BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
|| De l’Orme, Philibert
|| Le premier tome de l’architecture…
|| Paris, F. Morel, 1567
|| Paris, Bensba, Les 1653
||Architecture, Chimneys, Doors, Orders, Stereotomy
for a complete treatise of architecture was disclosed by Philibert De
l’Orme as early as 1561, in the Nouvelles inventions…,
which was explicitly devised to be only a part of it. This treatise
appeared for the first time in 1567 ; it then consisted of nine books
which deal with construction as a whole. The first two books contain
preliminary considerations relative to general building conditions (choice
of the site, orientation, choice of materials, etc.) as well as the
status of the architect. Books III and IV treat the basics of the edifice
: foundations, cellars, and more generally stone structures which guarantee
stability and functionality, in particular the vaults, squinches and
staircases (see below Philippe Potié’s presentation). Book
V addresses decoration with the Tuscan, Doric and Ionic orders : Book
VI is entirely devoted to the Corinthian order, and book VII treats
various ways to "composer" original orders as well as the
problem, also very important, of the French order. The last two books
deal with different sorts of openings, doors, windows and dormer windows,
along with façade organization, then fireplaces. A long conclusion
gives the author the occasion to reflect at length on the architect’s
profession. In later editions, the two books of the Nouvelles inventions
were to be the crowning achievement in becoming books X and XI.
time, such complete treatises were rare. De l’Orme obviously wanted
to compete with Alberti and Serlio, whom he no doubt was aware of surpassing,
in that he integrated technical developments in his remarks, particularly
on the art of constructing vaults, entirely unknown to the Italians.
He had multiple sources : daily contact with the building sites provided
him with all the science necessary to dominate the most concrete aspects
of the art of building. His trip or trips to Italy allowed him to amass
the most sophisticated artistic references, while the time spent in
the humanistic milieus, in Rome and in Paris, provided him with a distance
necessary for good "digestion" of that protean culture. Numerous
representations from antiquity in the book (whether it is a question
of drawings made in Italy or of copies of drawings and of other treatises
such as Cesariano’s or Labacco’s), the allusions- willingly
critical- to contemporary Roman architecture, and also the scholarly
quotations sprinkled through the work, testify to it. But as it is,
the treatise is not finished. De l’Orme did not have the time
to write the Second Tome he promised several times, in which
he would have presented his own works and put forth his doctrine of
the "Divines proportions". No doubt aware that he would not
have the time to carry his work through to a successful conclusion,
Philibert tried to integrate the planned-for material in the last books
of the Premier tome, which makes its structure rather confused
also few such innovative treatises. Far from limiting himself to copying
Serlian forms, like Goujon or Bullant, De l’Orme reduces these
models (presented as vitruvian) to small illustrations, reserving the
full pages either for models from antiquity, which are thus ranked as
paradigms, or for his own inventions. Under the pretext of "composer"
he invents totally original orders- even passing them off as antique
ones- preferable according to him to the preceding ones imposed by the
Serlian tradition. Such a capital, "composé", of the
Ionic order seems admirable to him, although its shape "par les
ignorants & fascheux pleins d’envie pourra estre trouvée
fort estrange, & peult estre, de mauvaise grace, pour autant qu’ils
n’ont accoustumé de voir la semblable & ne peuvent
louer ce qu’ils ne sçavent faire & oultrepasse leurs
gros esprits" (f. 208). In the same way, the wavy surface of the
squinch at Anet, "lequel j’ai voulu faire de forme étrange
pour rendre la trompe de la voûte plus difficile et belle à
voir" (f. 98 v°), is all the more admirable as it is extraordinary.
The aesthetics of the Premier tome are more like Serlio’s
aesthetics in the Livre extraordinaire than those of Bullant,
in his Vitruvian strictness. It is the same "fureur architectonique"
set forth by the Italian who clearly inspired De l’Orme in his
taste for originality, abundance, the variety of "excogitation".
few architectural treatises which are as personal as this. Philibert
De l’Orme the man appears here in all his facets, all the more
truthful as his writing style is very lively. He is not satisfied to
inform us of his experiences as a builder ; he shares confidences with
us in recounting one or another anecdote of his trip to Rome, as a young,
when he had setbacks after the death of Henri II, his main protector,
to whose memory he remained very faithful. The abbé de Saint
Serge of Angers, who "possède terres et vignes", remembers
that rain ruined the grape-gathering in 1555 ; at the same time, the
canon of Notre Dame, who came to live near the cathedral at the end
of his life, faithful to the chapter, steps in readily to warn against
the sin of pride and to invoke God, the true author of all his architectural
inventions, and that Philibert is only His faithful servant.
Yves Pauwels (Centre d’Études Supérieures
de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2004
his 1567 treatise Philibert De l’Orme transmitted an entire knowledge
which until then had been transmitted under the seal of secrecy inside
the corporations : the art of line drawing. Progressively established
between the 12th and the 14th centuries in southern France, the art
of creating working drawings, enabling one to master complex volumes,
would give rise to a new chapter in liberal arts. Stereotomy in the
17th century, the descriptive brochure in the 18th century would measure
the evolution of what was to become a science in the hands of mathematicians
while architects would develop the "artistique" vision inaugurated
as early as the 16th century by De l’Orme.
use of the line drawing is perceptible in the selection that he makes
among the corpus of medieval working drawings. In fact one can notice
that he never presents to his architectural student the basic models
which in good pedagogical technique he should have taught initially.
