Daniel Marot: Ambassador of courtly taste

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On this day in 1752 Daniel Marot passed away in The Hague after a long and fruitful career that took him across Europe to work for many Princely and Royal patrons. Raised in the surroundings of the French Court of Louis XIV his initial training under his father,  the renowned architect and engraver Jean Marot. Daniel then went on to work with Jean le Pautre and Jean Berain, the ornamental styles he encountered here were to be a constant throughout his long career. The artistic propaganda campaign waged by Colbert on behalf of the Sun King required the skills of many great engravers to ensure images of the buildings, furnishing and artworks created under royal patronage were disseminated far and wide. When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 it wasn’t just the prints that would spread abroad, but also the Huguenot artists and craftsmen that were involved in creating them.

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Above: Daniel Marots first work in the Netherlands, an engraving of a ball held at Huis Ten Bosch.  

Marot fled to the Netherlands where he joined relatives that had already settled there. He was quick to seek patronage of the court, the first work datable to this period is a large engraving of a ball held at Huis ten Bosch. He would later return to this house as one of his last projects, this time not as an engraver but as an architect of the two wings and new entrance that changed the house into the palace we can still see today.

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Slot Zeist, the painted staircase after designs by Daniel Marot, ca. 1686. 

Marot drew the attention of Willem Adriaan of Nassau, a cousin through an illegitimate line of Prince (later King) William III. Willem Adriaan had spent some time in Paris and had started building for himself a residence in Zeist with palatial aspirations. Marot was responsible for several interiors as well as the gardens. The monumental painted staircase is the best survival of his work here, and one of the earliest examples of a staircase on this scale in the Netherlands.

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The Queens Bedroom at Het Loo Palace. 

William III and Mary Stuart were clearly taken by the results as Marot was employed to design the interiors, furnishings and gardens at Het Loo Palace. Marot could be described as somewhat of a designing omnivore, turning his hand to all aspects of design encompassing such varied specialisms as architecture, furniture, fabric design, gardens, theatre sets, tapestries, temporary architecture, and all manner of applied arts. the fact that all of this was designed by one person meant that the result was a hitherto unknown degree of stylistic cohesion between the different elements produced by a range of craftsmen.

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The Koepel van Fagel designed by Marot and painted by Mattheus Terwesten. 

Marot received many commissions from courtiers and the upper echelons of Netherlands society over the years such as at Heemstede and many projects in The Hague. One of his most celebrated projects, though now hardly ever open to the public, is a garden pavilion room once belonging to Francois fagel on the Noordeinde in the Hague, it has since been incorporated into the gardens of the adjacent Noordeinde Palace. The ceiling is painted by Mattheus Terwesten playfully switches between dimensions, garland that hang over the cornice in sculpted and gilt stucco continue in the painting in two dimensions.

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Hampton Court palace, the parterres designed by Marot. 

Above: Hampton Court palace, the parterres designed by Marot. 

After the Glorious Revolution William & Mary were crowned joint King and Queen of Great Britain in addition to the status as Stadtholder in the Netherlands. Marot travelled across and his hand can best be felt at Hampton Court palace where he designed the parterres to the new south front, as well as working on interiors. His water gallery was sadly lost, though fragments survive to give us some indication of the concept. He was also involved at Kensington palace and even designed William III’s state coach, nowadays known as the Speaker’s State Coach.

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Petworth House, The Marble Hall, a rare example of a documented project of Marot in England. 

His role as designer on other projects in England is harder to ascertain. A clear reference can be found at Petworth House where the design of the Marble Hall is ascribed to him. There are also connections at Montagu House in Bloomsbury as well as Boughton House.

After the death of William III Marot settled in Amsterdam for a long period and started to publish engravings of his designs. It is through this dissemination of his work that his style gained popular following by craftsmen and artists all over Europe. Especially his designs for elaborate state beds proved influential, as well as patterns for textiles, gilt leather and stucco work. Marot started attracting more and more commissions for architectural projects for the wealthy mercantile class as well as the traditional court circles. For the Fresian Stadtholders he produced the designs for a new residence, Oranjewoud, and improvements to a palace in Germany at Oranienstein.

Through his own projects spread over Europe as well as his production of engravings Daniel Marot can truly be called an Ambassador of the Louis XIV style, though interestingly enough he was to popularise this style amongst the Sun Kings staunched enemies on the European political scene.

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Some of the projects by Daniel Marot have been plotted on the map. 

For more information on Daniel Marot see: Tessa Murdoch, ‘Marot, Daniel (1661–1752)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. 

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