L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, September 8, 2017

The marquise de Montespan at the château de Clagny, by Henri Gascar

The château de Clagny was a lavish French palace that once stood in the town of Versailles, just northeast of the royal château. It was built between 1674 and 1680 to the designs of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, premier architecte du roi, for Louis XIV's beautiful and mercurial maîtresse-en-titre, the marquise de Montespan. Its construction reportedly employed 1,200 workers and cost more than two million livres. The royal gardener André Le Nôtre created the gardens, which looked west toward the much larger palace of Versailles, of which Clagny was a sort of smaller version. In 1685, as their affair gradually ended, Louis XIV gave the magnificent estate to Madame de Montespan. At her death in 1707, Clagny was inherited by their oldest son, the duc du Maine - the King had had the children born during their affair legitimized - who, in turn, passed it on to his son, the prince de Dombes. The latter leaving no issue, the château reverted to the French crown in 1766. And although it was among the most important of the private residences designed by the great architect and and even greater landscape designer, after suffering years of neglect the château was demolished in 1769.


Plan of Versailles - ville, château, and parc - in 1700, showing the location of Clagny at bottom right.
Detail of above.
Plan of château and gardens of Clagny in the seventeenth century.
Allegorical portrait of Montespan at Clagny; the putto holds a medallion of the King.
Plan of château and gardens of Clagny in 1730.
The château de Clagny in the eighteenth century.


And before we bid the lady farewell, an unrelated but very characteristic image: La Toilette de Montespan, French School, circa 1670s.


  1. what a waste. ugh.. I always think 'issue' makes me giggle a little.

    1. Haha! Yeah, I can see that. Sort of like calling your children "produce" or "fabrications" or the like. ; )

  2. The Marquise was reportedly unhappy with Mansart's original design for the house, which was on a smaller scale, dismissing it as "the sort of thing one built for an actress". This retort stung, and Louis ordered Mansart to design something grander.