BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
C’est l’ordre qui a été tenu à la nouvelle et joyeuse entrée, que... Henri deuxième... a faite... en sa bonne ville... de Paris...
||Paris, J. Dallier, 1549
||Paris, Binha, 8 Res 531
Among the numerous entries that Henri II made after his succession in 1547, the one into Paris, in June 1549, took on a particular importance. The greatest names in French literature and art participated in it more or less directly: in poetry, Thomas Sébillet, Ronsard and du Bellay. The latter wrote a pompous Prosphoneumatique;for the conception and the editing of the booklet, Jean Martin, the illustrious translator of Vitruvius; in architecture, Jean Goujon (who was also responsible for engraving the plates of the booklet), Pierre Lescot and Philibert De l'Orme; in painting, Jean Cousin, who no doubt executed the "plate peinture" representing "Lutetia Prima Pandora". This extraordinary meeting of talents made the ceremony a sort of manifesto if not of "neo-clacissism", as François Gébelin said as early as 1924, at least of the new art which was going to develop during the reign of the young king.
The aesthetics advocated by the Pléiade, particularly in the Défense et Illustration de la langue française published by du Bellay that same year, 1549, broke fundamentally with the "humble" style of Clément Marot and his imitators; in the same way, the architectural style developed in the temporary structures created by Goujon or Lescot had nothing any longer in common with the flowery and amiable style of the châteaux of the preceding reign. By substituting a resurrection of the Roman-style triumph for the medieval festivity, the entry designers ennobled the nature of the entries, and the architectural repertoire which would henceforth decorate the cities took on another dimension. A symbol of this stylistic metamorphosis, the arch of triumph was indispensable from then on in the ephemeral productions as in real architecture, in the Louvre, at Anet, at Écouen. Du Cerceau had understood this very well, publishing his XXV exempla arcuum during the same year, 1549. More generally, the ornamental "badinage" of the châteaux of the Loire gave way to an elevated sublime style. Ronsard's Odes, about to be published, provided a poetic equivalent.
The architectural models developed by Goujon and Martin in the booklet, which no doubt differ from the ephemeral productions, come from Serlio's treatises. The Serlian orders appear in the canonical order: Tuscan and Doric on the Porte Saint-Denis, Ionic at the fountain of the Ponceau, Corinthian in front of Saint-Jacques de l'Hôpital, composite at the fountain of the Innocents (the sole evidence still in existence of the festivity) and "composé" in the arch of the Notre-Dame bridge. In addition, the structures of these buildings are obviously amplifications of the Serlian "commonplaces", chosen both in the Quarto libro (Porte Saint-Denis, fountain of the Innocents) and in the Terzo libro (the Saint-Jacques arch is inspired by the Pola arch), or even, in the case of the arch of the Notre-Dame bridge, in the Extraordinario libro. The book was not published until 1551, but Jean Goujon must have been acquainted with the drawings in it, for his direct links with Serlio have been certified.
Jean Martin's text also testifies to a solid architectural culture; one would not expect less from the translator of Vitruvius. Certain figures of speech show that the author's science comes especially from reading the Quarto libro attentively. Thus, Martin speaks of "proportion diagonée" for the Doric pedestals of the Porte Saint-Denis arch. This is the exact term used by the Italian ("proportion Diagonea").
The most original forms are the those one might attribute to De l'Orme: the arch of the Palace, where on the lower third of the columns one finds a vegetal decoration similar to the one that decorates the Corinthian order of the forecourt at Anet, and the arch with a hall on the next storey, built across rue Saint-Antoine in order to close off the lists of the tournaments (the engraving is not found in all the copies of the work).
The booklet was published by two editors, Jacques Roffet, who had received a privilege for the year on March 31, 1548, and Jean Dallier, whose edition is reproduced here, without a privilege. The differences are minimal, limited to four page transitions (7-7v°, 11v°-12, 31v°-32 and 36v°-37). In the present copy Jean Dallier adds the report of the coronation of Catherine de Medici, absent from Roffet's copies.
Yves Pauwels (Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2012
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