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Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)

Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine was a  French neoclassical architect, interior decorator and designer. He was a pillar of the Directoire style and the Empire style.

Portrait of Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, Joseph-Désiré Court

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About his life

Fontaine was born in Pontoise on September 10, 1762. Several members of his family were architects. At the age of sixteen, he left for L’Isle-Adam, where he assisted the architect André in the hydraulic work. To help young Fontaine with his studies, André gave him access to his plans and allowed him to copy his projects. In October 1779, he began his studies at the school of Peyre the Younger in Paris. There he met Charles Percier. They were friends and published several works together. Fontaine died in Paris on October 10, 1853.

Romancing The Coy Lady – by Pierre Francois Leonard Fontaine

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La Halle aux Blés, Exterior View, Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (French, Pontoise 1762–1853 Paris), Watercolor over graphite

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What were his major works?

In collaboration with Percier he worked on:

  • Arch of the Carrousel, the restoration of the Palais-Royal;
  • The grand staircase of the Louvre;
  • Works designed for the union of the Louvre and the Tuileries.
Arc du Carrousel, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine,, 1806–15

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Fontaine and Percier have published the following works:

  • Palais, maisons, et autres edifices de Rome moderne (1802);
  • Descriptions de ceremonies et de fetes (1807 and 1810);
  • Recueil de decorations interieures (1812);
  • Choix des plus celebres maisons de plaisance de Rome et des environs (1809-1813);
  • Residences des souverains, Parallele (1833).
  • L’histoire du Palais-Royal. Published by Fountain after Charles Percier’s death in 1838. Fontaine designed a tomb in their distinctive style in Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
Drawing of the Throne of Napoleon I in Tuileries Palace, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine

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How can we identify his style?

Together with Percier, Fontaine was a symbol of the Directoire style and Empire style. The Directoire style was part of the last phase of the Louis XVI style and was based on ancient Roman objects recovered from the excavations of Pompeii. The Empire style, on the other hand, was born from Napoleon’s desire for a style that was inspired by the greatness of ancient Egypt and imperial Rome.

Canopy bed, Charles Percier and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine. Benjamin Gotthold, watercolor

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Recueil de Decorations Intérieures, Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (French, Pontoise 1762–1853 Paris), Engravings Pierre François Léonard Fontaine French

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