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A History of Art for Beginners and Students

French domestic architecture was vastly improved



We cannot give space to descriptions of the chateaux built by Francis I., but this picture of that of Chambord affords a good example of what these buildings were (Fig. 114).

[Illustration: FIG. 114.--CHATEAU OF CHAMBORD.]

From the time of the reign of Charles IX. (1560) to the close of the reign of Louis XIII., the style of architecture which was used in France was called the "style of Henry IV.;" this last-named king ruled before Louis XIII., and during his time architecture sank to a very low plane--there was nothing in it to admire or imitate. Under Louis XIII. it began to improve, and in the days of Louis XIV., who is called the "_Grand Monarque_," all the arts made great progress and received much patronage from the king, and all the people of the court, for whom the king was a model. Louis XIV. began a revival of Roman classical architecture, and there is no doubt that he believed that he equalled, or perhaps excelled, Julius Caesar and all other Roman emperors as a patron of the Fine Arts.

But we know that this great monarch was deceived by his self-love and by the flatteries of those who surrounded him and wished to obtain favors from him. His architectural works had so many faults that it is very tiresome to read what is written about them, and in any case it

is pleasanter to speak of virtues than of faults. The works of Louis XIV. were certainly herculean, and when we think of the building of the palace of Versailles, the completion of the Louvre, and the numberless hotels, chateaux, and palaces which belong to his reign, we feel sure that if only the vastness of the architectural works of his time is considered, he well merits the title of the Great Monarch. But these important edifices require more time and space if spoken of in detail than we can give, and I pass to some consideration of the works of our own time.

The architecture of the reign of Napoleon III. requires the space of a volume, at least, were it to be clearly described, for during that reign there was scarcely a city of France that did not add some important building to its public edifices. First, the city of Paris was remodelled and rebuilt to a marvellous extent, and as in other matters Paris is the leader, so its example was followed in architecture. The new Bourse in Lyons, the Custom House at Rouen, and the Exchange at Marseilles are good specimens of what was done in this way outside the great metropolis.

During the reign of Louis Philippe, and a little later, French domestic architecture was vastly improved, and since then much more attention has been given by Frenchmen to the houses in which they live. The appearance of the new Boulevards and streets of Paris is picturesque, while the houses are rich and elegant. Many portions of this city are more beautiful than any other city of Europe; and yet it is true that the architecture of forty years or so ago was more satisfactory than that of the present time.

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