Perret, August, José Imbert, Le Corbusier, and André Lurçat. Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949. Greiser: Rastatt, 1948
In 1948 and 1949, the French Bureau de l’Expansion Artistique Commandement en Chef Francais en Allemagne sponsored a traveling exhibition of French architecture in Germany. Produced through the participation of “Technique et Architecture” editor-in-chief André Bouxin, the complementary Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949 documents the full scope of the exhibition which examined French architecture from the medieval period forward focusing specifically on contemporary design and construction practices. The catalog includes a number of photographs of buildings, construction details, models and plans as well as essay contributions from well known architects including Le Corbusier and August Perret who celebrate the architectural practice and discuss the responsibilities of the profession in the contemporary era.
Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 G476 P477
Garnier, Charles. Le Nouvel Opéra de Paris. Paris: Ducher, 1880.
Le Nouvel Opéra de Paris is a two-volume monograph containing over 100 plates documenting Charles Garnier’s plan and design for the beaux-arts opera house. Assembled by the architect, Le Nouvel Opéra de Paris celebrates the building’s intricate orchestration coalescing technical drawings including plans, sections and details along with black-and-white and color renderings to present a comprehensive dossier. Though the façade and interior rooms receive the most comprehensive treatment, certain more rudimentary elements are also highlighted including windows, staircases, and even house seating.
On the whole, these materials construct a macrocosmic image of the theater. Nevertheless, they appear complete with those finer articulations that render the structure in situ so arresting. This is especially true upon examination of the color plates where saturated contrast distinguishes individual building components from the whole.
Library of Congress call number: NA 6840 F72 P382
Arnott, James A. and John Wilson. The Petit Trianon, Versailles: Illustrated by a Series of Measured Drawings and Photographs of the Entire Building, Exterior and Interior; Including a Large Selection of the Furniture, and Various Details of Iron Work and Brass Work, Together with a Historical Account of the Palace, and Descriptive Letterpress. New York: C. Scribner, 1908.
Last summer, the Architecture and Planning Library celebrated its special collection by highlighting a number of books concerning French renaissance architecture. The project ultimately included volumes expanding beyond the scope of the renaissance and even of the expressly architectural, examining materials from the Merovingian period onward, certain items of which were concerned with ceremonial dress, religion, and the nature of architectural scholarship. This summer, we will continue featuring these works, employing a similarly broad perspective as evidenced in this, our first installment, which looks at Wilson and Arnott’s Petit Trianon, a style manual meant to instruct the architect in the intricacies of the burgeoning neoclassic.
Organized from exterior to interior, its 97 plates provide a general overview of the building and document in precise detail specific building elements such as stairwells, railings and panels as well as furniture designs. Though light on text, the early pages of the book provide a sympathetic analysis of life in the Petit Trianon during the reign of Louis XVI, humanizing the infamous Marie Antoinette in palpably anti-revolutionary prose. Subsequent pages provide a detailed overview of each plate or sets of plates organized by object represented. The Petit Trianon combines beautifully rendered plans and details with photographs, succinct descriptions and just the right amount of socially conservative commentary to provide an excellent reference for the architect, historian or culture connoisseur.
Library of Congress call numbers: NA 7736 V7 A8
Flipo, Vincent. Mémento Pratique d’Archéologie Française: Illustré de 700 Gravures dans le Texte et de 18 Hors-texte, Tirés en Héliogravure. Paris: Firmin-Didot, c. 1930.
In the spirit of turn-of-the century positivism, Vincent Flipo’s French-language Mémento Pratique d’Archéologie Française represents an effort to reduce the architectural to taxonomic components. Flipo organizes his study rather conventionally, beginning with a chapter on materiality, but quickly moves on to a chronology of building type. This allows Flipo to establish the basic building blocks that organize medieval architecture, focusing large sections of text on each component. As he progresses, Flipo charts the evolution of earlier models, documenting them textually and with renderings of architectural components, plans and sections, and black and white photography occasionally overlaid with plan data. Flipo focuses his study on religious architecture evolution of building typologies and iconography as the Gothic becomes increasingly attenuated and ogival.
Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 F5
Mathews, Charles Thompson. The Renaissance under the Valois: A Sketch in French Architectural History. New York: W.T. Comstock, 1893.
Mathews’ English-language The Renaissance under the Valois documents in 41, high-quality historic photographs of some of France’s most celebrated architecture. Short chapters complement series of images, each organized chronologically to support Mathews’ central thesis–namely, that the French Renaissance was an evolutionary style emerging out of a marriage between the Gothic picturesque and Italian Renaissance practices filtered through a specifically French perception of the architectural ideal. These chapters are well organized and include marginalia to guide reading and quick reference. Clearly a product of the post-Napoleonic imperial era, the book takes on a resoundingly nationalist tone collapsing zeitgeist with historiography to create a document that not only reproduces in elegant visual detail the relationship between designed space and temporality, but also that which arises between the academic undertaking and its specific moment of execution.
