The Château de Louveciennes in Louveciennes, in the Yvelines département of France, is composed of the château itself, constructed at the end of the 17th century. It was then expanded and redecorated by Ange-Jacques Gabriel for Madame du Barry in the 18th century, and the music (or reception) pavilion was constructed by Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1770–71). The pavilion sits in the middle of a park that was designed in the 19th century.
The ChâteauThe château is an approximately cubic construction, of average size and modest appearance, which borders the chemin de la Machine (n° 6), a favourite subject of the Impressionists Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley.
HistoryIn 1684, Louis XIV ordered the construction of a château in the proximity of an aqueduct built to bring water drawn from the Seine by the Machine de Marly to the Château de Marly. The king gave the building to Baron Arnold de Ville, the engineer of Liège who had conceived the hydraulic installation. The building was later given to Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, the eldest legitimised daughter of Louis XIV and his mistress Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan.
At Louise's death in 1743, the château passed to her daughter, the Princesse de Conti, who introduced Madame de Pompadour to court. At some point, the building reverted to the crown.
It was then used by the Prince de Lamballe. Lamballe was heir to the vast wealth of the House of Bourbon-Penthièvre; he was brother-in-law to Louis Philippe Joseph d'Orléans (later Philippe Égalité) and the husband of Marie-Thérèse Louise de Savoie. He died at the château in 1768 of a venereal disease.In 1769, Louis XV offered the château to his new favourite, Madame du Barry. She probably called upon Ange-Jacques Gabriel, Premier Architecte du Roi, to enlarge and redecorate the building. Gabriel added the adjoining eastern wing, as well as the decoration of carved woodwork. Louis XV often visited the château that had become known as the Château de Madame du Barry. It is there that, 22 September 1793, Madame du Barry was arrested during the French Revolution.
In the 1980s, the château was acquired by a Japanese woman and her Marseillais-born French-American husband illegally using the name of her family's company Nippon Sangyo, as a commercial asset. The couple sold all the furniture and left the building abandoned. They were sued by the company later. Occupied by squatters, the château underwent various degradations. In 1994, an attempt to remove the joinery and a chimneypiece was thwarted by the police. The owner then put the property up for sale, and it was bought by a French investor who carefully restored it.
In 1959, the house was bought by the American School of Paris, which then settled there. In cleaning the building some Nazi materials were found. The story was that while the Germans occupied the building in World War II, the French Resistance was active in the tunnels of the old stone quarries under the building. These quarries had provided some of the stone used to build Paris. The school wanted to expand by putting up new buildings but the underlying tunnels made the ground unstable. A project was initiated to pump cement into the tunnels but this was abandoned, and the American School moved to another site in Saint Cloud.