Fontainebleau, France

General Information

Regional secretariat

Administrative status

City in the south east of France

Palace and Park of Fontainebleau

Registration Year

1981

Historical function

Meeting point between Renaissance art and French traditions

Location and site

Used by the kings of France from the 12th century, the medieval royal hunting lodge of Fontainebleau, standing at the heart of a vast forest in the Ile-de-France, was transformed, enlarged and embellished in the 16th century by François I, who wanted to make a ‘New Rome’ of it. Surrounded by an immense park, the Italianate palace combines Renaissance and French artistic traditions.

Registration criteria

Criterion (ii): The architecture and decor of the Palace of Fontainebleau strongly influenced the evolution of art in France and Europe. The Italian artists called upon by the king, painters, sculptors and architects, decisively and lastingly oriented French Renaissance art, to which they gave its most prestigious and precious examples.

Criterion (vi): The Palace and the Park of Fontainebleau, a major royal residence for four centuries, are associated with events in French history of exceptional universal importance such as the repeal of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV in 1685 and the abdication of the Emperor Napoleon I in 1814.

Historical reference

The construction of the palace began in 1528. The modifications undertaken later by François I’s successors and carried out on different scales until the 19th century have left their imprint on the features of the present complex, which today comprises five courtyards placed in an irregular manner and surrounded by an ensemble of buildings and gardens.

The first building was constructed between 1528 and 1540 under the direction of Gilles Le Breton, the architect of the Oval Courtyard in the eastern wing of the palace. From 1533 to 1540, Rosso Fiorentino worked on the painted decor and the stucco in the François I gallery, achieving an ambitious iconographic programme where themes illustrating monarchy through Greco-Roman fables and myths. Francesco Primaticcio casted the most famous bronzes of antique Rome for decoration. He consecrated the most productive phase of his career to Fontainebleau, where he worked on the frescoes of the Salle de Bal, the room of the Duchesse d’Etampes and the Galerie d’Ulysse. Very few of the rooms that he decorated have survived, but his creations are remembered thanks to drawings and engravings that considerably influenced his time. Nicolo dell’Abbate collaborated with him. Fontainebleau is associated with other artists: a Hercules of Michelangelo was raised on a plinth in the Cour de la Fontaine; Benvenuto Cellini created his Nymphe of Fontainebleau for the Porte Dorée; Serlio drew up the plans for the different parts of the palace and conceived the entrance to the Fontaine Belle-Eau with its rustic grotto and telamons.

The gardens of Fontainebleau have also undergone important transformations over the centuries. To the east, the Grand Jardin, originally comprising a series of square flowerbeds separated by a canal, were redesigned by Le Nôtre and simplified little by little before adopting its present design, with its four flowerbeds and lawn bordered by flowers.

The Palace of Fontainebleau, a royal residence of the French sovereigns until the 19th century, was constantly maintained and enriched with artistic additions and is also associated with important historical events that occurred there, such as the repeal of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, and the abdication of Napoleon I in 1814.

Contact

M. Frédéric Valletoux

Maire
Ville de Fontainebleau

Hôtel de Ville, 40 rue Grande
Fontainebleau, France

01 60 74 64 64
[email protected]

M. Florent Besnard

Chargé de mission Unesco
Ville de Fontainebleau

Hôtel de Ville, 40 rue Grande
Fontainebleau, France

01 60 74 64 81
[email protected]

M. Laurent Roussel

Adjoint au Maire de Fontainebleau en charge des finances et du patrimoine
Ville de Fontainebleau

Hôtel de Ville, 40 rue Grande
Fontainebleau, France

01 60 74 64 64
[email protected]