Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646–1708) was the son of an obscure painter, Raphaël Hardouin. As a youth, he first trained with his great uncle, the famous François Mansart, whose prestigious family name he added to his own after the elder architect died in 1666. In 1673 he became involved with the Bâtiments du roi (the king's works), when its superintendent, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, selected him for an inspection mission to the Languedoc. Hardouin-Mansart's career was launched, and it progressed rapidly thereafter. A member of the Royal Academy of Architecture in 1675, he became First Architect of the King in 1681 and, unexpectedly for a building professional, Surintendant des Bâtiments in 1699. Only once before had this prestigious position, traditionally earmarked for the nobility, been held by an architect, Philibert Delorme.

As superintendent and first architect, Hardouin-Mansart took on simultaneously the roles of client and...

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