Author(s) Androuet du Cerceau, Jacques
Title « Détails d’ordres d’architecture »
Localisation Paris, Binha, 4° Res 88 (1)
Subject Orders, Roman antiquities
Transcribed version of the text


     Heinrich von Geymüller, who gave the title "Détails d'ordres d'architecture" to this collection, rightly distinguished two categories in it. The first, which he calls "Premières études", consists of nine engravings which, while inverted, go back to the ones Sebastiano Serlio drew and Agostino Veneziano engraved. The latter had obtained a copyright for them from the Senate in Venice in 1528. In the present volume, the series of the orders begins with the Ionic; it is interrupted by an engraving representing a fountain at Verneuil.
A second, more original category, called "Détails d'architecture d'après l'antique" consists of a group of twenty engravings with details of orders, mainly entablatures. On the first page, two elements refer to Vignola's Regola: The griffons of the frieze, at the left, evoke those of the Ionic frieze of engraving XIX, whereas the consoles associated with the modillions, on the entablature engraved above on the left, are almost exactly like those proposed by Vignola in his composite cornice in plate XXXII. Du Cerceau, who never went to Rome and thus could never have seen the real models, obviously was inspired by theItalian book, all of which allows one to consider that these engravings were published after the first publication of the Regola in 1562.
A few real antique fragments can be recognized in the collection, such as the entablature of the temple of Sarapis on the Quirinal, or the order of the basilica Æmilia, identifiable by the decoration of the capital (egg-and-dart molding on the echinus) or of its entablature (architrave with two facias, decoration of the frieze, modillions of the cornice). Nevertheless Androuet Du Cerceau brought a few subtle modifications, for example by grouping the gutta of the architrave in twos. At the right of this profile is another Doric profile, much less typical: the metopes and the trygliphs are not on the frieze, as would be appropriate, but on the dripstone of the cornice. Du Cerceau appreciated this sort of caprice very much, since an almost similar entablature appears a little further. In general, the collection shows the pronounced taste for extraordinary shapes, in the literal sense i.e. "outside the Vitruvian orders", and for ornamental abundance. One will particularly appreciate a Corinthian entablature in which all parts, including the three fascias of the architrave, are covered with sculptured motifs. It is very similar to the order of the baths of Diocletian which Fréart de Chambray would present in 1650 as a model of an ornate order, only to be used with infinite precautions (Parallèle, p. 69).
One can find two engravings in the collection which are not related to the others: the fountain of the château de Verneuil, which it is obviously necessary to link with the undertaking of the Plus excellents bâtiments de France, and a sacrificial scene.

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. 186, 314.

D. Howard, "Sebastiano Serlio’s Venetian Copyrights", The Burlington Magazine, 115, 1973, pp. 512-516.

A. Linzeler, Inventaire du fonds français. Graveurs du seizième siècle, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 1932, 1, pp. 58-59.

Y. Pauwels, L’architecture au temps de la Pléiade, Paris, Monfort, 2002.