BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
Grégoire Huret was born in Lyon in 1606 and died in Paris in 1670. He was a draftsman and engraver, as such taken in to the Royal Academy of Painting in 1663, in place of Abraham Bosse, who had been dismissed from the learned assembly in 1661. At the end of his life he entered into a lively argument with Bosse about questions of perspective. His Optique de portraiture (1670) develops a doctrine opposed to the method that Bosse had taught at the Academy. His interest in the questions of perspective was also his motivation for writing La regle precise, pour descrire le profil eslevé du fust des colomnes, which is an attempt to apply the rules of perspective and geometry in representing architecture, the orders of columns in particular. According to Huret, these rules could concern artifacts only, for concerning natural fibers “geometry has no power, since all contours of the aforementioned figures are unknown curves and perpetual nuances” (Foreword, p. 2). Therefore it would be a matter of “decoratable architecture”. The treatise, rather short, is divided in two parts. The first part, technical, explains the rules for drawing the Doric order according to the mathematical method. In the second part, entitled “on the arrangement of the architectural orders” (p.11), the author returns to general problems on the use of the orders: he passes judgment on the Tuscan and the composite orders (in the tradition of Fréart de Chambray), he mentions problems of the placing of Doric columns in relation to the spacing of the triglyphs, of pertinence of pedestals, and the structure of the façade. His conclusion is paradoxical but logical on the part of an engraver. Since concerning architecture, “one hundred things can still be said about it which will seem reasonable, about which there will nonetheless be some pros and some cons. Therefore he who will wish to stop at all these opinions will come to no conclusion”. So one must admit that he art of building is only one part of the art of portrait painting, “which is truly the king of the arts”.
Yves Pauwels (Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2013
A. L. Clarck Jr., “La passion de Madrid: Grégoire Huret dessinateur. Réflexions sur son invention, sa narration, son style et sa méthode”, Nicolas Sainte Fare Garnot (ed.), Dessins français aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, Paris, École du Louvre, 2003.
E. Brugerolles & D. Guillet, “Grégoire Huret, dessinateur et graveur”, Revue de l’Art, 117, 1997, pp. 9-35.