Author(s) Androuet du Cerceau, Jacques
Title « Petits temples »
Localisation Paris, Binha, 4° Res 77 (2)
Subject Churches, Domestic architecture, Palaces
Transcribed version of the text


     The collection entitled "Petits temples" by Heinrich von Geymüller consists of fifty small engravings (283 x 190 mm), representing eighteen structures (including religious edifices), indicated by a capital letter and classified in alphabetical order. The plates are organized so as to present two, three or four images on a same page, with plans, elevations and cross sections.
For the most part it is a question of "temples" in the antique style, principally with a centered plan. A few civil edifices complete the series: palaces or urban residences and villas. For his religious edifices, du Cerceau was probably inspired by Serlio's Book V , which had come out in 1547 in Paris. The elevation of temple F greatly resembles that proposed by Serlio in volume 10v°; one finds other resemblances between the cross section of temple F and that of volume 21v°. The representation technique which consists of showing the edifices half in cross section and half in elevation also comes from Serlio: temple L is engraved like the one in volume 6v°.
As for the civil edifices, they are situated in the tradition of the Sesto libro, Italian in their plans organized around a courtyard with a portico and their very horizontal elevations, and at the same time very French because of their sloping roofs and dormers. The idea of the platform with corner bastions (palace F) was also inspired by Serlio. Androuet certainly had the Italian's original text since the manuscript (acquired in 1924 by the Avery Library of Columbia University in New York city) had been annotated by his son Jacques II in the 17th century.
Finally there remain a few edifices whose purpose is difficult to establish with certainty, like "temple" Q, made up of a rusticated platform carrying a tempietto with a centered plan, close to the "tempio sacro" of Serlio's Quarto libro (1537, ff. LVIIv° and LVIII), but whose four porticos with pediments obviously evoke Palladio's villa Rotonda. Perhaps it was a question of a garden folly or a hunting rendez-vous, as Serlio had imagined for Fontainebleau.

Yves Pauwels (Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2009

Critical bibliography

H. von Geymüller, Les Du Cerceau. Leur vie et leur œuvre d’après les nouvelles recherches, Paris/London, Rouam/Wood & Co, 1887, pp. 185, 201-202, 308.

A. Linzeler, Inventaire du fonds français. Graveurs du seizième siècle, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 1932, 1, p. 56.

C. Mignot, "Bâtir pour toutes sortes de personnes: Serlio, Du Cerceau, Le Muet et leurs successeurs en France. Fortune d’une idée éditoriale", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire Active, 2004, p. 441, n. 6.