Author(s) Le Muet, Pierre
Title Maniere de bastir pour touttes sortes de personnes...
Imprint Paris, M. Tavernier, 1623
Localisation Paris, Cnam, Fol. Ko 5
Subject Carpentry, Domestic architecture
Transcribed version of the text


     In 1623, upon returning from a military campaign in the South of France with the royal armies, Pierre Le Muet, architect and engineer to the king (1591-1669), published the Manière de bâtir pour toutes sortes de personnes, a collection of house plans on small urban lots, from the smallest constructible house to houses of medium size, what we would call small townhouses today. Le Muet took up the idea from Serlio's sixth book Delle habitationi de tutti li gradi degli huomini. He might have been acquainted with a manuscript of it, still in France, no doubt in the workshop of Salomon de Brosse (today in the collection at Columbia University, New York). But where Serlio presented two series of designs, for town and for the country, treating them alternatively according to the Italian style and then the French style, Le Muet focused on urban architecture, treated explicitly in the manner practiced "à Paris et ès environs" (p. 1).
After a "sommaire discours de ce qui doit estre observé en la construction de tout bastiment" (pp. 1-5), Le Muet proposes house plans for a series of eleven "places", that is to say of parcels, increasing in size, the text on the left commenting the plate on the right. After the first lot, which only allows the construction of a one-room house, with an exterior spiral staircase, and a small back courtyard (pp. 6-7), the lots increase mainly in depth, allowing the successive addition of a study on the ground floor and the second story (lot II, pp. 8-9), a kitchen on the ground floor and a wardrobe on the second story (lot III, pp. 10-11), a secondary building at the far end of the courtyard, with a stable on the ground floor and a bedchamber above (lot IV, pp. 16-17). The size of the third lot enabled Le Muet to propose two other arrangements, alternatives to the first part, which could naturally be adapted to the fourth lot: with an interior staircase at the far end of the corridor, to clear the courtyard (pp. 12-13), then with an interior staircase on the street side, and a small study, an extension on the courtyard (pp. 14-15). On the fifth lot (pp. 18-19), Le Muet proposes, one might say, a "maison en forme d'hôtel": if the small entrance doorway proves that we are still in the category of small houses, the plan is turned around, with a secondary building on the street and the main building between two courtyards, if not between courtyard and garden as in the townhouses (see pp. 25, 41 and 87). The sixth lot (pp. 20-23), and the eighth (pp. 28-39), are more square than rectangular: the main building is located on the street, but the first arrangement of the eighth lot with a porte cochère offers a first minor sketch of the type of small townhouse with its main building on the street, which had rather great success in the 17th century (hôtel Lauzun). The seventh lot (pp. 24-27) offers the classic type of small Parisian residence between courtyard and garden, with a single wing. This type is given in five different forms for the ninth lot, a little larger (pp. 40-79), and again in the next two lots, the tenth a square lot (pp. 78-85) and the eleventh, an arrangement with domestic service rooms in the basement, under the main building (pp. 86-93). The last two designs are detached houses on parcels of undetermined dimensions, lot XIII taking its inspiration directly from design XXI of the Livre d'architecture of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (1582). The last plates are devoted to framing: a design of a half-timbered house (plate 101) and five designs of attic framework.
In 1647, François Langlois, who had obtained a privilege in 1645 for a second edition "reveue et augmentée" of the Manière de bâtir, reproduced the contents and formatting of the first edition of 1623, adding to it a new second part which included "plusieurs figures de beaux bastimens et édifices de l'invention et conduite dudit Sieur Le Muet".

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

Critical bibliography

P. Le Muet, Manière de bastir pour toutes sortes de personnes..., with introduction and notes by Claude Mignot, Aix-en-Provence, Pandora, 1981.

C. Mignot, Pierre Le Muet, architecte (1591-1669), Diss. Paris-Sorbonne, 1991 (microfim edition, Lille III).

C. Mignot, "Bâtir pour toutes sortes de personnes : Serlio, Du Cerceau, Le Muet et leurs successeurs en France. Fortune d’une idée éditoriale", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire active, 2004, pp. 440-447, p. 474.