ARCHITECT, French
(active 1530s in Paris)

Exterior view

1537-38
Photo
Saint-Eustache, Paris

Church architecture in France in the 1530s was limited to additions and alterations to existing buildings, but it produced one complete work of great interest, the church of Saint-Eustache in Paris. The foundation stone was laid in 1532, but the building was not finished till more than a century later, though the original design seems to have been generally followed.

It is to be expected that Gothic tendencies should survive longer in ecclesiastical architecture than in secular, and this is amply borne out by Saint-Eustache. It represents, however, a remarkable compromise between new and old. The plan is almost exactly that of Notre-Dame, with double aisles and chapels running round nave and choir, and transepts which do not project beyond these chapels. In the interior the proportions of the nave again recall the thirteenth rather than the fifteenth century. The arches are tall and narrow, and although in general they are round-headed, those in the apse are stilted and pointed. This Gothic structure is, however, clothed in Renaissance forms.

At the main façade, the left tower has been completed in Renaissance style, while the right tower remains a stump. The front and rear aspects provide a remarkable contrast between the comparatively sober classical front and the exuberant rear, which integrates Gothic forms and organization with Classical details.

The architects of the church are unknown, but it is possible that the original design was by Pierre Lemercier (active 1532-1552), and the Lemercier family of master masons could have a role in the construction.

The photo shows the view from the south-east.




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