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Hotel de Sully

Paris, France

2003 Q2

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This issue’s limited edition print is of the Hôtel de Sully at 66 Rue St. Antoine in Paris. This outstanding French Renaissance mansion was built in 1625 by Jean du Cerceau and bought by Sully, the aging minister of Henry IV, ten years later.

The view in the sketch is of the outstanding inner courtyard of the building, a Louis XIII architectural composition with ordered decoration, carved pediments and incisive dormer windows. Allegorical figures representing the Seasons and the Elements grace the wall apsidal niches.

A History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher describes the courtyard as “dignified in scale and proportion, but over-elaborated with the coarse ornament of the day”. To the writer, the ornament actually seems delicate. The jointing of the panelling in particular is very subtle and intricate. One enters the courtyard through the restored main gate between massive pavilions. These seem powerful, but not coarse.

The main building has been restored and retains its original painted ceilings (restored also). The Duchess of Sully’s rooms have especially noteworthy painted decoration. At the far end of the garden, the Orangery opens onto Place des Vosges.

Part of the building is occupied by the Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques et des Sites (Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings Commission). Temporary exhibitions are held in the main building and garden wing.

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