Gaillon, home of the Renaissance (1)
"The most beautiful and the finest place in the whole of France" (Bonaventura Mosti, september 1508)
In little more than ten years, from 1498 to 1509, the cardinal archbishop of Rouen, Georges I d'Amboise,
transformed the prdecessors' former summer residence into a spectacular château.
The cardinal spared neither his effort nor his financial resources, and called on all the talents:
artists and master craftsmen representing every skill converged on Gaillon in Normandy
from the royal building projects in the Loire Valley, from the north of Europe, and from Italy.
The imposing architectural complex he commissioned was lavishly decorated with sculptures, paintings
and gilding, inside and outside, the courtyard and garden were each adorned with a marble fountain
imported from Italy, while the rooms were filled with masterpieces (by Perugino, Andrea Solario
and a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper) and illuminated books, rich wall-hangings and valuable furniture.
In September 1508, even before the château was quite finished, the cardinal with a taste for luxury
ensured that it won international renown by receiving at Gaillon the King of France, Louis XII,
his queen Anne de Bretagne, the court, and the ambassadors and envoys from England, Spain, Venice,
Florence, Montua and Ferrara.
After Georges I d'Amboise, his successors to the Rouen archiepiscopacy, such as Charles de Bourbon,
François de Harlay and Jacques-Nicolas Colbert, would strive not only to preserve the work
of their illustrious predecessor, but also to enlarge, improve and beautify it.
Thus, the château as it was before the French Revolution had tripled in surface area, with a succession
of courtyards and pleasant retreats that contained collections of paintings, sculptures and exotic trees.
The Château de Gaillon, seen from the north
The Château de Gaillon, seen from the south
Perspective view of buildings and the gardens
The Château de Gaillon, looking north-east