SERLIO, Sebastiano
(b. 1475, Bologna, d. ca. 1554, Fontainebleau)

Aerial view

Château, Ancy-le-Franc, (Yonne)

Construction of the existing château began in 1544, at the request of Antoine III de Clermont, brother-in-law of Diane de Poitiers. The design of the building is traditionally attributed to the Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio, who had been invited to France by King Francis I. Following Serlio's death in 1554 at Fontainebleau, architect Pierre Lescot, took over the work, respecting the original plans of Serlio. The interior design is the work of Francesco Primaticcio, who was working at château de Fontainebleau at the time.

During his time in France Serlio seems to have carried out only two buildings: the house of Ippolito d'Este, Cardinal of Ferrara, at Fontainebleau, known as 'Le Grand Ferrare', of which only the gate survives, and the château of Ancy-le-Franc in Burgundy. In addition he made designs which were not executed. These works were of great importance for the later development of French architecture, but Serlio's influence was even greater through his treatise, which was issued in many editions and was translated into most European languages.

Serlio's original plan, preserved in a manuscript, shows an entire Italianate building with rusticated ground floor and four low square towers at the corners, in the manner of early Renaissance villas on the Venetian mainland. The château survives complete, though it underwent many alterations during the period when Serlio was in charge of the building and some after his death. The result of these alterations was that the building became markedly French, with its high roof and the flat patterning of the walls, which is familiar from châteaux such as Villandry.

View the ground plan of Château, Ancy-le-Franc.

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