French Renaissance architecture

French Renaissance architecture is the style of architecture which was imported from Italy during the early 16th century and developed in the light of local architectural traditions.

During the early years of the 16th century the French were involved in wars in northern Italy, bringing back to France not just the Renaissance art treasures as their war booty, but also stylistic ideas. In the Loire Valley a wave of building was carried and many Renaissance chateaux appeared at this time, the earliest example being the Château d'Amboise (c. 1495) in which Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years. The style became dominant under Francis I (See Châteaux of the Loire Valley). The Château de Chambord (1519-1536) is a combination of Gothic structure and Italianate ornament. It has been said "The delight with which the masons, heaped Italian ornament onto the elaborate roofscape belongs to the late gothic spirit of ornamental largesse" [Cropplestone, Trewin (1963). "World Architecture". Hamlyn. Page 254]

The style progressively developed into a French Mannerism known as the Henry II style under architects such as Sebastiano Serlio, who was engaged after 1540 in work at the Château de Fontainebleau. At Fontainebleau Italian artists such as Rosso Fiorentino, Francesco Primaticcio, and Niccolo dell' Abbate formed the First School of Fontainebleau. Architects such as Philibert Delorme, Androuet du Cerceau, Giacomo Vignola, and Pierre Lescot, were inspired by the new ideas. The southwest interior facade of the Cour Carree of the Louvre in Paris was designed by Lescot and covered with exterior carvings by Jean Goujon. Architecture continued to thrive in the reigns of Henry II and Henry III.

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