Author(s) Blum, Hans
Title Les cincq Coulomnes/De l’Architecture...
Imprint Antwerp, H. Liefrinck, 1551
Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Réserve précieuse, cote II 38.910 C RP
Subject Orders


     As early as 1551, that is to say exactly one year after the first editions of Hans Blum's treatise came out in Latin and in German in Zurich, in Antwerp the bookseller Hans Liefrinck (c. 1515-1573) published a French translation entitled Les cincq coulomnes de l’architecture. Later, in 1572, also in Antwerp, he published a Dutch translation (Van de vijf colomnen van architecture). The five plates representing the arches of the Joyous Entry of Philip of Spain into Ghent that he published in 1549 also show proof of his interest in architecture. The arches were created by Frans Van de Velde from models by Serlio, Arcus triumphales quinque A.S.P.Q. Gand. Philippo Austr. Caroli V..., one copy of which is at the university library in Ghent.
     The French version is very close to the Zurich originals. Only the title page changes, in which the text is inserted in a cartouche of grotesques and strapwork in the spirit of those used by Pieter Coecke for his translations of Serlio. The dedication as such to Andreas Schmidt disappears, but its contents are faithfully reproduced in a "Salut" to the reader. The format respects that of the original versions, with the same plates and the same make-up. But the mention of the "certain géant nommé Tuscan" proves that the translator was following the text of the German version.
      This translation had a significant impact on French architects. If one can go by the new edition of 1650, the translation published in Lyons in 1562 by Jean Lemaistre was to repeat Liefrinck's text verbatim, except that the Frenchman kept only five out of the seven orders proposed by Blum. Jean Bullant, who in 1564 and 1568 offered his Reigle "au prouffit de tous ouvriers besongnans au compas & à l’esquierre" – taken from Blum's title –, and who especially took up the graphic system of presentation of proportions, obviously was aware of the Cincq coulomnes de l’architecture. Hugues Sambin also used Blum's treatise. But the most faithful French "copieur" was incontestably Jean Mauclerc, borrowing shamelessly from the 1551 text for the first edition of his Premier livre d’architecture (1599); he was also inspired by the plates, but in a modernized version, considerably embellished by Jacques Boyvin's engraving. On the other hand, it is more difficult to understand its impact on French practice insofar as Blum's models taken up by Liefrinck are only slightly different from Serlio's.

Yves Pauwels (Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2009

Critical bibliography

Y. Pauwels, "Les éditions françaises du traité de Hans Blum aux Pays-Bas (XVIe et XVIIe siècles)", In Monte Artium, Journal of the Royal Library of Belgium, 1, 2008, pp. 123-134.

Y. Pauwels, "Hans Blum et les Franšais, 1550-1650", Scholion. Mitteilungsblatt der Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, 6, 2010, pp. 77-88.