BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
Antoine Deville or De Ville, (1596-1656), a native of Toulouse and military engineer, owed his fame to his work entitled Les fortifications. The first edition of it came out in Lyons when he was thirty-two years old. Both an astute mathematician and a practitioner, Antoine Deville was in all likelihood educated at the Jesuit collège in Toulouse; he had a very mediocre memory of it, mentioning in one of his letters that after having wasted three years studying philosophy with the Jesuits, he found that he was "more ignorant and muddled than before". He began his military career very early, participating in various campaigns against the Protestants during the 1620s. Enlisted as a member of the Household Cavalry at the siege of Montauban in 1621, he participated in the siege of La Rochelle in 1624, then in the campaigns against the Huguenots in the Southwest and in the southern part of the Massif Central. In 1626 he pursued his career in the Netherlands, in the batallions of Charles Emmanuel I, the Duke of Savoy. He won renown when he was awarded the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus. Taking advantage of a short permission, he took a trip to Italy, particularly to Rome and the Kingdom of Naples where he gathered together the documentation necessary for the publication of his work on fortifications. During this trip Artemisia Gentileschi painted his portrait, when he was just twenty-seven years old. Antoine Deville next enlisted in Italy in the service of the Republic of Venice, from 1630 to 1635. We are acquainted with this episode because of his brief correspondance with Galileo about the Discourse on the Two New Sciences that Galileo was getting ready to publish. Considered by Fulgenzio Micanzio, Galileo's Venitian friend, "a great mathematician and valuable in mechanics", Deville was requested to reread the scientist's pages. But he hardly had the leisure to go deeper into Galileo's annotations, complaining about a very busy schedule of numerous inspection missions in Istria, Dalmatia, Slavonia, on the borders of the papal states, on the Po and about his restoration work on the Mantua and Bergamo fortifications. His very precise architectural plans of the Palazzo del Te in Mantua probably date from this period (the manuscript of the plan is now at the library of the Service Historique de l’Armée de Terre in Vincennes). Nevertheless Deville turned to good account his visit of the fortifications of the port of Pula in Istria (today Croatia), then under Venitian rule, and published in Venice, in 1633, Descriptio portus et urbis Polæ in Latin. The same year he published a scholarly opuscule in Latin, Pyctomachia veneta, seu pugnorum certamen venetum, in which he held forth on the old Venitian tradition of battles and fistfights organized annually in each district of the city. These two texts were to be drawn on fully in 1722 in the Thesaurus antiquitatum et historiarum Italiæ published in Amsterdam by Peter van de Haa. In France again in 1635, probably called back by Richelieu to whom he dedicated his subsequent publications, Antoine Deville participated in the defense of Corbie, then in the siege of Hesdin at the end of which he was named brigadier in 1639. On that occasion he published two long descriptions of these sieges, respectively entitled Obsidio Corbiensis and Le siège de Hesdin. His last work was published that year, De la charge de gouverneurs des places, which although devoted to military logistics, is accompanied by a short text on fortification. There is no documentation on the end of his career, but according to Yves Brunat's research, it seems that he was active in Artois and Picardy until his death in 1656.
Émilie d’Orgeix (Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris) – 2009
Y. Bruant, "Les traités d’architecture militaire français à la fin du XVIe siècle et au début du XVIIe siècle", J. Guillaume (ed.), Les traités d’architecture de la Renaissance, Paris, Picard, 1988, pp. 477-484.
B. Colson, L’art de la guerre de Machiavel à Clauzewitz, Namur, Presses universitaires de Namur, 2002, pp. 69-72.
A. Du Mège, Bibliographie toulousaine, ou dictionnaire historique des personnages…, Toulouse, Veuve Navarre, 1823, 1, p. 444.
J.-F. Pernot, "L’école française de fortifications", I. Warmoes & V. Sanger (ed.), Vauban Bâtisseur du Roi-Soleil, Paris, Somogy, 2007, pp. 55-61 and comment 26 by V. Sanger, p. 158.
J.-F. Pernot, "La guerre et l’infrastructure de l’État moderne : Antoine de Ville, ingénieur du roi (1596 ?-1656?), la pensée d’un technicien au service de la mobilisation totale du royaume", Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 34, juillet-septembre 1984, p. 407.
J.-F. Pernot, "Un aspect peu connu de l’œuvre d’Antoine de Ville, ingénieur du roi (1596 ?-1656?) . Approches d’un type de documents : les gravures des traités de fortifications", Revue historique des armées, 1978, pp. 29-58.
M.D. Pollak, Military Architecture Cartography and the Representation of the Early Modern European City : A Checklist of Treatises on Fortification in the Newberry Library, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1992, n° 22.
H. Vérin, "Galilée et Antoine de Ville : un courrier sur l’idée de matière", J. Montesinos &y Carlos Solis (ed.), Largo Campo di Philosophare, Eurosymposium Galileo, Madrid, Orotavia 2001, pp. 307-322.
H. Vérin, "Un lecteur intéressant", Cahiers de Science et Vie, Dossier Galilée, 61, février 2001, pp. 68-71.