ARCHITECT, French
(active 1526-1550 in Chambord)

Interior view

1526-50
Photo
Château, Chambord (Loir-et-Cher)

The most remarkable part of the château is the great staircase of the keep, situated at the centre of the cross-shaped hall. In a preliminary design, known through drawings by André Félibien of an untraced wooden model made by Domenico da Cortona, it is shown as having two straight, parallel flights of steps separated by a passage and is situated in one of the arms of the cross. This design was later abandoned in favour of a spiral staircase supported by pillars in a 'transparent' cage, similar to that at the château of Blois. A French staircase type thus won over an Italian form, but at the same time the result was also a triumph of the centralized layout - itself a wholly Italian element. The four arms of the cross are therefore identical, and the staircase, which rises like an internal tower, supports an immense 'lantern' that dominates the roofline of the château.

Equally original is the fact that the staircase consists of two interlocking but independent spirals, so that it is possible for two people to ascend and descend without crossing one another's path. It is not difficult to see in this astonishing construction the ideas of Leonardo da Vinci (who died at Amboise in 1519), since he had experimented with all these solutions in his drawings.

The photo shows the staircase of the keep.

View the section through the staircase tower, Château, Chambord.




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