Martin, Jean
Philandrier, Guillaume
Salomon, Bernard

Title Architecture, ou art de bien bastir...
Imprint Geneva, J. III de Tournes, 1618
Einsiedeln, Stiftung Bibliothek Werner Oechslin, A 04b. app. 962.1
Subject Architecture, Orders


     Falsifying or omitting the printing location was standard procedure with the Geneva printers; in April 1548 it had been formally forbidden in France to buy or sell books printed in Geneva. The orders were reinforced in 1551 by the Edict of Chateaubriant. In 1609, following a negotiation with Henri IV, the book trade between Geneva and France was more or less re-established, until the assassination of the king the following year. When Jean III de Tournes published a French Vitruvius in 1618, he declared that it had been published at Cologny (Colonia Allobrogum), a little village near Geneva and not the German city of Cologne, as several recent Vitruvian bibliographies have indicated! On some copies (as the Ensba's) the name was erased and the words "A Geneve" stamped under the date. This is also the case for some copies dated 1628.
The 1618 edition is original only in the assembly of diverse pieces. The French text is Jean Martin's translation, published for the first time in Paris in 1547. But the illustrations and the "Salut au lecteur" by Jean Goujon included as a postface in the first edition were deleted. On the other hand, in order to illustrate Martin's text, de Tournes used the plates from the Annotationes by Guillaume Philandrier, printed by Jean I de Tournes in Lyon in 1552 associated with an edition of the Vitruvian treatise. The reason for this replacement was no doubt de Tournes' access to the 1552 Lyons woodcuts which had already been reused for a new edition in Cologny in 1586. They would be used again for the Geneva edition of 1628. Jean III de Tournes added the translations of the "Vita Vitruvii"(ff. +4-4v°) and of the celebrated "Digressio" on the orders (pp. 72-93) by Philandrier published in the enlarged version of 1552. He also reproduced the portrait of the humanist with the inscription "Vertus de l’architecte tirées de Vitruve" (f. ++4), a small compilation of quotations from De architectura (I, 1, 7, and VI, pref.), coming after the table of contents.
The composite edition of 1618 intended to offer to the readers a general Vitruvian survey with the French translation of the "Digression" on the orders, an illustrated synthesis of modern theoreticians, notably Serlio, and of antique monuments, which constituted in fact a fundamental theoretical text and until then was accessible only in Latin to learned persons alone. However in the edition of L’architecture françoise des bastimens particuliers by Louis Savot which he annotated, François Blondel, director of the Academy of Architecture, regretted that in his opinion it had not been translated perfectly (p. 341, n. a.). H. Mitchell and M. Marmor (1996, pp. 152-157) have recently identified a copy of the second edition of Martin's French Vitruvius (Paris, 1572) which apparently was the basis in preparing the 1618 edition. This volume contains the manuscript of the French translation of Philandrier's "Digression", published in the Geneva edition. According to them, Jean III de Tournes could be the author of the handwritten notes in the margins in this volume, as well as in the French translation.

Mario Carpo (École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-La Villette) – 2005
Revised in 2012


Critical bibliography

A. T. (anonymous), "Sur des livres imprimés à Genève aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles sous cette rubrique: Coloniae Allobrogum, ou Cologny", Bulletin de la société d’histoire du Protestantisme français, 5, 1857, pp. 445-450.

M. Carpo, L’architettura dell’età della stampa. Oralità, scritturà, libro stampato e riproduzione meccanica dell’immagine nella storia delle teorie architettoniche, Milan, Jaca Book, 1998, pp. 102-103.

M. Carpo, Architecture in the Age of Printing, Cambridge, MA/London, The MIT Press, 2001, pp. 79-102.

P. Chaix, Recherches sur l’imprimerie à Genève de 1550 à 1564. Etude bibliographique, économique et littéraire, Geneva, Droz, 1954, pp. 84-86.

E. H. Gaullieur, Etudes sur la typographie genevoise du XVe au XIXe siècles, et sur les origines de l’imprimerie en Suisse, Geneva, Georg, 1855, pp. 188-189, 208.

F. Lemerle, Les Annotations de Guillaume Philandrier sur le De Architectura de Vitruve, Livres I à IV, Introduction, translation and commentary, Paris, Picard, 2000.

F. Lemerle, Guillaume Philandrier, Les Annotations sur l’Architecture de Vitruve, Livres V à VII, Introduction, translation and commentary, Paris, Garnier, 2011.

H. Mitchell & M. Marmor, "An Unrecorded Manuscript Translation of Philander’s Digressio Utilissima on the Classical Orders and the Geneva Vitruvius of 1618", Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 55, June 2, 1996, pp. 152-157.