Shortly after the Revolution, in just a dozen years, from 1797 to 1809, the vast summer residence
of the archbishops of Rouen was reduced to ruins.
As property of the Church, the site at Gaillon was confiscated by the State and,
shortly after the promulgation of the law of 28th Ventôse Year IV (18th March 1796) authorizing
the sale of national properties, it was sold to Citizen Darcy. In spite of general protestations,
Darcy turned the château into a reclamation yard, thus sealing for ever the fate
of what had been one of 'the most excellent buildings in France".
Several individuals who were unable to prevent demolition managed nevertheless to buy up
some items that they judged to be the most valuable. One of these men was Alexandre Lenoir,
founder of the Museum of French Monuments at the Petits-Augustins in Paris.
Lenoir managed to save several fragments from destruction, such as the Genoa gate,
the outstanding collection of marble profile wall plaques from the courtyard
and the superb bas-relief
of St George slaying the Dragon from the high altar in the chapel,
items which were taken to Paris to be incorporated into the museum's permanent exhibition.
When this museum was closed in 1816 to be replaced by the School of Fine Arts,
the items from Gaillon were re-used by the architect Félix Duban in a huge new display
that presented them as models for the students to copy.
The château in courseof démolition
Print of Charles Percier(1764-1838)
The entrance pavilion destroyed