The Reign of Henry IV

Henry IV had a special interest in Fontainebleau. It was at his behest that buildings and gardens spread across the site of the château and its grounds.

The Baptistry Entrance - © FMR/Château de Fontainebleau

Building Works and Extensive Development Schemes

If monarchs were to be remembered by posterity purely on the basis of their architectural heritage, Henry IV would be second only to Francis I. It is in fact Béarnais who was responsible for these significant expansions, which defined the current scale of the Château de Fontainebleau.

The 17th century was a period of opulence which saw the construction of the Baptistry Entrance, the now-vanished buildings bordering the Jardin de la Reine (now the Jardin de Diane), the jeux de paume halls, and an office-lined courtyard (now Quartier Henri IV). The courtyards and gardens underwent considerable developments and improvements, and the canal was dug.

The château was lavishly decorated, notable features being the Belle Cheminée and the Galerie des Cerfs, designed by a new generation of French artists including Toussaint Dubreuil, Ambroise Dubois, Mathieu Jacquet and Martin Fréminet, members of what would become known by art historians as the Second École de Fontainebleau.

Under Louis XIII, Jean Androuet du Cerceau rebuilt the famous Escalier en Fer à cheval (horseshoe staircase) and the interior décor of the Chapel of the Trinity was completed.

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