BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
|| Bullant, Jean
|| Reigle generalle d’architecture... reveue et corrigee...
|| Paris, A. Sittart, 1619
|| Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, I 351
page of the 1619 edition is very enticing. It announces in fact that
the Reigle by Jean Bullant (who is not named) has been "revue et
corrigée" by Salomon de Brosse,
the architect of the palais du Luxembourg. A certain Nicolas Piloust
was apparently responsible for initiating this revision, as he presents
himself as a friend of the bookseller Sittart. This Piloust is
otherwise known for having written a certain number of books having
no connection with architecture : La bienveillance royalle contre
les envieux (Paris, 1620), Le chant d’allégresse
sur le retour de la Royne, mère du Roy, en la faveur de la ville
et bourgeois de Paris (Paris, 1620), Le triomphe de la joye
sur l’heureux retour du Roy en sa ville de Paris (Paris,
1622) and a novel, Le chevalier enchanté (Paris, 1618).
In the circumstances, requested by the bookseller, he apparently took
the editing work upon himself, rewriting the text to make it smoother
for contemporary ears, and requested Salomon de Brosse to set the illustrations
in order. He wrote the dedication and the headword. An enthusiastic
and anonymous acrostic sonnet, in the A4 folio, is dedicated to him,
in a rich decorated frame in which architect's tools are inserted in
a stucco décor.
one can notice a few modifications in comparison with the 1568 edition.
The book is henceforth paginated ; the dedication and the headword were
brought up to date. But, in spite of Piloust’s declarations, the
text remains the same as the 1568 text, with the exception of tiny details,
with a different typography. Thus the examination of this edition proves
to be disappointing in comparison with the hopes raised in the title.
In fact, Salomon de Brosse’s participation is very limited ; there
is no "augmentation". On the contrary, the detailed plates
on the Corinthian order added by Bullant in 1568 to folios G and G2
were deleted, as well as the annotations relating to them. For this
reason the book has two fewer leaves than the preceding edition. As
for the "revision", it is limited to setting in order certain
plates added in 1568, in particular the new ones representing the Doric
order interpolated between plates illustrating the Ionic order (ff.
C4-D in 1568 ; in 1619, pp. 17-19). In other respects, the editor rectified
the caption in folio D3 of the 1568 edition describing the Temple of
Virile Fortune as "Doric", and adds the explanation "faute
(sic) de pierre tiburtine" (p. 29). Another "correction"
: whereas in 1568 Bullant represented two types of leaves to ornament
the Corinthian basket in folio F2 verso, an acanthus leaf and a laurel
leaf, the new version stopped at the latter (p. 44), more frequent it
is true in the real capitals, and it conforms curiously to the first
1564 edition in which Bullant presented it, though without naming it.
On the other hand there appear a few typographical errors : the "porte
ionique" on page 37 and the "volute composite" on page
54 were printed backwards, the Doric order on page 11 is called the
"dioqure" order (sic) of the Theater of Marcellus,
whereas it concerns a theoretical model, and the illustration in folio
F which should represent an order "corinthe selon la doctrine de
Vitruve" is really the plate representing the order of the Temple
of the Dioscuri, which moreover reappears in its legitimate place on
was Salomon de Brosse’s real role in this matter? It wasn’t
necessary to have recourse to a great architect to put this edition
in order. No doubt he was satisfied to lend his name to ensure that
a slightly old treatise gain contemporary legitimacy, and that this
would confer upon him new prestige in the eyes of his clients. The 1619
edition was more a commercial affair than a "scientific" one
in the modern sense of the term. Nonetheless it was somewhat successful
; it is the one that Savot mentions in 1624 in the "bibliographie"
of his Architecture françoise des bastimens particuliers : "Bullan
(sic) des cinq ordres de colonnes, reveue par le Sieur de Brosse
Architecte de Roy" (p. 324). And it was also the one used by the
honorable members of l’Académie d’Architecture when
they began on March 5, 1672 to read the treatise : "Examinant les
livres des ordres d’architecture de Jean Bullant et les conférant
avec ce qu’il fit bâtir tant à Ecouen, à Chantilly
qu’ailleurs, on a jugé que c’était un architecte
de grand mérite, qui a suivi, par une méthode facile,
la doctrine de Vitruve dans ses écrits et fait voir dans ses
ouvrages la beauté de son génie. Ses écrits ont
été en si grande estime que M. de la Brosse, architecte
du Roi, a bien voulu se donner la peine de les commenter" (Procès
verbaux de l’Académie d’Architecture, Paris,
ed. H. Lemonnier, 1911, I, p. 12).
Yves Pauwels (
Centre d’études supérieures
de la Renaissance
, Tours) – 2006
F.-C. James, Jean Bullant. Recherches sur l’architecture française
au XVIème siècle. Thesis, l’École nationale
des Chartes, 1968 ; abstract in École nationale des Chartes,
Positions de thèses, 1968, pp. 101-109.
Y. Pauwels, "La fortune de la Reigle de Jean Bullant",
Journal de la Renaissance, 3, 2005, pp. 111-119.