Ange-Jacques Gabriel  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Ange-Jacques Gabriel (23 October 1698 – 4 January 1782) was the most prominent French architect of his generation.

Born to a Parisian family of architects and initially trained by the royal architect Robert de Cotte and his father (who died in 1742), whom he assisted in the creation of the Place Royale (now Place de la Bourse) at Bordeaux (completed in 1735), the younger Gabriel was made a member of the Académie royale d'architecture in 1728. He was the principal assistant to his father as Premier Architecte at Versailles from 1735 and succeeded him in the position in 1742, essentially making him the premier architect of France, a role he retained for most of the reign of Louis XV.

Gabriel's symmetrical palace-like façades for the hôtels particuliers that enclose the north side of the Place Louis XV (Place de la Concorde), Paris, were begun in 1754 and completed in 1763. That on the right housed the storerooms for the royal furnishings (mobilier de la couronne), with luxurious apartments for the intendant; it has housed the naval ministry since the court returned from Versailles in 1789.

Gabriel's sober rationality in planning and detail promoted the transition from Rococo to Neoclassicism. For forty years, Gabriel supplied all designs not only for exterior construction (the "Gabriel Wing" at Versailles was named for him in modern times) and also for the constant remodeling of interiors at Versailles. His Petit Trianon at Versailles (illustration, right) is one of the gems of French Classicism.

Gabriel died in Paris in 1782.

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