The Renaissance Rooms

These three historic rooms, on the visitors’ route through the Grands Appartements, form a showcase for the French Renaissance, the foundations of which were imported by the Italian artists invited by Francis I.

The Francis I Gallery

Built to link the King’s Chamber to the gallery of the Trinitarian monks’ chapel, this gallery was originally lit from windows along both sides, until the wing was extended during Louis XVI’s reign. The first section comprised two corbelled offices, curving outwards on the north and south façades. The first disappeared after Francis I. This gallery was initially only intended for private use, and Francis I wore the key to it around his neck. It only became a public space when the King’s Chamber was moved at the end of the 16th century or shortly thereafter.

Designed along Classical lines, the series of painted frescoes on the stuccoed interior form a rich and original decorative scheme, the themes of which remain mysterious and have invited a wide variety of interpretations. It dates from 1536 onwards, and was the work of Rosso and Primaticcio. The wood panelling with the king’s monogram and heraldic symbol of the salamander were the work of Scibec de Carpi.

The Duchess d’Etampes’ Chamber

The chamber of Francis I’s favourite, Anne de Pisselieu, Duchess d’Etampes, was directly next to that of the king. Moreover, it was lavishly decorated between 1541 and 1548 by Primaticcio, who painted the stucco work with impressive mannerist figures and frescoes depicting the amorous adventures of Alexander.
The décor was finished by Nicollo dell’Abbate. Converted into the Escalier du Roi (King’s Staircase) in 1748-1749 by Louis XV, a part of the décor still remains. The painted ceiling was completed under Louis-Philippe I.

The Ballroom

Although its construction commenced under the reign of Francis I, its décor was only finally completed (after changes to the original part) under his son Henry II. The frescoes, designed by Primaticcio, were actually carried out by Nicollo dell’Abbate and date from the 1550s. Hunting scenes are depicted on either side of the chimney breast, and the pleasures of music on the ceiling above the musicians’ platform. The sides of the room are less bold, with sections decorated with scenes of mythological banquets and trophies.

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