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French architecture

The Eighteenth Century

After c.1700 the rococo style dominated interior decoration, with its characteristic curving forms and its gilded and mirrored surfaces. Architects who worked in the rococo style included Germain Boffrand and Juste-Aurèle Meissonier, whose published designs were instrumental in disseminating the rococo throughout the continent.

Jacques Ange Gabriel's Petit Trianon at Versailles (1762) signaled a return to the more restrained, rectilinear forms of classicism. The neoclassical style of the late 18th cent. transcended the period of political upheaval that was ushered in by the French Revolution and culminated with the rise of Napoleon I and the Empire style. J. G. Soufflot's Roman-inspired design for the church of Ste. Geneviève (now the Panthéon; 1755–92) emphasized the structural role of the column. Many important neoclassical monuments were erected in Paris under Napoleon, including Charles Percier and P. F. L. Fontaine's Arc du Carousel (1806–8).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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