Author(s) Bullant, Jean
Title Reigle generalle d’architecture...
Imprint Rouen, D. Ferrand, 1647
Localisation ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, RAR 88 fol.
Subject Antiquities, Orders
Transcribed version of the text


     The last known edition of the Reigle by Jean Bullant appeared in 1647, at David II Ferrand’s printshop in Rouen. One of a dynasty of booksellers, this rather picturesque individual- he had to pay a few fines for having composed and printed some "lascives et déshonnêtes" pieces- was especially known in Normandy as the author of a Muse normande in "langage purin", that is, in local dialect.
Nothing is known of the circumstances which brought him to be interested in architecture. What is sure is that he had a very coherent policy concerning the reedition of treatises : "Lecteur bénévole, ayant découvert à Paris ce petit trésor caché depuis quatre-vingts années, & l’ayant en possession, je n’ai voulu te cacher ce talent, ainsi que ceux qui le possédaient entre leurs mains ; ains je lui ai voulu faire voir le jour, sachant qu’il y courait de l’intérêt public pour l’embellissement & structure des beaux bâtiments de France […]. Tu le recevras donc d’aussi bon cœur que je te le présente, espérant en bref remettre entre les mains les œuvres de Philibert de l’Orme (étant possesseur de toutes les figures qui sont en icelles, ainsi que du Vitruve)". In fact, Ferrand had very probably bought the material from Marnef and Cavellat, Bullant’s first publishers, perhaps from the heirs of Regnault II Chaudière, who had probably himself salvaged the treasures of the Cavellat dynasty : plates from the 1572 Vitruvius, some of Bullant’s from 1568 and 1619 and some De l’Orme plates from 1626.
In any case, the publisher from Rouen did not take into account the edition of the Reigle published by Sittart in 1619. The edition he proposes takes up the 1568 edition much more faithfully, especially in the introductory parts. The dedication to the maréchal de Montmorency, completely obsolete here, the headword and the word to the reader are almost exactly the same. The only thing missing is the original privilege, obviously useless, replaced by a word to the reader by Ferrand. The text, recomposed, is very faithful to the 1568 text, with a few variations in detail (for example, in folio [B 3v°], "Or d’où pourriez vous estimer..." becomes "D’où estimeriez-vous..."). The folios remain numbered ; the order of the plates does not follow the 1619 corrections and one can find the two types of folios meant for the Corinthian capital. The editor reuses original plates from the Premier tome by Philibert De l’Orme. The engraving representing "l’architecte prudent" (f. 51v°) was used for the title page and the window design inserted between folios 264 and 265 acts as a framework for the sonnet "Aux Architectes français" at the end of the book.
Is this the sign of an "exil provincial", as Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos said about Philibert De l’Orme’s edition, published in 1648 by the same Ferrand? It would seem that this edition of Bullant’s was quite successful when one considers the number of copies at the Bibliothèque nationale ; in fact there are more copies of this version of the Reigle than of the others.

Yves Pauwels (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2006


Critical bibliography

D. Ferrand, La Muse Normande, Rouen, Société rouennaise des bibliophiles, 1891-1894. 5 vols.

F.-C. James, Jean Bullant. Recherches sur l’architecture française au XVIème siècle, thesis at l’École Nationale de Chartes, 1968; abstract in École Nationale des Chartes, Positions de thèses, 1968, pp. 101-109.

Y. Pauwels, "La fortune de la Reigle de Jean Bullant", Journal de la Renaissance, 3, 2005, pp. 111-119.

J.-M. Pérouse de Montclos, "Les éditions des traités de Philibert De L’Orme au XVIIe siècle", J. Guillaume (ed.), Les Traités d’architecture à la Renaissance, Paris, Picard, 1988, pp. 355-365.