BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
||Le Blond, Jean
Deux exemples des cinq ordres de l’architecture antique...
||Paris, published by the author, 1683
||Paris, Ensba, 21426
Jean Le Blond came from a family of artists and engravers -(he was the nephew of a first Jean Le Blond who died in 1666, painter to the king, himself the son of a print publisher)- who was linked to the Hardouins at the beginning of Louis XIV’s reign. He was a painter and became a member of the Royal Academy of Painting in 1681 ; nevertheless it was as an engraver that he wasinvolved in architecture. He engraved several depictions of the works of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, after obtaining a royal privilege in 1683, the very year that the treatise was published.
The Deux exemples de l’architecture antique et des quatre plus excellents auteurs qui en ont traité is dedicated to Le Brun, whose role within the Academy of Painting is mentioned along with his participation in the Academy of Architecture. This book is a rerun of Roland Fréart de Chambray’s celebrated Parallèle, published in 1650, from which Le Blond borrowed not only the principle but also the choice of the orders without ever citing Chambray or his book. He nevertheless limited his choice to a few antique orders and the four modern ones designated by Fréart de Chambray as the most advisable ones : Palladio, Scamozzi, Vignola and Serlio. Although of lesser quality, the copperplates are faithful versions of Charles Errard’s 1650 engravings, and are usually accompanied by brief commentaries. Le Blond’s contributions consist of representing the orders, standing, with or without a pedestal, and laid out as colonnades and arcades according to the principle in Vignola’s Regola and in Palladio’s Quattro libri. He added two representations in perspective (a corner capital from the Temple of Portunus, and a sarcophagus from the Pantheon) as well as a few specifically French details : a balustrade from the Luxembourg, a scabelone from the Louvre and a French order with a Corinthian-type capital embellished with dolphins and fleurs-de-lis, very probably to be put in connection with the experiments conducted for the third level of the courtyard at the Louvre, or with Le Brun’s proposals for the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
The book was republished with the same copperplates in 1710 and 1716 by Jean Mariette under the title Paralelle (sic) des cinq ordres d’architecture, probably less for its intrinsic interest than because of the influence gained at that time by Le Blond’s son Jean-Baptiste-Alexandre (1679-1719), an architect and theoretician of high caliber whom Mariette admired a great deal.
Yves Pauwels (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2013
B. Jestaz, Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Vie et œuvre, Paris, Picard, 2008, pp. 201-202.
M. Préaud, Inventaire du fonds français. Graveurs du XVIIe siècle, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 7, 1976, pp. 298-300.
K. Russo, Jean LeBlond (c. 1635-1709), notice III-A-20, D. Wiebenson (ed.), Architectural Theory and Practice from Alberti to Ledoux, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1982.