Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

One of the greatest architects of France in the pure Renaissance style, b. at Paris about 1510; d. there, 1571. The very improbable report that he was never in Italy has been sufficiently refuted. Moreover, he was descended from the Italian family of Alessi. Francis I took him into his service, and by this king and his successors, Lescot was rewarded with many honours and with a benefice. At his death he was a commendatory abbot as well as Lord (sieur) of Clagny. With the active support of Francis I, the early Renaissance entered on a period of glorious prosperity, and in the later years of his reign displayed a distinctive character. From that time it rivalled the Italian Renaissance in its zenith, although, by meeting the demands of French taste, it became somewhat more ostentatious. Lescot proved its most brilliant exponent. For the decorations of his buildings he associated himself with the sculptor, Trebatti, a pupil of Michelangelo, and especially with the ablest plastic artist of the pure style, Jean Goujon. The perfection of their achievement depended to a great extent upon the harmonious combination of their mutual efforts. It has been thought that, even in architectural matters, Lescot was very dependent upon his friend though the latter named him with Philibert de L'Orme as the most eminent architects of France, and the accounts for the building of the Louvre designate Lescot as the architect and Goujon as the sculptor. Francis I appointed him architect of the Louvre in 1546, and with this building his fame will always be connected. For remodelling the old bastions of the fortress into a residence, the celebrated Italian, Serlio, drew up a plan which he himself afterwards put aside in favour of Lescot's design. Three sides of a square court were to be enclosed by living apartments of royal splendour while the fourth or east side was probably destined to open with an arcade. Corner pavilions, remarkable for commanding height and adorned by pillars and statues, replaced the medieval towers.

The master was destined to finish only the west side and part of the south side. The building was two stories high with a richly ornamented attic crowned by a tasteful roof. In the ground story the windows were rounded; the small round windows over the portals ( oeils de boeuf ) afterwards become very popular. In the second story the windows are square and finished off with plain Renaissance pediments. Slightly projecting members and slabs of coloured marble give fife to the massive masonry. A peculiar effect was obtained by the sparing use of rough-hewn stone in the corner decorations. Goujon's noble sculptures and the architectural ornaments, although numerous and splendid, were cleverly subordinated to the construction. The style corresponded to the "latest manner" of Bramante if as it was imitated in Italy by Sangallo, Peruzzi, Giulio Romano , etc.; it was now by Lescot, Goujon, de L'Orme, and some others, successfully adapted to French taste. The building of the Louvre was carried on with greater or less ability by several masters, and was finally completed under Napoleon I . The oldest parts of the palace are considered one of the greatest architectural achievements in France. "If among all the works of the French Renaissance we were to seek for the works of the creations which possess in the highest degree qualities which were, so to say, the aim of the Renaissance, i.e. perfect proportion of members and details, we would always be attracted finally to Lescot's court in the Louvre" (Geymüller). The rest of Lescot's works are few in number; he appears not to have sought much for opportunities to build. Although, according to a poem of Ronsard, he busied himself zealously in early youth vital drawing and painting, and, after his twentieth year, with mathematics and architecture, his wealth and the duties of his offices appear subsequently to have interfered with his artistic activity. His first achievements (1540-45) were the rood-screen in St-Germain-l'Auxerrois and the Hôtel de Ligneris (now Carnavalet) in Paris. Here and in the design of the Fountain of Nymphs or Innocents (1547-9), he again owes a great part of his moderate success to Goujon's assistance. The classical simplicity of this work had the misfortune to be undervalued during the barocco and rococo period, and received proper recognition only from a later age.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter