BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
|| Perret, Jacques
Leu, Thomas de
|| Des fortifications et artifices...
|| [Paris, 1601]
|| Paris, Ensba, Les. 1698
||Churches, Domestic architecture, Military architecture, Urbanism
of Jacques Perret Des fortifications et artifices. Architecture
et perspective appeared for the first time in 1601. Its author,
a “gentilhomme savoysien” from Chambéry, was listed
as early as 1568 in the archives of Savoy as a “lecteur ès
arts d'arithmétique et géométrie” at the
Jesuit college of the town of his birth. Perret is also often mentioned
in bibliographical notes as a military engineer, a responsibility shared
with other contemporary mathematics teachers such as Guillaume Flamant
and Renaut Sedanois. Although no other source can confirm this hypothesis,
his work shows that he was learned in modern military science; he was
acquainted with the principles and the most important classic authors
(Vegetius and Frontinus). According to Patricia Grady, Perret
was active in Savoy until 1575, and probably moved to Paris at the
end of the 16th century after he converted to Protestantism.
Under the protection of Catherine de Parthenay and her son the duc de
Rohan whose coat of arms appears on fifteen plates of his treatise,
he was able to publish his book. The remainder of his career is not
known but the dates of his activity, ascertaining his birth somewhere
between 1540 and 1545 allow one to suggest that he died between 1610
and 1619, before the very mediocre new edition of his treatise came
out in 1620, one that he clearly had not checked.
editions Des fortifications et artifices were respectively
published in 1601, 1602, 1613 and 1620. The first, which appeared without
the place or date of publication, includes only a dedication to the
king dated July 1, 1601. It was quickly followed by a second edition
printed in Paris accompanied by a royal privilege, July 4 of the same
year. These two publications dated 1601 are very similar. They are composed
of a frontispiece and a dedication introducing twenty-six plates engraved
by Thomas de Leu (active from 1576 to 1614) and seventeen annotations
by Jacques Perret. The plates, framed with quotations from the Old Testament,
represent in plan and in perspective models of fortifications and particular
buildings. In 1602, Perret's book was simultaneously reprinted in German
and in French in Frankfurt by Theodore de Bry's widow and two sons.
Although faithful to the 1601 text, these two editions present a new
series of twenty-eight plates. In 1613, the de Bry brothers published
a new abridged version in German printed by Hieronymus Galler in Oppenheim.
Lastly, a last very incomplete French edition appeared in 1620 (dedication
to the king July 1, 1620). Texts and illustrations are incomplete and
their organization corresponds to no known editorial logic. Except for
these works, European libraries do contain some copies whose organization
corresponds to none of the great editions mentioned. This is especially
the case with those at the library of the château de Pau and in
the cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
to the original edition, the only changes brought to the copy now in
the library of the Ensba are the dedication to the king put at the end
of the volume, the order of the plates (the perspectives are placed
before the ground plans) and a double (plate 20 is produced twice at
ff. 57 and 62). In spite of the rather mediocre quality of the plates,
it nonetheless remains one of the only complete copies of the first
edition of Perret's work in Parisian collections.
The work is divided into three great themes: ideal fortified cities
and citadels, religious architecture and private architecture. Perret
first proposes a series of five regular fortified cities made up of
different types of organization, ranging from a square to polygons of
five to twenty-three bastions. Accompanied by plans and large-scale
urban perspectives which he calls “perspective du dehors”
and “perspective du dedans”, this work presents an iconography
of ideal cities in which all the constructions are repeated identically.
Although his plans grow successively larger and more complex, for each
of them he uses a combination of similar urban elements composed of
corner pavilions, row houses, terraces linked together and arcades.
This systematization of regular fortifications and of architectural
constructions in series is interesting. It takes its inspiration at
the same time from major military treatises of the 16th century
such as those of Pietro Cataneo I quattro primi libri di archittura
(1554) and of Girolamo Maggi and Giacomo Castriotto Delle fortificazione
della citta (1583), from iconic achievements like the citadels
of Turin and of Milan (which he mentions in his text) and from royal
urban programs initiated during the reign of Henri IV. This last point
placed Perret at the heart of contemporary urban research which would
be confirmed by the realization of the royal Parisian squares. The second
part of Perret's treatise, devoted to religious architecture, is dedicated
to Huguenot temples. Just as for the series of ideal fortified cities,
Perret gives three models in several dimensions (small, medium and large)
and accompanies each one with short annotations. This mixture of types,
military and religious architecture, has no precedent in the history
of treatises on fortifications and, if one considers that Perret's treatise
was published three or four years after the Edict of Nantes, it has
the merit of a manifesto. The precision of its perspectives, closer
visually to “vues” than to plans was certainly also part
of his will to legitimize the Protestant religion.
part of the treatise concerns different types of private architecture:
smallholdings, dwellings, houses, châteaux and the royal pavilion.
