Lescot, Pierre

Pierre Lescot (1546 - 1578)

Pierre Lescot was born in Paris in 1510. He was a French architect of the French Renaissance. He is famous for having initiated a classical architectural style "à la française" (French style), in particular by renovating the façade of the Louvre Palace. Despite Le Louvre being a very famous building, the architects of this work such as Pierre Lescot are not so famous. Therefore, in this article we tell the life and work of Pierre Lescot, the project manager of Le Louvre.  

His life

Unlike his contemporary Philibert Delorme, a French architect, Pierre Lescot did not come from a family of masons, but from a ruling family. His father, also named Pierre Lescot, was the lord of Lissy a small commune near Paris. He was also attorney general at the Cour des aides (old institution that governs tax disputes), until his death he was also a councilor of the city of Paris. The son Pierre Lescot has also followed the path of law. In fact, he has a bachelor's degree in law. But the future architect of the Louvre is interested in art, not law. And he is talented. Pierre de Ronsard important French poet of the 16th century and friend of the architect has written about Pierre Lescot that he excelled in painting, drawing, mathematics and architecture. His great artistic abilities probably led him to the court of Francis I, a king who loved artists and painters very much, and with whom he surrounded himself. Pierre Lescot died in 1578.

His work 

Although Pierre Lescot is known for his work of Le Louvre, he has created other works. For example, with the sculptor Goujon he made the fountain "La Fontaine des Innocents" in Paris.  And they collaborated again through the project of Le Louvre. 

In 1546 the ruler, Francis I, chose him as the architect of the Louvre for which he built the southwest corner of the present Cour Carrée. The king wanted a palace in the style of the Italian Renaissance, which he loved so much. When the king died on March 31, 1547, the west wing of Charles V's palace had been destroyed, but Lescot had not yet had time to implement his plans. Pierre Lescot was then reappointed as architect of the Louvre under the successive reigns of Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III until his death. Pierre Lescot was thus the architect of five kings for thirty-two years (1546-1578). Despite fluctuating royal demands, Lescot succeeded in creating a harmonious facade that was admired by his contemporaries and successors. The façade of the Lescot wing is considered the birth of "architecture à la française," which reached its peak in the 17th and 18th centuries. This new architecture combined the innovations of Italian Renaissance architecture (symmetry, regularity, use of ancient vocabulary: Columns, pilasters, pediments, fire pots...) with the French taste (slate roofs, facade with three porches, large windows with small window panes...).

The Renaissance 

The word "Renaissance" comes from the Italian expression "la rinascita" meaning "the rebirth". Renaissance architecture, which originated in Italy, gradually spread to all other European countries between the early 15th and early 16th centuries. It was the result of a conscious search for and adoption of historically authentic elements from the thought and material culture of the Greeks and Romans. In fact, to the Italian scholars of this period, the ancient age appears as the culmination of all the arts. Nevertheless, they did not want to simply imitate it, but to draw inspiration from it in order to reach or even surpass it. Pierre Lescot and also Jean Goujon are among the architects of the Renaissance. 
Although Pierre Lescot renovated the west wing of the Louvre to be used as a residence for the French king, the architect unwittingly contributed to the architecture of the most visited museum in the world. At the Louvre, Lescot introduced what is known as classicism, which some prefer to call "architecture à la française." One wing of the modern Louvre is named after Pierre Lescot.

Important works by Pierre Lescot

Hotel Carnavalet, Paris
City palace of Jacques de Ligneris, Paris
Louvre, Paris
Palace of Vallery, Paris