Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)

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

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

Image source: https://www.findagrave.com

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 Persier. They were friends and published several works together. Fontaine died in Paris on October 10, 1853.


Portrait of Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, Julien Léopold Boilly, 1805

Image source: https://www.napoleon-histoire.com

What were his major works?

In conjunction with Percier he was employed on:

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

Image source: https://media1.britannica.com

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. Fountain published it alone after Charles Percier’s death in 1838.  Fontaine projected a tomb in their distinctive style in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
Drawing of the Throne of Napoleon I in Tuileries Palace, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org

How can we identify his style?

With Percier, Fontaine was a symbol of Directoire style and Empire style. The Directoire style was the last phase of the Louis XVI style and it was based mostly on ancient Roman objects recovered from excavations at Pompeii. The Empire style was encouraged by Napoleon’s desire for a style inspired by the grandeur of ancient Egypt and imperial Rome.

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

Image source:  https://trouvais.com

Info sources: http://www.theodora.com/encyclopedia/f/pierre_francois_leonard_fontaine.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Fran%C3%A7ois-L%C3%A9onard_Fontaine

https://www.britannica.com/art/Empire-style

https://www.britannica.com/art/Directoire-style

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