporaries, Salomon de Brosse prepares the way for the next generation and the introduction of classicism. From about 1610 onwards he seems to have enjoyed considerable success as an architect. During the next few years he was commissioned to build three great châteaux: Coulommiers in 1613 for Catherine de Gonzague, Duchesse de Longueville; Blérancourt, begun by 1612 and finished before 1619 for Bernard Potier; and the Luxembourg in 1615 for Marie de' Medici.

Of the three châteaux the Luxembourg and Coulommiers are in many ways traditional. In plan they are variants of the well-established form with corps-de-logis, two wings and a screen enclosing a court. At Blérancourt de Brosse's plastic conception is more apparent, because the château has no wings, but is reduced to a single block with four flanking pavilions. This is an important step, leading up to the classical conception of the chateau as it was evolved by François Mansart and bearing a closer relation to the ideals of the Italian Renaissance than any earlier buildings in France.

The dressed stone chateau was built as a country house for the de Gesvres family. During the French Revolution it was taken over by the state and the central part of the building was demolished. Ornamental elements and reusable building materials were auctioned off. All that remained were the great gate and two wings.

The photo shows the entrance pavilion of the château which still stands at the corner of the forecourt. We can see here how fine but severe was the design of the windows, far in advance of anything else which was being done in France at this time.