BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
| Derand, François
| L’architecture des voutes...
| Paris, S. Cramoisy, 1643
| Besançon, Bibliothèque municipale, 11598
Derand was born in Vic-sur-Seille in the diocese of Metz between 1588
and 1591. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rouen. From 1613 to 1615
he studied philosophy at the Jesuit college at La Flèche, and
he taught mathematics there from 1618 to 1621. He was ordained as a
priest in 1621. From 1622 to 1629 he was in Rouen; in 1629 he was called
to Paris to finish the church of the mother house begun by Brother Étienne
Martellange. In 1633 he was cited in the building contract for the reredos
of the high altar of the Jesuit church in La Flèche; he maintained
control over the implementation directed by Pierre Corbineau, the celebrated
reredos artist from Laval. In 1643, after publishing his treatise, Derand
left Paris for Agde, summoned by Bishop François Fouquet, the
superintendant's brother. Derand died in Agde in 1644; he is buried
at the collège in Béziers.
title of architectus in building the church of his mother house
does not prove that he possessed all the knowledge of a professional.
On the building site itself, a practitioner assisted him constantly.
He was probably only there to confer, to give ideas and projects. The
only drawing extant definitely by him concerns the church of the Jesuit
collège in Paris. It is not authoritative - that is the least
one can say. Derand also intervened from 1622 to 1629 as præfectus
fabricæ, always assisted by a practitioner, in the Jesuit
church in Rouen, whose construction had begun in 1615. Perhaps his intervention
was limited to covering the central nave with rib vaults, a medieval
technique often resorted to by the Jesuits. It allowed them the optimal
use of the masons' ability. They all mastered this technique perfectly;
in addition, in the minds of the French it remained associated with
the Christian past of the Eldest Daughter of the Church.
because the rib vault was too well known, Derand deals only very rapidly
with it in L'architecture des voûtes, his treatise on
stereotomy published in 1643, his masterpiece. It is not the masterpiece
of an architect, but of a scolarly mathematician, one of the founders
of the science of stereotomy, the art of producing complex structures
in freestone, particularly overhangs and coverings in which, through
the artifice of putting in the keystone, the weight works against itself.
was a French specialty, as we have attempted to prove in the part of
our Architecture à la française (1982) entitled
"La stéréotomie, pierre de touche de la manière
française". In his Premier tome de l’architecture
(1567), Philibert De l’Orme was the first to publish the extraordinarily
varied list of arches, vaults and matched supports which constitute
a "topique" of French architecture. Derand's treatise clarifies
the analysis of these works, a materialization of exercises in descriptive
geometry. Modestly, Derand writes "les pratiques et autres connaissances
que nous prétendons vous déduire en cet ouvrage, de prime
abord et à la première vue que vous en aurez, ne produiront
peut-être que des ténèbres ou si peu de lumières
en votre esprit que si vous n’y prenez garde, vous pourriez vous
en dégoûter bientôt". This science which the
invention of the printing press had made public was in part a component
of the arcanum magisterium, the masons' professional secret.
Mathurin Jousse had published Le secret d’architecture
in La Flèche, faithfully uncovering "les traits géométriques,
couppes et dérobemens nécessaires dans les bastiments",
Ahead of Derand by one year, it prevented Derand from being the first
to publish a book entirely devoted to stereotomy. Jousse's treatise
is a mediocre book, perhaps borrowed to a great extent from Derand's
teaching at the collège in La Flèche, or even plundered
from his manuscript of the book while in the process of being written.
"Une pièce concernant le même sujet et mise au jour
depuis six mois ou environ sous le titre le secret d’architecture
m’a prévenu et surpris au milieu de mon impression"
Derand wrote in his preface, "mais je l’ai reconnue fautive".
François Le Bœuf's recent research has revealed that Jousse
was not a master mason or an architect, as was believed, but a master
locksmith and a merchant, a well-to-do erudite bourgeois who was among
the suppliers of the collège in La Flèche. The hypothesis
of copying is thus confirmed.
In his preface
Derand also cites the Brouillon projet d’exemples d’une
manière universelle by Girard Desargues, the celebrated
mathematician. Desargues did not claim to give, as did Philibert De
l’Orme, Jousse ou Derand, a "recueil de plusieurs pièces"
with no connection among them, but to resolve all the particular problems
of stereotomy by a sort of rule, the "manière universelle".
With Desargues, technique fades out entirely behind science, whereas
Derand writes, "l’on ne peut raisonnablement exiger de nos
opérations une rigueur telle qu’on la recherche d’ordinaire
ès matières de géométrie purement spéculative".
He recommends the use of the elongated circle, which owes nothing to
geometry, but everything to the practical genius of the preparer. Masons
never understood Desargues' demonstration, whereas Derand's treatise
appeared in all the architects' libraries.
technique is an art. Derand insists in vain that a vault allows one
to cover spaces longer than those covered by beams, that it resists
fire better than framework, he recognized in vain that floors can be
splendidly decorated, "néanmoins les voûtes ont toujours
je ne sçay quoy de noble". Moreover Derand's vaults are
decorated; Derand's ornamental style is a subject in itself. We know
that he designed the façade of the mother church in Paris, today
Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, often considered the paragon of the "style
jésuite" because of its ornamental overloading. He probably
designed the ornaments of this church's high parts and vaults which
present obvious analogies with the cartouches of the "style auriculaire"
contained in the titles of the treatise's plates. Are they by Derand?
Or by artists of ornamental pieces such as Jean Barbet, Pierre Collot
ou Alexandre Francine working during the 1630s? Or even by Mathurin
Jousse? Jousse's locksmithing belongs to the repertoire of that style,
and he was active as an engraver. Is it tenable to hypothesize a collaboration
between Jousse and Derand in Derand's publication which would have allowed
Jousse to plagiarize Derand in his own treatise? Several different styles
can be observed in the cartouches of L’architecture des voûtes.
Was the auricular style progressively abandoned, or was there a simultaneous
collaboration of various artists?
des voûtes was published in a new edition twice in the 18th
century in Paris, in 1743 and 1755.
Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos (Centre national
de la recherche scientifique, Paris) – 2009
F. Le Bœuf, "Mathurin Jousse, maître serrurier à
La Flèche et théoricien d’architecture (vers 1575-1645)",
In situ, 1, 2001.
F. Le Bœuf, introduction to Mathurin Jousse, Le Théâtre
de l’art de Charpentier, Bibliothèque de l’architecture
française, J.-M. Pérouse de
Montclos (ed.), Paris, Éditions de l’Académie d’Architecture,
P. Moisy, Les églises des Jésuites de l’ancienne
assistance de France, Rome, Bibliotheca Instituti Historici S.
I., 1958, 12. 2 volumes.
J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, L’architecture à
la française. Du milieu du XVe siècle à la fin
du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Picard, 2001 (1st ed.: Paris, 1982).