Author(s) Mauclerc, Julien
Boyvin, René
Title Le premier livre d’architecture...
Imprint [La Rochelle, J. Haultin], 1599
Localisation Vicenza, CISA A. Palladio, MOR E XVI 1
Subject Orders
Transcribed version of the text


     Le premier livre d'architecture by Julien Mauclerc had hardly attracted the attention of historians of architecture before David Thompson pulled it out of oblivion in 1980 and pointed out its exceptional interest. Information is scarce on the Sieur du Ligneron-Mauclerc. According to the dedication ("Au Roy") in the 1600 edition, he served Henri de Navarre, probably as a military architect during the 1570s. It was perhaps then that his taste for architecture and machines had its beginnings. In 1596 he said he was fifty-three, which would make 1542 or 1543 the year of his birth. Very proud of his complete title which appears several times in his treatise (his fiefs were located in the present-day department of Vendée, between Challans and La Roche-sur-Yon), he was, like many of his fellow noblemen, a personality of multiple talents. In Apremont he opened an earthenware factory ("bouteillage de terre blanche") after obtaining a royal privilege in 1560. He was also a sufficiently well-informed collector to have been the first person to whom the Bouquet printanier was dedicated. It was published in 1600 by the apothecary and great collector from Poitiers, Paul Contant (later Sully took Mauclerc's place in the dedication).
Nevertheless David Thompson was not aware of a copy of Le premier livre d'architecture dated 1599, which belonged to the architect Jean-Charles Moreux (1889-1956), and which was bequeathed to the Centro internazionale di studi di architettura Andrea Palladio at Vicenza. This publication without name of author or place is quite obviously the work of Jérôme Haultin, a Protestant printer set up in La Rochelle. He took the responsibility for producing the 1600 edition. The same woodcuts were used for the text and the same plates. The 1599 edition differs essentially from that of 1600 in the title page and the absence of dedication ("Au Roy"). Moreover the study alone of the ornamented capital letters, the border decorations and the flowerets would suffice to attribute the work to Haultin. In 1600 the title page was different; it was recomposed to bear the address of the printer and his mark of the "Religion chrestienne". The copy of the CISA A. Palladio is the only one known to this day.
The 1599 issue probably falls within the province of a type of 16th century publishing called "édition à l'essai", according to the very expression used by contemporaries, intended for a close circle of friends. These works were printed in small numbers, paid for by their authors, at the instigation of the printers themselves, who could at the same time give work to their presses without risk and could "sonder les réactions d’un marché éventuel au travers de lecteurs avertis, véritables consultants avant l’heure" (Simonin 2004, p. 735). These limited editions also allowed the printers to perfect the second editions which would come out in many copies.
Jérôme Haultin's two editions are certainly surprising. If it was quite logical that Mauclerc, a Protestant nobleman, would turn to the active member of an eminent dynasty of printers located in the capital of the Protestants, it is more surprising that Jérôme Haultin would accept to publish a book on architecture. Indeed, the Haultin dynasty- Pierre I left Lyon to set up in La Rochelle in 1571- is basically know for publishing religious works (Bibles, etc...) and political work favorable to the Reform. The publication of a treatise on architecture seems incongruous even if the Haultins were undeniably competent in certain artistic domains like musical literature, since Pierre I had been a pioneer in that area. In addition the illustrations in their works are generally poor. Here the plates on the orders were done by René Boyvin, one of the great engravers of the Renaissance, and marked with his monogram RB. The frontispiece dated 1596 (and not 1576 as some have thought), less fine in technique, is attributed to an anonymous engraver (IB). Boyvin, about whose life we know little, accomplished a large series a few years before his death, situated between 1580 and 1598. Mauclerc must have come into contact with the artist, who had perhaps found refuge in La Rochelle, not far from his native Anjou; Boyvin (born in Angers towards 1525) had been imprisoned in 1569 after having joined the Huguenot movement. Protestant sympathies probably brought the three protagonists closer together.
The bad condition of the CISA copy (title page ripped and repaired, leaves mutilated [2-3], leaves recut, whimsical setting up of the plates, absence of sonnets by M. Prévost and of two engravings of composite capitals IV and VII, the later insertion of a plate representing the naval battle opposing the English and Dutch fleets against the French fleet off the southern Portuguese and African coasts on June 28, 1693...) gives only an imperfect idea of this trial edition. Nevertheless it is a perfect illustration of one stage of the editorial process that Michel Simonin brilliantly brought to light concerning the great French Renaissance authors. Paul Contant, who dedicated his Bouquet printanier to Mauclerc in 1600, held a copy of it. For in his poem he repeated almost word for word certain passages of the title page of the Poitiers nobleman's treatise (Marrache-Gouraud 2004, p. 233).
For the study of the treatise on architecture, we refer to the presentation of the 1600 edition.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d'études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2008

Critical bibliography

L. Châtenay, La vie intellectuelle en Aunis et Saintonge de 1540 à 1610, La Rochelle, Éditions du Quartier Latin, 1959.

L. Desgraves, L’imprimerie à La Rochelle, Les Haultin (1571-1623), Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 34-2, Geneva, Droz, 1960.

G. M. Fara & D. Tovo (ed.), I libri dell’architetto Jean-Charles Moreux al Centro internazionale di studi di architettura Andrea Pallaldio, Florence, Olschki, 2008, pp. 70-72.

J. Levron, René Boyvin, graveur angevin du XVIe siècle, Angers, Petit, 1941.

M. Marrache-Gouraud, "Cabinets et curieux du Poitou, aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles", P. Martin & D. Moncond'huy (ed.), Curiosité et cabinets de curiosités, Neuilly, Atlande, 2004, pp. 93-108.

M. Marrache-Gouraud & P. Martin, Le Jardin, et Cabinet poétique, Introduction and notes, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Collection Textes rares, 2004.

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

M. Simonin, "Poétiques des éditions ‘à l’essai’ au XVIe siècle", L’encre et la lumière, Quarante-sept articles (1976-2000), Travaux d’Humanisme et Renaissance, 391, Geneva, Droz, 2004, pp. 727-745.

D. Thomson, "Architecture et humanisme au XVIe siècle. Le Premier Livre d’Architecture de Julien Mauclerc", Bulletin monumental, 158, 1980, pp. 7-40.

D. Thomson, "Le Premier Livre d’Architecture de Mauclerc, à La Rochelle, chez Jérôme Haultin en 1600", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire active, 2004, p. 471.