S’attribuer le mérite

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French baroque architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart was born on April 16, 1646. He was the chief architect to Louis XIV for whom he expanded Versailles from a hunting lodge to a testament to the power of the Sun King.  In Paris, he is responsible for the church at Les Invalides and the Place Vendôme. Mansart didn’t directly work on all of the buildings credited to him. The studio system means that they were generally created by his assistants. And although he often used the characteristically French mansard roof, this style was actually created by, and named for, his architect-uncle of the same name. Hardouin-Mansart died on May 11, 1708.

Today’s expression, s’attribuer le mérite (sat-rib-oo-ay luh mayreet) means “to take the credit” for someone else’s work. I don’t really think we can blame Hardouin-Mansart, however, that so much of other people’s work is attributed to him. He shared a name and a profession with his uncle and a studio with a horde of talented assistants. Just think of his creations as having been done “by Hardouin-Mansart and friends.”

Image Art and Architecture in France, 1500 – 1700

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French and English teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France.
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