Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Vau
Louis Le Veau
|Died||11 October 1670 (aged 57 or 58)|
|Buildings||Château de Versailles|
Château de Vincennes
|Design||Oval salon at Vaux-le-Vicomte|
Early life and career
Born Louis Le Veau, he was the son of Louis Le Veau (died February 1661), a stone mason, who was active in Paris. His younger brother François Le Vau (said to have been born in 1613 or 1624) also became an architect. The father and his two sons worked together in the 1630s and 1640s. The two brothers later changed the spelling of their surname from "Le Veau" to "Le Vau" to avoid its association with the French word veau (calf).
Le Vau started his career by designing the Hotel de Bautru in 1634. By 1639, he was developing town houses (hôtels particuliers) for rich citizens such as Sainctot, Hesselin, Gillier, Gruyn des Bordes, and Jean Baptiste Lambert in the île Saint-Louis, which was being developed as a residential area. His most notable work during this period is the Hôtel Lambert (c. 1638–1653). Le Vau also designed country houses, including the Château de Livry (c. 1640–1645), later known as the Château du Raincy.
In 1654, his career was advanced through his appointment as the first architect to the king, succeeding Jacques Lemercier. He was commissioned by Jules Cardinal Mazarin to help rebuild part of the medieval Château de Vincennes. Shortly after, in 1656 he was given the important commission to build the chateau of Nicolas Fouquet, Vaux-le-Vicomte with the help of André Le Nôtre and Charles Le Brun. Le Vau’s most notable work in the Vaux-le-Vicomte is the oval salon facing the garden. This design, an example of a salon à l'italienne (vaulted, two-storied room), develops the idea that a simple form governs the shape of the main section of the building.
In the 1660s Le Vau helped on royal projects, such as the hospital of La Salpêtrière and the facade of the Tuileries Palace. From 1661-1664 Le Vau worked on rebuilding the Galerie d'Apollon in the Louvre after it burned in a fire. Claude Perrault and Charles Le Brun were also involved in creating the famous façade for the east front of the Louvre from 1665-1674, which acted as a prelude for Classical Architecture in the 18th century.
The most notable work of Le Vau’s career was at the Palace of Versailles with which he was involved for the remainder of his life. He added service wings to the forecourts and, after 1668, had rebuilt the garden façade to be totally classical. Le Vau was assisted by François d'Orbay, who completed the work after Le Vau's death. Le Vau and d'Orbay's work at Versailles was later modified and extended by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.
Le Vau’s designs for the Collège des Quatre-Nations (now housing the Institut de France) were completed after his death by his assistant François d' Orbay and showed unlikely rapport with Italian baroque techniques.
Louis Le Vau died in Paris.
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- Media related to Louis Le Vau at Wikimedia Commons