Fréart de Chambray, Roland
Errard, Charles

Parallèle de l’architecture antique et de la moderne... Planches originales augmentées de dix autres...
Imprint Paris, P. Émery, M. Brunet & Daniel Horthemels’ widow, 1702
Localisation Paris, Ensba, 284 A2 in fol.
Subject Orders
Transcribed version of the text


     Unlike the second edition of the Parallèle published by François Jollain in 1689, the edition published in 1702 is very faithful to the original text. Thus the title page repeats the complete title with the two parts ; only the dedication by Fréart de Chambray to his brothers was deleted. The publishers reproduced the original plates “augmentées de dix autres representant en grand le Piédestal de la Colonne Trajane de Rome, & de plusieurs autres Tailles-Douces” attributed, as were the first ones, to Charles Errard (1606-1689) who did not find the time to reprint the book as he had planned, which they acquired from his estate. The frontispiece with the first word of the title and the medallions of Henri IV, Louis XIII and the bust of Louis XIV is also new, just as are the previously unpublished four full page plates (pp. 9, 36, 115, 117) and the very fine illustrations placed at the head of the chapters and at the end of some. A table of contents was added at the end of the book. It must be noted that the plate of the five orders concluding the first chapter (p. 9) was inspired by Scamozzi. The book, luxurious in order to be “useful” and “pleasant”- the original plates, outline engravings, are shaded- appears under the auspices of Jules Hardouin Mansart, Superintendant of the Royal Buildings whose creations “apprendront à la Postérité que son beau genie ne doit rien à celui des Anciens” (ibid.). The Superintendant asserts in the “Approbation” that he has always thought much of the Parallèle, especially because of its exact copies of antique structures. He certainly did value the quality of the plans of Trajan’s Column which enhance the new edition. As Director of the Académie de France in Rome, Errard had supervised the casting of bas-reliefs of the column starting in 1667. We know that during their trip to Italy in 1640, Chambray and his brother Chantelou had been given the responsibility of convincing Poussin to go back to France and decorate the Grande Galerie of the Louvre and to “ramasser tout ce que le temps et l’occasion de notre voyage [...] put fournir des plus excellents antiques, tant d’architecture que de sculpture” of which were “soixante-dix bas-reliefs de la colonne Trajane”.
Thus in the Parallèle at the dawn of the 18th century we can see, beyond a tribute to Chambray and Errard, unconditionl praise of Antiquity with the recognition of Trajan’s Column as the archetypal construction, inexhaustible treasure of motifs for painters and sculptors, but in it also the continuity of the artistic policy begun since François I with Primatice’s copy of the bas-reliefs. At the same time, the respect for Chambray’s thought, taken up again literally in the text and the illustrations, aroused the emerging interest in Greece before Grecomania became a real fashion. The innovative idea of the primacy of the Greek orders, which had been concealed during the preceding century, was taken up again by Abbot Laugier in his Essai sur l’architecture.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2011

Critical bibliography

R. Fréart de Chambray, Parallèle de l’architecture antique avec la moderne (Paris, 1650), Critical edition prepared by F. Lemerle, followed by l’Idée de la perfection de la peinture, edition prepared by M. Stanic, Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 2005.

F. Lemerle, "Fréart de Chambray : les enjeux du Parallèle", XVIIe siècle, 196, 1997, pp. 419-453.

F. Lemerle, "À l’origine du palladianisme européen : Pierre Le Muet et Roland Fréart de Chambray", Revue de l'art, 178, 2012-4, pp. 43-47.