Author(s) Androuet du Cerceau, Jacques
Title Second livre d’architecture...
Imprint Paris, A. Wechel, 1561
Localisation Paris, Ensba, Les 1598
Subject Chimneys, Doors, Fountains, Attic windows, Wells


     Just as every great couturier designs a catalogue of accessories to accompany his collection, Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, in the Second livre, adorns the "prêt-à-bâtir" of the 1559 Livre d'architecture with a repertoire of motifs designed to "enrichir tant le dedans que le dehors d'un chacun édifice" of the first collection: fireplace facings, dormers, entrances and windows for the dwelling, fountains, wells and pavilions for the garden, and for the very far-sighted client, a choice of the most stylish mausoleums. To this end, du Cerceau brought together models and projects realized previously; we recognize several drawings for some of them which go back to the middle of the 1540s. If the book is clearly presented as a complement to the preceding one, it also allows one to decorate an already existing building, independently. Thus Jean-Jacques Gloton was able to see the models for the second floor at Lourmarin in the fireplaces numbered 19 and 21 in the Ensba copy (1979, 1, p. 103).
Certain elements like the entrances and the fireplace facings, classified according to the five orders, already appear here and there in Serlio's Quarto libro; but it was not yet a question of a catalogue of embellishments presented as such. The principle was inspired by a later publication by Serlio, the Extraordinario libro (Lyon, 1551), in which the author proposed fifty models of entrances, all different- just as Androuet du Cerceau's Livre d'architecture is similar to the seventh book of the man from Bologna, never published during its author's lifetime.
Thus the elocutio succeeds the inventio of the first book; the search for embellishments is added to the search for construction arguments, embellishments which add the indispensable venustas to the commoditas and to the firmitas of the residence models without which architecture would be nothing more than masonry. With this in mind, the approach of the Second livre is essentially esthetic in nature, in conformity with the canons in place circa 1550, essentially based on richness, abundance and licence. Constructing these adornments of the Livre d'architecture would seriously increase cost projections... Du Cerceau gives himself up to the "fureur architectique" and to the abundant "fantaisie" Serlio suggested in the Extraordinario libro, all the while staying close to the French practice, particularly for the great very ornate fireplace facings which remind one of those at Écouen or Fontainebleau, or in the case of number three here, a fireplace whose model David Thomson was able to identify as coming from the château de Madrid in the Bois de Boulogne. On the whole, the decorative elements make use of the repertoire of the orders very freely, and one can identify Doric, Ionic and Corinthian fireplaces, dormers and entrances as in Serlio's Quarto libro. Other elements superpose the orders, calling on freer motifs, decorations in stucco in the Fontainebleau style, and very varied anthropomorphic supports, which obviously anticipate the Œuvre de la diversité des termes by Hugues Sambin (Lyon, 1572).
The most original part is the collection of mausoleums. They are all intended for a very wealthy clientele in their ornamental richness and their volume. In their conception, the tomb-mausoleums with recumbent and praying figures even evoke the then-recent royal tombs of Louis XII and François I at Saint Denis. Here du Cerceau repeats the masterpieces characterising French funerary sculpture during the 16th century, and he even anticipates Germaine Pilon's great realizations: the recumbent figure of tomb number 62 is in exactly the same pose as the statue of Valentine Balbiani (Paris, Musée du Louvre).

Yves Pauwels (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2004

Critical bibliography

J. Androuet du Cerceau, Les trois livres d’architecture : Paris, 1559, 1561, 1582 (facsimile edition), Ridgewood N. J., Gregg Press Inc., 1965.

J. Androuet du Cerceau, Les plus excellents bastiments de France..., D. Thomson (ed.), Paris, Sand & Conti, 1988 (Documentary chronology and general bibliography, pp. 310-316).

F. Boudon, "Les livres d’architecture de Jacques Androuet du Cerceau", J. Guillaume (ed.), Les traités d’architecture de la Renaissance, Paris, Picard, 1988, pp. 367-396.

M. Chatenet, "Une nouvelle “cheminée de Castille” à Madrid en France", Revue de l’Art, 91, 1991, pp. 36-38.

H. von Geymüller, Les Du Cerceau. Leur vie et leur œuvre d’après les nouvelles recherches, Paris/London, Rouam/Wood & Co, 1887.

J.-J. Gloton, Renaissance et baroque à Aix et en Provence : recherches sur la culture architecturale dans le Midi de la France de la fin du XIe siècle au début du XVIIIe siècle, Rome, École Française de Rome, Palais Farnèse, 1979, I, p. 103.

D. Thomson, Renaissance Architecture. Critics Patrons Luxury, Manchester/New York, Manchester UP, 1993.

D. Thomson, "Les trois Livres d’architecture de Jacques Ier Androuet Du Cerceau, à Paris en 1559, 1561 et 1582", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon, Architecture et imprimerie Lyon, Mémoire Active, 2004, pp. 449-450.