Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine was a French neoclassical architect, interior decorator, designer and a pioneer of Directoire and Empire styles.
Fontaine was born in Pontoise to a family of architects, on September 10, 1762. At the age of sixteen, he left for L’Isle-Adam, where he assisted architect André in his hydraulic work. Further, 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, which he published several works with before his death in October 1853.
Fontaine’s Major Works
In collaboration with Percier he worked on:
- Arch of the Carrousel for the restoration of the Palais-Royal
- The grand staircase of the Louvre
- Works designed for the union of the Louvre and the Tuileries
Additionally, Fontaine and Percier 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
Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org
Features of Fontaine’s Style
Together with Percier, Fontaine’s work was a symbol of Directoire and Empire styles. Moreover, the Directoire style was part of the last phase of the Louis XVI style and takes inspiration from ancient Roman objects recovered from the excavations of Pompeii. Conversely, the Empire style was born from Napoleon’s desire for Ancient Egypt and imperial Roman inspired style.