The Château d'Écouen was built between 1538 and 1550 by the architect Jean Bullant for Anne de Montmorency, who was made Connétable de France in 1538. Anne de Montmorency had inherited the château in 1515, and his building campaigns were informed by his first-hand experience in overseeing royal works at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Fontainebleau.
Anne de Montmorency was a major patron of the arts in France, and a protector of artists: his chapel was decorated with sculptures by Jean Goujon, and Jean Bullant, Barthélemy Prieur, Bernard Palissy. Some of the Androuet du Cerceau family found protection and work at Écouen. Unhappily, no building accounts survive, so the precise sequence of the construction cannot be closely followed; panels of grisaille stained glass in the gallery of the west wing are dated 1542 and 1544, and the east wing was paved in 1549-50. The building was frescoed and furnished during the 1550s, in the style of the School of Fontainebleau.
In 1787 the east (entrance) wing was demolished by the owner, the Louis Joseph de Bourbon, prince de Condé. When he emigrated at the Revolution, Château of Écouen fell to the State, as a 'national property'.
Following an idea of André Malraux the castle was thoroughly renovated by architects of the Monuments Historiques, after having served as a school for daughters of chevaliers of the Légion d'Honneur, from 1807 to 1962, in order to house the Musée de la Renaissance, comprising the Renaissance objects of the collections of the Musée de Cluny, in sympathetic surroundings. A series of small, highly focussed exhibitions have been staged at Écouen over the years since the museum fully opened in 1982.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.