Author(s) Marot, Jean et al.
Le magnifique chasteau de Richelieu...
Imprint [Richelieu, 1657-1659]
Localisation Zurich, ETH, Rar 1053 q
Subject Castle
Transcribed version of the text


     The Zurich suite is the long suite of prints focussing on the château de Richelieu. Another exists, shorter, with fifteen plates, under the same title. Apart from appearing to eulogize the second duc de Richelieu, the Cardinal’s great-nephew, these publications are among the rare documents of the period on the edifice which is no longer in existence. Visitors could buy the long version, dated today from 1657-1659, on site. As well as the title page, it consists of the dedication by Augustin de Buisine to the duc de Richelieu (1629-1715), the notice to the reader and twenty etchings signed for the most part by Jean Marot. In 1621 the Cardinal and Minister Armand Jean du Plessis (1585-1642) had bought back the châtellenie of Richelieu which had come into his family at the beginning of the 15th century and began to acquire the surrounding properties while at the same time beautifying the existing buildings, in particular the “new château” that his father had built but was unable to finish. He undertook a first construction campaign, but after the elevation of the châtellenie to a duchy-peerage in 1631, he asked Jacques Lemercier to transform the existing château into an edifice worthy of its new rank, for which the town was to serve as backdrop. The scale and orientation of the château were changed.
Unlike the short suite, the long one presents six views in perspective including the celebrated general view with the gardens, engraved by Jean Marot and Jean Le Pautre in the spirit of Israël Silvestre’s views. Marot provides an invaluable plan of the ground floor of the château datable to the 1660s, in which the corps de logis (corresponding to the old building retained from the “new château”) is clearly askew in relation to the two wings, probably a concession to the attachment of the master of the house to his past. The busts and the statues on the façades, particularly those decorating the entrance gatehouse, identified, give an idea of the Cardinal’s prestigious collection of Antiquities which attracted many visitors to Richelieu.
Even if the engravings are not always exact, or even if they do not always correspond to what Lemercier achieved, they render a complete account in a knowledgeable reconstitution of the ambitious architectural project Richelieu wanted, although the château, with its U-shaped plan, a corps de logis framed by two simple wings and the cour d’honneur closed off by a wall in the form of a grill, was hardly innovative at that date.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2013

Critical bibliography

B. Bouyx, Jean Marot, Architecte parisien du XVIIe siècle, Masters thesis, under the direction of A. Schnapper and C. Mignot, Université de Paris-IV, 1989. 2 vol.

K. Deutsch, “ ‘Le magnifique château de Richelieu’ par Jean Marot. Représentation et panégyrique. De la relation entre l’architecture et sa représentation dans les gravures ”, B. Gady, B. Gaehtgens & J.-C. Boyer, Richelieu patron des arts, Paris, Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2009, pp. 55-74.

K. Deutsch, “Le Magnifique chasteau de Richelieu par Jean Marot”, Richelieu à Richelieu. Architecture et décors d’un château disparu, Milan, Silvana editoriale / Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts / Tours, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 2011, pp. 415-423 ; cat. 173, pp. 427-429.

A. Gady, Jacques Lemercier Architecte et ingénieur du Roi, Paris, Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2005, pp. 264-277.

Richelieu à Richelieu. Architecture et décors d’un château disparu, Exhibition catalogue, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans, of Tours and the Musée municipal de Richelieu (March 17-June 13, 2011), Milan, Silvana editoriale / Orléans, Musée des Beaux-Arts / Tours, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 2011.

C. Toulier, Le château et la cité idéale de Richelieu, Orléans, Berger M. Éditions, 2005.

H. Wischermann, Schloss Richelieu. Studien zur Baugeschichte und Austattung. PhD dissertation, Université de Fribourg, 1973.