In this paper I trace the emergence, development, and demise of a hitherto largely ignored but peculiarly French architectural type, the domed entry pavilion. The essential features of the Porte Dauphine at Fontainebleau are traced to the elder du Cerceau's projects for portals at Verneuil I and Charleval combined with suggestions drawn from temporary structures erected for royal entries, particularly that of Henry IV into Rouen. I then propose that the formal logic of the Porte Dauphine compels one to interpret it as an architectural proclamation of Henry's emerging claim to royal absolutism, an assertion backed contextually by a close scrutiny of the sociopolitical situation at the time of its inception and erection. This new monarchic image of power finds its aesthetic maturity in the better-known domed entry pavilion of the Luxembourg Palace. This pavilion in turn is a fusion of the Porte Dauphine with alternative formal possibilities found at Verneuil II and Montceaux, the latter already an important seat of the Luxembourg's patron and Henry's consort, Marie de'Medici. In a possible challenge-and-response series, the duchess of Longueville's château of Coulommiers, its domed entry based on the Valois mausoleum, had immediately preceded the Luxembourg. Coulommiers in turn proved a foil for the immense country seat of Richelieu, itself a foil for the project for Blois promoted by Marie's younger son. Thirty years later the architect of Blois, François Mansart, sought to revive the motif of the domed entry with all of its layers of significance in his masterful designs for the east façade of the Louvre. Formally and politically such a revival was not possible in the age of Louis XIV.
- Copyright 1987 The Society of Architectural Historians