Author(s) Bullant, Jean
Title Reigle generalle d’architecture... reveue et corrigee...
Imprint Paris, A. Sittart, 1619
Localisation Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, I 351
Subject Antiquities, Orders
Consult in image mode
Collections de la Bibliothèque municipale de Rouen.
Thierry Ascensio-Parvy


     The title page of the 1619 edition is very enticing. It announces in fact that the Reigle by Jean Bullant (who is not named) has been "revue et corrigée" by Salomon de Brosse, the architect of the palais du Luxembourg. A certain Nicolas Piloust was apparently responsible for initiating this revision, as he presents himself as a friend of the bookseller Sittart. This Piloust is otherwise known for having written a certain number of books having no connection with architecture : La bienveillance royalle contre les envieux (Paris, 1620), Le chant d’allégresse sur le retour de la Royne, mère du Roy, en la faveur de la ville et bourgeois de Paris (Paris, 1620), Le triomphe de la joye sur l’heureux retour du Roy en sa ville de Paris (Paris, 1622) and a novel, Le chevalier enchanté (Paris, 1618). In the circumstances, requested by the bookseller, he apparently took the editing work upon himself, rewriting the text to make it smoother for contemporary ears, and requested Salomon de Brosse to set the illustrations in order. He wrote the dedication and the headword. An enthusiastic and anonymous acrostic sonnet, in the A4 folio, is dedicated to him, in a rich decorated frame in which architect's tools are inserted in a stucco décor.
In fact one can notice a few modifications in comparison with the 1568 edition. The book is henceforth paginated ; the dedication and the headword were brought up to date. But, in spite of Piloust’s declarations, the text remains the same as the 1568 text, with the exception of tiny details, with a different typography. Thus the examination of this edition proves to be disappointing in comparison with the hopes raised in the title. In fact, Salomon de Brosse’s participation is very limited ; there is no "augmentation". On the contrary, the detailed plates on the Corinthian order added by Bullant in 1568 to folios G and G2 were deleted, as well as the annotations relating to them. For this reason the book has two fewer leaves than the preceding edition. As for the "revision", it is limited to setting in order certain plates added in 1568, in particular the new ones representing the Doric order interpolated between plates illustrating the Ionic order (ff. C4-D in 1568 ; in 1619, pp. 17-19). In other respects, the editor rectified the caption in folio D3 of the 1568 edition describing the Temple of Virile Fortune as "Doric", and adds the explanation "faute (sic) de pierre tiburtine" (p. 29). Another "correction" : whereas in 1568 Bullant represented two types of leaves to ornament the Corinthian basket in folio F2 verso, an acanthus leaf and a laurel leaf, the new version stopped at the latter (p. 44), more frequent it is true in the real capitals, and it conforms curiously to the first 1564 edition in which Bullant presented it, though without naming it. On the other hand there appear a few typographical errors : the "porte ionique" on page 37 and the "volute composite" on page 54 were printed backwards, the Doric order on page 11 is called the "dioqure" order (sic) of the Theater of Marcellus, whereas it concerns a theoretical model, and the illustration in folio F which should represent an order "corinthe selon la doctrine de Vitruve" is really the plate representing the order of the Temple of the Dioscuri, which moreover reappears in its legitimate place on page 47.
So what was Salomon de Brosse’s real role in this matter? It wasn’t necessary to have recourse to a great architect to put this edition in order. No doubt he was satisfied to lend his name to ensure that a slightly old treatise gain contemporary legitimacy, and that this would confer upon him new prestige in the eyes of his clients. The 1619 edition was more a commercial affair than a "scientific" one in the modern sense of the term. Nonetheless it was somewhat successful ; it is the one that Savot mentions in 1624 in the "bibliographie" of his Architecture françoise des bastimens particuliers : "Bullan (sic) des cinq ordres de colonnes, reveue par le Sieur de Brosse Architecte de Roy" (p. 324). And it was also the one used by the honorable members of l’Académie d’Architecture when they began on March 5, 1672 to read the treatise : "Examinant les livres des ordres d’architecture de Jean Bullant et les conférant avec ce qu’il fit bâtir tant à Ecouen, à Chantilly qu’ailleurs, on a jugé que c’était un architecte de grand mérite, qui a suivi, par une méthode facile, la doctrine de Vitruve dans ses écrits et fait voir dans ses ouvrages la beauté de son génie. Ses écrits ont été en si grande estime que M. de la Brosse, architecte du Roi, a bien voulu se donner la peine de les commenter" (Procès verbaux de l’Académie d’Architecture, Paris, ed. H. Lemonnier, 1911, I, p. 12).

Yves Pauwels ( Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance , Tours) – 2006


Critical bibliography

F.-C. James, Jean Bullant. Recherches sur l’architecture française au XVIème siècle. Thesis, l’École nationale des Chartes, 1968 ; abstract in École nationale des Chartes, Positions de thèses, 1968, pp. 101-109.

Y. Pauwels, "La fortune de la Reigle de Jean Bullant", Journal de la Renaissance, 3, 2005, pp. 111-119.