Library of Congress call number: NA 533 M4
Blomfield, Reginald. French Architecture and its Relation to Modern Practice. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927.
Nostalgia defines this the third title in our French architecture series from the pen of Sir Reginal Blomfield. An English gentlemen, architect and scholar, Blomfield extends his considerable experience beyond the bounds of academic contribution and into the realm of criticism to celebrate purity and order in architectural design. His romanticized yearnings locate a peak in French Architectural achievement, one that slowly erodes “in the shallows and quicksands of Viollet le Duc’s medieval travesties.” This 21-page manifesto includes other such vitriolic gems extolling, by nation, the undesirable idiosyncrasies of modernist experimentation happening throughout the continent. At times, Blomfield betrays a chauvinism born not out of a natural proclivity toward racial superiority but rather emerging out of his own quintessential Englishness, a celebration of the exquisiteness of his own citizenship. And in his nationalist reverence for the past and even pastness, he recalls the Scholar Gypsy, who witnesses “this strange disease of modern life” as it “Still nurs[es] the unconquerable hope, Still clutch[es] the inviolable shade.”
Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 B5
Terrasse, Charles. Fountainebleau. Paris: Draeger et Verve, 1951.
Charles Terrasse’s Fountainebleau monograph celebrates this site of hunting and retreat, documenting its interior architecture, paintings and sculptures while chronicling its quotidian functions. Often ethereal black and white photographs as well as a few color images complement Terrasse’s prose, resulting in a truly romantic portrayal of the chateau’s exquisite interiors and collection of centuries of painted and sculpted masterpieces. Though devoid of any plans, Fountainebleau‘s assembly of visual material animates the day-to-day of royal life and all of its accompanying courtly duties within the spaces of this renaissance chateau.
ONE COLOR PHOTO HERE.
And the pièce de résistance.
Library of Congress call number: DC 801 F67 T4
Goodwin, Philip Lippincott and Henry Oothovt Milliken. French Provincial Architecture: As Shown in Various Examples of Town and Country Houses, Shops and Public Places Adaptable to American Conditions. London: B.T. Batsford, 1924.
American architects Philip Lippincott Goodwin and Henry Oothovt Milliken assembled this study of French provincial architecture to provide an American audience access to lesser known and vernacular French architecture. The book includes photographs, sketches and drawings of these buildings accompanied by an index to facilitate research. Though images included in the book are of middling quality, they represent a unique addition to the literature on French architecture, resurrecting the vernacular as a significant cultural object.
Library of Congress call numbers: NA 1041 G6 1924A
Petit, John Louis. Architectural Studies in France. New ed.; Revised Edition. London: G. Bell, 1890.
In this study of medieval French Architecture, John Petit utilizes a comparative framework to generate analyses of various buildings and building elements. The product of his travels in France, Petit celebrates his visitor status, acknowledging that the outsider who lacks cultural access notes significances that might otherwise be glossed or even neglected. It naturally follows that Petit opens with a discussion of French architecture as it relates to his experience and observation of English architecture. This comparative trope enables Petit to elegantly extend his conversation from the architectural majuscule to those bit parts which create it. Combined with engravings of significant buildings and architectural components, Petit’s Architectural Studies in France is an excellent resource for the medievalist and for those who delight in directed travel literature.
Library of Congress call number: NA 1042 P485 1890
Rouyer, Eugène. L’Art Architectural en France depuis François Ier jusqu’à Louis XVI : Motifs de Décoration Intérieure et Extérieure Dessinés d’après des Modèles Exécutés et Inédits des Principales Époques de la Renaissance.
In the opening lines of the two-volume, French language text, L’Art Architectural en France depuis François Ier jusqu’à Louis XVI, architect Eugène Rouyer and conservationist Alfred Darcel call attention to the lack of critical literature concerning French Renaissance architecture. In 1863, at the time of original publication, these Louvre scholars noted a high degree of sycophantism in contemporary writing on the period, the work of men seduced by beauty–“Mais arrivée à la Renaissance, à une époque où les documents abondent, il semble que, séduite par la grâce toute nouvelle des monuments qu’elle rencontre, elle ait abdiqué toute idée critique.” In response, Rouyer and Darcel produced a series of truly elegant building analyses unencumbered by obsequious prose and illustrated with exquisite engravings noting building details on both a large and small scale. The Cret volumes are organized building analyses first, followed by a table of contents that triangulates the location of engravings with that of its associated text. Together, these tomes represent an integral reference for the Renaissance scholar.
Library of Congress call numbers: NA 1044 R7 1863 V. 1 Copy 2, NA 1044 R7 1863 V. 2