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Hector-Martin Lefuel (Versailles, 14 November 1810 – Paris, 31 December 1880) was a French architect, best known for the completion of the Palais du Louvre, including the reconstruction of the Pavillon de Flore after a disastrous fire.
He was the son of Alexandre Henry Lefuel (1782-1850), an entrepreneurial speculative builder established in the town of Versailles, who was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in 1829; there he studied with Jean-Nicolas Huyot and in 1833 he received second place in the Prix de Rome competition.
A winner of the Prix de Rome in 1839, he spent the years 1840 to 1844 as a pensionary of the French Academy in Rome at the Villa Medici. On his return to France he opened his own practice and was appointed an inspector for the Chambre des députés.
Having carried out alterations as the Château de Meudon (1848) and for the housing of the Manufacture Royal de Porcelaine de Sèvres (1852), he was appointed chief architect of the Château de Fontainebleau, one of the main seats of Napoleon III and the Second French Empire; there he designed a new Imperial theatre (1853-1855). He was elected to the Académie des beaux-arts in 1855, taking the chair of Martin Gauthier. He was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1854, and a Commander of the Legion in 1857.
At the same time Lefuel was placed in charge of the ambitious project of completing the Louvre, following the death of the architect Louis-Tullius-Joachim Visconti in 1853. Adjusting and enriching Visconti's project he completed the project, one of the showpieces of the Second Empire. Lefuel produced the Salle des États in the extended northern wing facing the Place du Palais-Royal (containing the Ministry of Finance and the library, opened in 1857, the southern extension of the Galerie du Bord de l'Eau, with the Pavillon Lesdiguères and the Pavillon Trémoille. Aiding Lefuel was the young American architect Richard Morris Hunt, who had studied under Lefuel at the École des Beaux-Arts. Following Hunt's graduation, Lefuel made Hunt inspector of the Louvre work and allowed him to design the facade of the Pavillon de la Bibliothèque.
Lefuel's work at the Pavillon de Flore which had been begun under Visconti was to the order of Napoléon III, who in 1861 authorized its remodeling. The renovation, performed between 1864 and 1868, added significant detail and sculpture to the work, which is thus noted as an example of Second Empire Neo-Baroque architecture as much as it is of the late sixteenth century. After the demolition of the Tuileries Palace, the north facade was reconstructed using the designs of Lefuel.
For the Empress Eugénie, Lefuel created sumptuous apartments in the Palais des Tuileries, lost when that palace burned in the Paris Commune of 1871.
Lefuel also designed and erected the hôtel particulier of Achille Fould, Minister of Finance under Napoléon III, and that of the museum director Émilien de Nieuwerkerke (the Hôtel de Nieuwekerke in Parc Monceau) and the Hôtel Émonville in Abbeville.
For the Paris Exposition of 1855 he built the temporary Palais des Beaux-Arts et de l'Industrie.
His palace in Louis XIII style at Neudeck (Świerklaniec), Polish Silesia, built in 1868-72, the grandest of three residences there of the Donnersmarcks, was burnt out in 1945 and demolished in 1961.
Grand Salon of the Napoleon III Apartments
Salle d'Auguste (originally Salle des Empereurs)
Salle du Manège (former stables)
South facade of the Guichets du Carrousel (1861)
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- Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1885). Paris in old and present times. p. 38.
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- Bautier 1995 p. 220.
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- Imitating Jacques Lemercier's Renaissance-style Pavillon de l'Horloge of 1624 (the eastern face of the same pavilion, on the Cour Carrée), Lefuel refaced the western side in 1856 and transformed Visconti's understated original by adding a profusion of elaborate sculptural detail and a narrow second storey. Criticized by Vitet in 1866, Lefuel's treatment became popular and initiated the widely imitated Second Empire style. (Mead 1996, p. 69)
- Decorated by Lefuel with paintings by Maréchal, the Napoleon III Apartments, originally the apartments of the Minister of State, were created for Achille Fould, but inaugurated by his successor, Count Walewski, natural son of Napoleon I and Maria Walewska. The apartments were occupied by the Finance Ministry from 1872 to 1989. (Bautier 1995, pp. 144, 170)
- The Assembly of the Gods on the vault was painted by Matout (1865). This room should not be confused with the Salle des Empereurs Romains of the 1790s in the former Summer Apartment of Anne of Austria. (Bautier 1995, pp. 144)
- The decoration, conceived by Lefuel and executed in 1861 by Frémiet, Rouillard, Jacquemart, Demay, and Houguenade, includes capitals with heads of horses and other animals evoking the hunt. (Bautier 1995, pp. 144, 154)
- A statue of Napoleon III under the pediment was replaced during the Third Republic with The Genius of the Arts by Mercié. (Bautier 1995, pp. 137, 144)
- Carpeaux's Imperial France Enlightens the World, flanked by the allegorical male figures Science and Agriculture, surmounts the pediment, and below, his frieze of Flora leaning over a group of children, is "unquestionably the most famous work of sculpture on the whole exterior of the Louvre." (Bautier 1995, p. 129)
- Bautier, Genevieve Bresc (1995). The Louvre: An Architectural History. New York: The Vendome Press. ISBN 9780865659636.
- Mead, Christopher (1996). "Lefuel, Hector-Martin", vol.19, pp. 69–70 in The Dictionary of Art (reprinted with minor corrections in 1998), edited by Jane Turner. London: Macmillan. ISBN 9780333749395.