Gabriel, Ange-Jacques

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Gabriel, Ange-Jacques (1698-1782): French Architect.

Ange-Jacques Gabriel was born into a dynasty of architects related to François and Jules Hardouin Mansart in Paris. In 1728 he became a member of the Académie Royal d’Architecture, working alongside his father as the principal assistant and later as a collaborator. His father, Jacques Gabriel V, became Premier Architect du Roi in 1734, and in 1742 he succeeded him.

During the reign of King Louis XV, Gabriel redesigned and renovated the royal palaces and chateaux, bringing them up to the contemporary standards of style and comfort. Over the course of his career, Gabriel provided the transition from the fanciful Rococo period to the reason and discipline era of Neoclassicism. His work adapted the principles of antiquity to the ideals of 18th century society, while paying particular attention to the canons of proportion. His most celebrated work, the Petit Trianon, created for Pompadour, Marquise de in 1764, shows a restraint of ornament that was refreshing to the French after the decadent embellishment found during the Rococo period.

Gabriel is not known for the experimentation for which his contemporary, Soufflot, Jacques Germain, is revered. His work, in contrast, has a sense of predictability that aimed to flatter the royalty. His other works (some expansions and renovations) include Ecole Militaire, Place de Concorde, La Muette chateau, Choisy chateau and church, and the Frederikshirke in Copenhagen. He was known as one of the most important and prolific architects of the 18th century and as the last great architect of the Renaissance tradition.

Further Reading:

Christopher Tadgell, Ange-Jacques Gabriel, 1978.

Leah Sumner