LE PAUTRE, Antoine
(b. 1621, Paris, d. 1679, Paris)

Interior view

Hôtel de Beauvais, Paris

The reputation of Antoine Le Pautre rests on the Hôtel de Beauvais, erected between 1657 and 1660, on the rue Saint-Antoine, which survives today, though in sad condition. This house is the most ingenious of all the solutions found by French architects for the problems presented by difficult and irregular sites. In this case Mme de Beauvais had bought two plots on the rue Saint-Antoine and a third on the rue de Jouy. Though contiguous, the three sites formed together an area with re-entrant angles and with no side parallel to any other side.

In addition to original solutions to the problem of restricted Parisian space, the arrangement of galleries and above all of staircases testifies to a dynamic approach.

Château tradition dictated that the vestibule and staircase be placed in an avant-corps in the middle of the principle building, but this was rarely the case in town residences. The staircase became one of the primary elements of architectural virtuosity. At the Hôtel de Beauvais, a superb stairway flanked by Corinthian columns gave directly onto a vestibule through which carriages could pas.