Since his plans are developed along vertical lines, with numerous window
openings and clearly individualized levels, the influence of the reformed
countries, notably the Netherlands, the cities of the Hanseatic League
and of England, is shown. Nonetheless, the structuring of Perret's discourse,
organized according to the social status of the occupants, also reminds
one of some of Serlio's concerns about domestic architecture. Lastly,
the wish to create a type of collective architecture inspired by the
communal Protestant dwellings, in which several proprietors lived in
one house with a single front door shared by all, is not too different
from some dwelling models of the Livre d'architecture
of Jacques Androuet de Cerceau which appeared in 1559.
treatise represents a work separate from the French military writing
of the first half of the 17th century. Its title, that of
a military opus dedicated to the art of modern fortifications,
has served it badly. Whereas the first half of the 17th century
constitutes a turning point for the implementation of new systems of
strongholds “à la française”, tested by Jean
Errard de Bar-le-Duc, a contemporary of Perret, and immediately taken
up and adapted by Blaise de Pagan, Jean Fabre and Antoine Deville, Des
fortifications et artifices appeared like a hybrid and superfluous
work. The extremely sophisticated drawings of Perret “inventor”,
which Thomas de Leu's engravings show to advantage, also added to this
current of opinion. The regularity of his fortified cities and the pictorial
quality of his perspectives, notably those in “haulte assiette”,
close to the scenographiae of du Cerceau, quickly caused his
work to be classified as an architectural “curiosité”,
valued in princely collections for its exceptional engravings, with
none paying tribute to the very personal vision of this utopian Huguenot
Émilie d’Orgeix (Docomomo International,
Cité de l’architecture
et du patrimoine) – 2006
E. Balmas, "Jacques Perret architetto riformato", Protestantesimo,
1, 1950, pp. 15-34; 1958, pp. 22-28.
E. Balmas, "La citta ideale di Jacques Perret", Studi
di Letteratura francese, 2, 1969, pp. 3-45.
D. W Booth, Architecture and its Image, Montreal, Éditions
du CCA, 1991, p. 183; cat. 19.1, 19.2.
G. Germann, "Un épisode de la vie du duc Henri de Rohan
révélé par ses armoiries", Archives héraldiques
suisses, 2004-2, pp. 168-172.
G. Germann, "Les temples protestants dans les traités
d¹architecture du XVIIe siècle", Bulletin de
la Société de l¹Histoire du Protestantisme en France,
152, 2006, pp. 345-362.
J. de Laprade, "Un architecte méconnu du temps d’Henri
IV: Jacques Perret et son ouvrage Des fortifications et artifices.
Architecture et perspective, Paris, 1601", Revue française
d’histoire du livre, 25, 1979, pp. 867-896.
M. Ng, "Collage, Architectural Inscription, and the Aesthetics of Iconoclasm in Jacques Perret’s Des foritfications et artifices (1601)", Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, 45-3, September 2015, pp. 573-584.
P. M. O’Grady, An investigation into Jacques Perret’s
'Des fortifications et artifices. Architecture et perspective', Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1993.
P. M. O’Grady, "Des Fortifications et artifices. Architecture
et Perspective de Jacques Perret, à Paris en 1601", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture
et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire Active, 2004, pp. 472-473.
M. Pollak, Military Architecture, Cartography and the Representation
of Early Modern European City. A checklist of Treatises on Fortification in the Newberry Library, Chicago, The Newberry Library, 1991,
D. Thomson, "Protestant Temples in France c. 1566-1623. A pilot study", J. Guillaume (ed.),
L’église dans l’architecture de la Renaissance,
Paris, Picard, 1995, pp. 245-256.
N. Westphal, "La place du temple dans un modèle de ville
protestante : les propositions de Jaques Perret dans son traité
Des fortifications et artifices (1601)", Bulletin de
la Société de l¹Histoire du Protestantisme en France,
152, 2006, pp. 263-374.
Y. Krumenacker, "Les temple protestants français, XVIe-XVIIe siècles", Chrétiens et sociétés, special issue, 1, 2011, pp. 131-154.
D. Wiebenson & C. Baine (ed.), The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection.
French Books, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1993, pp. 401-402.