LE VAU, Louis
(b. 1612, Paris, d. 1670, Paris)

Collège des Quatres-Nations, Paris

Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

In the 1660s Le Vau had designed for the executors of Mazarin's will the Collège des Quatres-Nations, for the foundation of which the Cardinal Had left a large sum. The building, now the Institut de France, was placed on the south side of the Seine on the axis of the Square Court of the Louvre and was conceived as part of the same grand scheme. It is of importance in French architecture of this period as being one of the few buildings to embody some of the principles of Roman Baroque architecture. The domed church flanked with wings curving forward combines motifs from Pietro da Cortona and Borromini, and presents a dramatically effective ensemble not to be paralleled in French architecture of the seventeenth century.

Le Vau's plan included a bridge which was to link the college with the Louvre. This was not built till the nineteenth century, and then only as the meagre Pont des Arts; but even this allows one to appreciate the effect which the architect intended to be produced on the visitor as he walks across the river towards the college with its semicircle spread symmetrically before him.

The engraving was executed by Gabriel Pérelle.

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