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Boffrand, Gabriel-Germain

Boffrand, Gabriel-Germain (1667–1754). French sculptor turned architect, who made a fortune designing and building Parisian hôtels on ingenious plans, often incorporating complicated geometries, among them the Hôtels d'Amelot (1712–14) and de Torcy (1713–15). His Rococo style was of the utmost refinement, and can best be seen in the charming elliptical rooms he created at the Hôtel de Soubise, Paris (1732–9)–now the Archives Nationales: these were decorated by François Boucher (1703–70), Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700–77), and Charles Andrew van Loo (1705–65). Boffrand's exteriors are deceptively simple and reticent, influenced by Bernini's Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi in Rome, and his frequent use of the ellipse in planning courts and rooms also recalls the great Italian master's work. He was consulted by Neumann about the plans of the Residenz (Seat of the Court) in Würzburg, and made designs for Elector Maximilian II Emmanuel of Bavaria (1679–1726). For the Ducal Court of Lorraine he designed the Palais Ducal, Nancy (1715–22), and the château (1702–22) and chapel at Lunéville (1720–3): the last was influenced by Hardouin-Mansart's chapel at Versailles, and also by Cordemoy's suggestions for an ideal church with free-standing columns and straight entablature–its quality of gracious lightness looks forward to Soufflot's church of Ste-Geneviève in Paris. Both château and chapel were very badly damaged by fire in 2003. The enchanting house at St-Ouen, near Paris, with its pavilion in a court surrounded by the guest-wings and offices, was one of his most felicitous creations (1717), but, like much of his work, no longer survives. His Livre d'architecture contenant les principes généraux de cet art (Book of Architecture Containing the General Principles of that Art—1745) is an important collection of theoretical essays.

Bibliography

Gallet & and Garms (1986);
Hautecœur (1950);
K&Levey (1972);
Morey (1866);
Jane Turner (1996)

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