Author(s) Vignola
Le Muet, Pierre
Regles des cinq ordres d’architecture de Vignolle reveuee (sic) augmentees et reduites de grand en petit...
Imprint Paris, M. Tavernier, 1631-1632
Localisation Paris, Ensba, Les 916
Subject Doors, Orders


     Thanks to its pocket-sized format, the "petit Vignole français" by Le Muet, published in 1632, played a noteworthy role in the extraordinary international destiny of Vignola's Regola (514 editions of the editio princeps in 1562 to the present day). Even if some find the proportions and profiles put forward by Palladio more beautiful, with which Le Muet himself sided in 1645 while translating his first book on the orders, Vignola's "règle générale" dominated as the easiest to follow, as François Blondel pointed out in 1673 as he annotated the architectural bibliography given by Louis Savot in his Architecture française des bâtiments particuliers (p. 346, note a). One can distinguish between two French editions, the first in Paris at Melchior Tavernier's shop in 1632, the second at an anonymous editor's in 1657; each edition was reprinted several times. In addition, the first served as models for the Dutch translations (Amsterdam, 1638), German ones (Amsterdam, 1651) and English ones (London, 1655). If the frontispiece engraved by Michel Lasne, whose signature was ML, bears the date 1631, the first edition came out in 1632, the date of the privilege, at the shop of Melchior Tavernier, who had already published the first edition of the Manière de bâtir pour toutes sortes de personnes by Pierre Le Muet in 1623. The text and the plates are paginated continuously on top of the page in the angle, from page 2 to page 101. Text appears on the even-numbered pages or they are left empty; plates numbered from I to L (the twenty-third plate is misnumbered XXIIV) appear on the odd-numbered pages. After the word to the reader and the dedication to M. de la Vrillière, at that time Superintendant of finances, signed by Le Muet, (p. 1), the volume gives the translation of Vignola's general rule of the five orders: the text on the left, plates on the right numbered I-XXXVI (pp. 2-73). The translation is borrowed literally, except for a few alterations (notably pp. 8, 34, 56, 58), from the polyglot edition first published in Amsterdam in 1617, which also served as a basis for the folio French edition published in Paris by Pierre Firens before 1638.
The first thirty-six plates, which the text comments upon, draw on the graphic material of Vignola's Règle, with the adjustments made necessary by the small format. Fourteen plates of portals come next, numbered XXXVII to L (pp. 74-101), constituting a Frenchified adaptation of the supplementary plates which came progressively, from 1562 to 1610, to be added to the original nucleus of the editio princeps of the Regola. The first plate (pp. 74-75; pl. XXXVII) is accompanied by a commentary which does not identify it, but, thanks to Henri Sauval (Histoires et recherches de la ville de Paris, 1724, II, p. 198), one can recognize the portal of Bégnine Bernard's Parisian residence, designed in 1614 by Salomon de Brosse who was inspired by the lower portal of the palace of Caprarola appearing in the Italian editions of the Regola: "Salomon de Brosse, l’architecte du portail de Saint-Gervais et du palais d’Orléans, l’a élevé dans la face de cette maison rue Coquillière et, de plus, n’y a rien ajouté du sien qu’un grand fronton rond, garni d’un cartouche dans le milieu, qui ne se voit point dans celui que Vignole a dessiné et mis en lumière, mais qui se voit dans celui du Vignole français in-8° de la traduction de Pierre le Muet". Concerning the four other plates in the first supplement to the Regola, Le Muet removed the plate illustrating the portal of San Lorenzo in Damaso and the chimney-piece of the Farnese Palace which appear in the Dutch edition of 1617, and retained the main entrance of the palace of Caprarola and the portal of the Chancellery: "Porte de l’edifice de Reverendissime et Illustrissime Cardinal Farnese a Caprarole" (pp. 76-77, pl. XXXVIII), and "Porte desseignee au service de l’illustrissime & Reverendissime Cardinal Farnese pour l’entree principale du Palais de la Chancelerie" (pp. 78-79, pl. XXXIX). Likewise referring to the seven new plates, "Nuova e ultima aggiunta", from the 1602 Roman edition, used again in the 1617 Dutch edition, Le Muet retained only two: the "Porte du Jardin du tres-illustre et tres-excellent Seigneur le Duc Sforce" (pp. 80-81, pl. XL) and the "Porte de la Vigne du Reverendissime Patriarche Grimani a la Strade Pie" (pp. 82-83, pl. XLI). On the other hand he introduced nine drawings of portals, with no caption, very likely by his hand (pp. 85-101; pl. XLII-L).
February 12, 1644, Pierre I Mariette (c. 1603-1657) bought the original copper plates from Melchior Tavernier. Mariette made a simple reprint, substituting his name and address, chez Pierre Mariette, rue St Jacques, à l’Espérance, but kept the dates 1631 and 1632 of the original edition. These plates next went on to Nicolas Langlois, who put out another reprint, chez Nicolas Langlois, rue Saint-Jacques, à la Victoire au coing de la rue de la Parcheminerie, in which the dedication to La Vrillière was replaced by a plate of the five orders.
In 1657 a second edition, which was reprinted twice more in 1658 and in 1684. At the same time, the "petit Vignole français" by Le Muet was, before the Cours d’architecture by d’Aviler, one of the most important vectors of the international destiny of Vignola's Regola, in being used as the basis for many octavo editions: Dutch, German and English.

Claude Mignot (Université de Paris-IV, Centre André Chastel) – 2004
Revised – 2008

Critical bibliography

F. Lemerle, "Les versions françaises de la Regola de Vignole au XVIIe siècle", In Monte Artium (Journal of the Royal Library of Belgium), 1, 2008, pp. 101-120.

F. Lemerle, "Vitruve, Vignole, Palladio et les autres: traductions, abrégés et augmentations au XVIIe siècle", Architecture et théorie. L'héritage de la Renaissance, Tours, Cesr, June 3-4, 2009/Paris, École d'architecture de Paris-Malaquais, June 5, 2009.

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

F. Lemerle & Y. Pauwels, Architectures de papier. La France et l’Europe (XVIe -XVII e siècles), Turnhout, Brepols, 2013, pp. 86-88.

C. Mignot, "Vignola e vignolismo nel Sei e Settecento", C. L. Frommel, M. Ricci & R. J. Tuttle (ed.), Vignola e I Farnese, Milan, Electa, 2003, pp. 354-374.

M. Walcher Casotti, "Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola: Regola delli cinque ordini d’architettura", E. Bassi (ed.), Pietro Cataneo, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola: trattati, Milan, il Polifilo, 1985, pp. 499-577.