The topics of this blog are Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Duke of Richelieu, and the IDEAL CITY built on his command next to his magnificent CHÂTEAU on the borders of Touraine, Anjou and Poitou, in France.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Polychromy+Tuffeau

The town of Richelieu is built of the staple materials of the 17th century in Touraine; chalky fieldstone rubble, tuffeau - a very soft whitish limestone, barely more than compacted chalk - and various pierres dures - hardstones - for use in locations where tuffeau's water absorbtion is a problem.  This problem is mainly in foundation work and the first couple of courses above ground level, as can be seen in a change of stone work at low level on all but the humblest constructions.  With slate or tile roof on a oak or chestnut timber charpente, this forms the materials palette of the provincial 17th century.

However (and obviously) the town lived through the aesthetics of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries too, and some of their favourite styles can be found in adaptations to older buildings.  Here, in the dappled light of a hazel nut tree, is a typical piece of 19th century polychromy.  Tuffeau blocks interchanged with five red-brick courses, all embedded in  a much older rendered rubble wall of a rear extension building.

Often the results of this stylistic mélange seem very pretty.....


It may be a motif that is more eighteenth century than nineteenth, as one can see the idea illustrated at the fantasy farm created for Marie-Antoinette at Versailles in the 1780s.
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