Bélanger, François-Joseph

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Bélanger, François-Joseph (1744–1818). Paris-born architect, the most important landscape-architect and the most refined of the Neo-Classicists working in the France of Louis Seize. Appointed Dessinateur des Menus-Plaisirs du Roi in 1767, he met Charles-Joseph, Prince de Ligne (1735–1814), in 1769, for whom he designed fabriques for the celebrated gardens at Belœi, Belgium. In 1770–1 he designed the lovely pavillon à l'antique for the Comte de Lauragais's Hôtel de Brancas in Paris. For Charles-Philippe, Comte d'Artois (1757–1836—later King Charles X (reigned 1824–30)—to whom he had become premier architecte), his design for the exquisite Parva sed Apta (small but fitting) Neo-Classical Pavillon de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris, was erected in 64 days in 1777 to win a bet with Queen Marie-Antoinette (1774–93). The main bedroom was designed as a tent, and the whole building set in the most celebrated ‘English’ garden of the period (1778–80), with many Gothick, Chinoiserie, and other fabriques, designed by Bélanger and created by the Scots landscape-gardener Blaikie. At Neuilly, the Folie Saint-James (c.1780) was placed in a large jardin anglo-chinois in which were many famous fabriques, including kiosks, grottoes, Chinese pavilions, and a massive artificial rock (the Grand Rocher, known as the Eighth Wonder of the World) containing a bathroom, reservoir, grotto, and art gallery. He designed the extraordinary gardens and fabriques at Méréville, near Étampes, for the Court Banker, Jean-Joseph, Marquis de Laborde (1724–94), held to be superior to anything by William Kent, from 1784, and was succeeded there by Hubert Robert, who dishonestly claimed the designs were his alone. Bélanger's dome of the Halle au Blé in Paris (1808–13), probably the first such iron-and-glass structure in the world, replaced the timber-and-glass dome by Legrand and Molinos (1782).

Bibliography

Builder (1980);
Deming (1984);
Middleton & and Watkin (1987);
Racine (ed.) (2001);
Mosser & Teyssot (eds.) (1991)