The walls of Chambord, the next vast chateau of the early French Renaissance, are adorned with pilasters as at Blois, though the design below the cornice is much simpler. Above the cornice, however, it is the richest of all the great French chateaux, and with its steep roofs and manifold dormers, chimneys, and central lantern, it presents an aspect which for multiplicity of soaring features resembles a late Gothic building. It is not worth while to give an extended analysis of its redundant details which, with its vast chimneys adorned with free-standing orders, niches, panelled surfaces, and pinnacles; its dormers with overlaid orders of pilasters, pediments, scrolls, and endless filigree ornaments; and its great lantern with inverted consoles on entablatures forming flying-buttresses (where there is nothing to be buttressed), make up a bewildering complex without structural meaning or artistic merit. Viollet le Due has well remarked that "Chambord est au chateau feodal des XIII et XIV e siecles ce que l'abbaye de Theleme est aux abbayes du XII e siecle : e'est une parodie."
The same general character, though in less florid development, marks those parts of Fontainebleau which are contemporaneous with Blois and Chambord. This is true also of Ecouen, where the architectural scheme is comparatively simple. Instead of superimposed orders the walls of Ecouen are adorned with continuous pilasters banded by the mouldings of entablatures that crown each of the stories. These details are in very shallow relief, the wall spaces enclosed by them are not panelled as at Blois and Chambord, and the windows have no framing members. Even the dormers have a marked sobriety of design, though they are framed with small orders, and crowned with fantastic pediments made up of classic elements and filigree ornaments.
The architect Bullant, who appears to have had a large part in the design of Ecouen, was among the first French architects of the Renaissance to travel in Italy. In Rome, as he tells us in his book,1 he had measured some of the ancient monuments, and in the great portico of the court he reproduced the order of a Roman temple.2 This portico embraces both stories of the building, and is, I believe, the earliest example in France of the reproduction of an ancient order without any admixture of mediaeval details, or Italian corruptions. In the main body of the building it was natural that the architect should modify and adjust his neo-classic details in the prevailing manner of his time; but this colossal portico gave him an opportunity to carry out fully the classic Roman ideas which he appears to have imbibed during his Roman sojourn. It was impossible, however, to make any organic connection between this ancient scheme and the building to which it is attached, and it stands against the fagade as an utterly foreign interpolation.
An exceptional building of the early French Renaissance is the chateau of St. Germain en Laye. The top story of this building is vaulted, and to meet the vault thrusts a series of deep buttresses is ranged along each fagade. These buttresses are connected by arches at the level of the floor of the principal story3 and beneath the main cornice, and entablatures, which crown the basement and the principal floor, break around them. They are adorned with pilaster-strips of Romanesque proportions, connected by small blind arches, capped by ressauts of the main cornice, and pierced with water-ducts ending in gargoyles. The arched windows are in pairs (one pair in each story between each pair of buttresses), and are framed with pilaster-strips and entablatures surmounted with pediments. The balconies formed by the ledges over the lower arches are enclosed with balustrades, and balustrades connect the buttresses over the main cornice. The roof is very low and invisible, thus there are no dormers, but large chimneys ornamented with blind arcading break the sky line.
1 Reigle Generalle de Architecture, etc., Paris, 1568.
2 Said by Palustre, E Architecture de la Renaissance, p. 176, to have been " servilement imite du temple de Jupiter Stator."
3 These lower arches are concealed from view on the external facades by a basement wall.
Such is the early Renaissance architecture of France. Notwithstanding its factitiousness, and its ornamental incongruities, it still has, as I have said, a distinctly French expression, though it has not the reasonable character of the native art of the Middle Ages in its integrity. But the departure from their own ideals and traditions was destined to be carried further, and at length to reach results which should still more profoundly contradict the true native spirit. This further transformation was wrought during the second half of the sixteenth century under the influence of several noted architects who stand in relation to the French Renaissance very much as Vignola, Palladio, and their followers stand in relation to that of Italy. The art of these men will be considered in the next chapter.