Warriors and Builders


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Jean-Jacques de Boissieu
French, 1736–1810
View of the Château de Madrid
Bequest of Charles Farrell

The Château de Madrid, the first and most decoratively innovative of François’s many palaces, was actually very seldom occupied by the monarch himself, or even by his son Henri II. Only Charles IX, François’s grandson, took up residence there several times during the 1560s and 1570s. After a period of use during the reign of Louis XIII, who was passionate about hunting, the château appears to have been given up as a strictly royal residence. Although he detailed funds to maintain Madrid, and even gave it over to important court figures during his reign, the great Louis XIV only ever stayed there once, while hunting in the Bois de Boulogne as a teenager. This etching features a view of the forlorn château in the distance, rising above the surrounding forest. By the late eighteenth century, the once-grand palace was abandoned and becoming decrepit; this image shows the building just prior to the first attempt at demolition by fire in 1792, which damaged the structure but utterly failed to bring it down. The Bois de Boulogne, the forested park in which the Château once stood, is now completely surrounded by the city and suburbs of Paris; in the eighteenth century, however, there is little hint yet of the city’s encroachment, as the stone houses of farmers make clear. The river Seine flows through the middle ground.