The Montpellier squinch, the simple spherical cupola, elementary works,
are symptomatically absent. Instead, one finds the Anet squinch and
the cupola on a square base, that is, two already complex vaultings
characterized by their architectural effects. De l’Orme, with
the architects, intends to "se spécialiser" in an intellectual
operation which he designates as "excogitation", not yet daring
to use the term "creation" reserved for God alone. In this
"architectural" perspective, the working drawings logically
make up the integral part of the architectural treatise, in the circumstances
forming books III and IV (whereas they would be the subject of specialized
technical works, thus separate ones, as early as the 17th century.)
of the "excogitation" method is presented using the example
of De l’Orme’s Anet squinch. Careful to persuade, understanding
the difficulty of the geometric statements, he does his utmost to explain
how it is possible to vary the medieval models by means of insertions,
in the nature of working drawings, of "cultural parameters"
which modify the final shape of the project. In the case of the Anet
squinch he explains the subterfuge by which one can insert a centered
plan à l’italienne which "onde" the surface of
the squinch in the working drawing of the Montpellier squinch. In Spain
Vandelvira and Guarini in Italy would repeat this lesson which makes
the geometry of the drawing the means of transforming, curving surfaces.
Faithful to De l’Orme’s lesson, the architects would make
the art of line drawing a rhetoric, allowing the development of a scholarly
art of diversity, or even of caprice, which the mannerist and baroque
eras in particular would exalt.
and ambiguous position of this art in the organization of knowledge
is perceptible right from the frontispiece of the treatise where Philibert
tries to enter four working drawings, without at the same time daring
to integrate them in the allegorical frame that the torches of the Platonic
bodies illuminate. If the epistemological rupture is thus displayed,
the world of the working drawing still seems to hesitate to be adorned
with the attributes of the liberal arts, the printed book representing
a symbolic attribute. The uncertain intellectual status of this art
also speaks of a world in mutation which places "invention",
"variation" as principles. Such an operating and technical
dimension would in principal forbid its entry into the world of the
liberal arts where the written word is the preferred intermediary and
the library its memory. Nevertheless, the famous allegory of the "good
architect" establishes the position of the architect by putting
a cap and gown on him. But one could say that it is on the understanding
that one reads there as inscribed on the back the figure in counterpoint
of the practician, using the great mason’s compass, who directs
his project in the allegory of folio 51. Neither art in the medieval
sense of the term, nor science, the "method" of the project
which was invented with the Renaissance discovered an intellectual approach,
"invention", which until then had no independent existence
in any discipline.
quest to recognize Art as discipline, the printed book occupied a strategic
position. In being placed in the perspective opened by Mac Luhan, everything
seemed to take place as though the possibility of placing the fragile
conservation of the hitherto oral memory on the printed word authorised
freedom and the risk of diversity. As Leroi-Gourhan pointed out, the
conservation of memory constituted a quasi-obsession linked to the fear
of forgetting for the societies depending on oral tradition. Repeating,
chanting, learning Bible verses by heart, the working drawings represented
the prime intellectual effort of these societies. The lifting of such
an "inquiétude", whose strength of memorization is
the instrument, certainly contributed to the "authorisation"
of a more freely reflexive work allowing both the emancipation of medieval
models and the breakthrough into the universe of clerks, books and the
Philippe Potié (École d’architecture
de Grenoble) – 2004
A. Ceccarelli Pellegrino, Le "bon architecte" de Philibert
De L’Orme. Hypotextes et anticipations, Paris/Fassano, Schena/Nizet,
M. Morresi, "Philibert de l’Orme. Le patrie della lingua", postface at A. Blunt, Philibert de l’Orme,
Milan, Electa, 1997, pp. 159-193.
Y. Pauwels, Théorie et pratique des ordres au milieu du
XVIe siècle : De L’Orme, Goujon, Lescot, Bullant,
Thèse de doctorat, Tours, Centre d’Études Supérieures
de la Renaissance, 1991.
Y. Pauwels, "Philibert De L’Orme et Cesare Cesariano :
le "piédestal dorique" du Premier Tome de l’Architecture", Revue de l’Art, 91, 1991, pp. 39-43.
Y. Pauwels, "Les antiques romains dans les traités de
Philibert De L’Orme et Jean Bullant", Mélanges
de l’École française de Rome - Italie et Méditerranée,
106, 1994-2, pp. 531-547.
Y. Pauwels, "Les Français à la recherche d’un
langage. Les ordres hétérodoxes de Philibert De L’Orme
et Pierre Lescot", Revue de l’Art, 112, 1996,
Y. Pauwels, L’architecture au temps de la Pléiade,
Paris, Monfort, 2002.
Y. Pauwels, Aux marges de la règle. Essai sur les ordres
d’architecture à la Renaissance, Wavre, Mardaga, 2008.
J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, L’architecture à
la française. Du milieu du XVe siècle à la fin du XVIIIe siècle, Paris,
Picard, 2011 (1st ed.: Paris, 1982).
J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, Introduction à Philibert De
l’Orme, Traités d’architecture, Paris, Laget,
1988, pp. 43-44.
J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, "Les éditions des traités
de Philibert De L’Orme au XVIIe siècl", J. Guillaume (ed.), Les
traités d’architecture à la Renaissance, Paris,
Picard, 1988, pp. 355-366.
J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, Philibert De l’Orme Architecte
du roi (1514-1570), Paris, Mengès, 2000.
P. Potié, Philibert De L’Orme. Figures de la
pensée constructive, Marseille, Parenthèses, 1996.
J. Sakarovitch, Épures d’architecture, de la coupe
des pierres à la géométrie descriptive, XVIe–XIXe siècles, Bâle/Boston/Berlin, Birkhäuser,