(b. ca. 1515, Amiens, d. 1578, Écouen)

Chapelle des Valois: Plan and elevation

Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

The Chapelle des Valois in Saint-Denis was a mausoleum which Catherine de' Medici designed for her husband, Henry II, herself, and her sons. It was a circular building to be added to the north transept at Saint-Denis. In the middle was to stand the tomb of the King and Queen, which was begun in 1560 on Primaticcio's designs, the sculpture being carried out by Germain Pilon.

The first design was produced by Primaticcio, but nothing seems to have been actually erected by the time of his death in 1570. In 1572 Jean Bullant was put in charge of the work, and in the following year he presented a model to the king, on which the engraving by Jean Marot, shown in the picture, was based. In 1578 Bullant was succeeded by Baptiste du Cerceau who the actual building up to the top of the second Order between 1582 and 1585. It fell into decay and was finally pulled down in the early eighteenth century.

In general design the Valois Chapel goes back to Italian models such as Bramante's Tempietto, though if differs from any previous buildings of this type in having six chapels instead of the usual four or eight, this number being dictated by the necessity of supplying four chapels for the four sons of Henry II and two more for the altar and the entrance. The division of the chapel externally into two storeys, each with its order, from which emerges the drum carrying the dome itself, recalls Sangallo's design for St. Peter's.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.