b. 1736 Dormans-sur-Marne, France, d. 1806 Paris
One of the most successful and celebrated Parisian architects of the late 1700s, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux developed an eclectic and visionary style combined with social ideals. In 1764 Ledoux began working for the Department of Water and Forests preparing plans, deciding on repairs, and designing everything from cemeteries and schools to roads and drinking fountains. His marriage to the daughter of a prominent musician at court, however, increased his aristocratic connections, and he soon became the leading architect in Paris, designing many private townhouses for the wealthy. His position as one of the most fashionable architects of the time was confirmed when he was chosen to design a theater and a pavilion for two of Paris's most celebrated courtesans, the dancer Mademoiselle Guimard and Madame du Barry, the favorite of the aging French king Louis XV. In the mid-1780s, Ledoux designed a new wall around the city of Paris with over fifty customs posts, most of which were destroyed during the French Revolution. Throughout his life, Ledoux designed simplified, powerful geometric forms. Toward the end, his private houses became more eccentric, with odd layouts and uneven elevations. His architectural career ended when he was arrested during the French Revolution, and he spent the rest of his life compiling a book of engravings of his work.