French architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart is considered to be one of the most important European architects of the 17th Century. Like his great-uncle, architect Francois Mansart, Mansart was a proponent of the Baroque style of architecture, and created some of the most famous buildings of his time.
Mansart was actually born Jules Hardouin, and was related to his great-uncle through marriage. Hardouin, however, so sure of his future architectural pursuits, took on the Mansart last name and was henceforth known as Jules Hardouin-Mansart, or just Mansart for short. Mansart did study under this great-uncle Francois (as well as Libéral Bruant, who designed Les Invalides, the royal veterans hospital in Paris), and was an early adopter of the classical French Baroque style that Francois originated; upon his great-uncle’s death, Mansart was bequeathed the entire collection of papers, plans, and drawings.
Mansart’s career began early and blossomed quickly. His designs for various hotels, such as Hôtel de Lorges, and also many private residences made him increasingly celebrated. In 1674, at the age of 21, Mansart was commissioned to rebuild the château of Clagny for Louis XIV’s mistress Madame de Montespan.
Mansart was appointed as Louis XIV's official architect in 1675. His first project for the King was enlarging the royal château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, then from 1678, Mansart focused on redesigning and enlarging the Palace of Versailles, as Surintendant des Bâtiments du Roi. He designed all the extensions including the north and south wings, and also built the new Hall of Mirrors from the plans by Louis Le Vau, as well as the Orangerie, the Grand Trianon. At the time of his death, Mansart was working on the Royal Chapel with Robert de Cotte.
Mansart, despite his natural talent, truly came along at the right time. There were many building projects he had the chance to undertake, and it was the peak of the French Baroque style – Mansart built many of the most iconic Baroque monuments of the period, and his position as the King’s chief architect allowed him to foster numerous collaborators and protégés (among them Robert de Cotte), that continued his work into the next generation.
Mansart’s other best-known Parisian works are the Pont-Royal, the Church of Saint-Roch, the domed royal chapel Eglise du Dome, the Place des Victoires and the Place Vendôme.