Author(s) Bullant, Jean
Title Reigle generalle d’architecture...
Imprint Paris, J. Marnef & G. Cavellat, 1564
Localisation Paris, Ensba, Les 1537
Subject Antiquities, Orders


     The Reigle published by Jean Bullant for the first time in 1564 is a brief treatise, devoted solely to architectural orders, as was the Regola of Vignola. The latter had just appeared in Rome, in 1562. As in the Italian treatise, images predominate ; as this treatise appears in its first edition, the text of the Reigle was almost entirely borrowed from Jean Martin’s two translations, from Vitruvius (1547), which provided the introduction, and Alberti’s (1553) which constitutes the essential part of the text (the passages written by the author are in italics in the transcription of the text). These borrowings are clearly attributed in the word to the reader.
Thus the originality of the treatise rests principally in the illustrations, presented very methodically, following the henceforth classic sequence of the five orders, theoretical examples alternating with antique examples. This discourse in images remains totally independent from the text, with no connection between them, neither in the forms nor in the demonstrative logic. For we know that Alberti proceeded in an analytic way, successively describing the different parts of the order : column, base, capital and entablature ; on the other hand, Bullant, faithful student of Serlio, followed his procedure by studying the orders one after the other in a more synthetic way.
Thus Serlio imposed the method but also the morphology. The theoretical models Bullant proposed are almost the same as those in the Quarto libro. But Bullant proceeded with new rigour. The selection he made is incorporated in a logic appropriate for the very conception of his book, conceived as a "règle" and arranged as such. A theoretical Tuscan example - the exordium - introduces a development in three points : Doric, Ionic and Corinthian, with two abstract examples for each order, two archeological examples and one portal. A composite model and the plans of the order of the arch of Titus sum up the report. In any case Serlio’s models are modernised. Bullant takes up the principle of the volute with twelve centers of Barbaro’s Vitruvius (Venice, 1556), and cites it respectfully. An unshakeable logic systematically apportions the variations of detail between the two models (for example, for the Ionic, the Attic base or Ionic base, the Serlian volute or the volute with twelve centers, the dentil cornice or modillion cornice).
Bullant also innovated in using a purely geometric system of representation, inspired by Hans Blum’s treatise Quinque columnarum exacta descriptio atque delineato cum symmetrica earum distributione (Zurich, 1550) with which he must have been acquainted through its 1551 translation in French in Antwerp entitled Les cinq coulomnes de l’architecture by Hans Liefrinck. The link between the two works is indicated in the title page : the Reigle is offered there "au prouffit de tous ouvriers besongnans au compas & à l’esquierre", which mentions precisely the title page of Blum’s French edition "Au service et prouffit des painctres, massons, tailleurs de pierre, orfevres, tailleurs d’images, menuisiers, charpentiers, & d’aultres ouvries besongnans au compas & a l’equierre". Moreover, Bullant had a very particular way of treating the column flutings, systematically placing an edge in the axis of the capital. This placing, very rare, can be found in all of Blum’s plates, which no doubt set an example for Bullant.
This system, based on circles, half-circles or graduated rulers, allows one to understand the proportions and the relations of the parts to each other without consulting the text, which was still necessary when consulting Serlio’s treatise. As the author of a treatise on geometry of undoubted force, a disciple of Oronce Fine, Bullant could not fail to appreciate the strength of the graphic demonstration that the German put into practice.
As for the antique examples, Bullant could have discovered them during a trip to Rome which can be deduced from the text of the dedication to the maréchal de Montmorency. But his sources could also have come from books. In fact he confined himself to the great classics found in most of the collections of contemporary drawings or in Serlio’s Terzo libro : the Doric order of the theatre of Marcellus, the Ionic columns of this same theatre and of the temple of Portumnus, known during the Renaissance as temple "of Virile Fortune", the Corinthian columns of the Pantheon and of the temple of the Dioscuri, the composite order of the arch of Titus. A single rarity : a supposedly antique Doric example, about which Bullant gave details in the 1598 edition, writing that it came "d’un arc triomphal, qui se voit à present à vingt-sept milles de Rome". But no other treatise reproduced these rather original profiles, and its authenticity seems doubtful insofar as the frieze is literally a copy of a plate from Barbaro.
The Ensba copy for consultation is exceptional, for it was increased by copper plates dated 1564 and 1566, in fact probably planned by Bullant to accompany the second considerably expanded edition of the Reigle published in 1568. Curiously, none of the copies of this last edition which we have been able to consult had kept these engravings. They appear only in the form of separate leaves and, in the case of the large engraving representing the five orders, in the present copy alone.

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


Critical bibliography

F.-C. James, Jean Bullant. Recherches sur l'architecture française au XVIème siècle, Diss. Ecole nationale des Chartes, 1968 ; abstract in Ecole nationale des Chartes, Positions de thèses, 1968, pp. 101-109.

V. Hoffmann, "Artisti francesi a Roma : Philibert Delorme et Jean Bullant", Colloqui Sodalizio, 4, 1973-1974, pp. 8-18.

A. Linzeler & J. Adhémar, Inventaire du fonds français. Graveurs du seizième siècle, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, 1932, 1, pp. 208-209.

Y. Pauwels, "Les antiques romains dans les traités de Philibert De L’Orme et Jean Bullant", Mélanges de l’Ecole française de Rome-Italie et Méditerranée, 106, 1994-2, pp. 531-547.

Y. Pauwels, "Jean Bullant et le langage des ordres : les audaces d’un timide", Gazette des Beaux Arts, 129, feb. 1997, pp. 85-100.

Y. Pauwels, "Leon Battista Alberti et les théoriciens français du XVIe siècle : le traité de Jean Bullant", Albertiana, 2, 1999, pp. 101-114.

Y. Pauwels, L’architecture au temps de le Pléiade, Paris, Montfort, 2002.

Y. Pauwels, "Serlio et le vitruvianisme français de la Renaissance : Goujon, Bullant, De l’Orme", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire Active, 2004, pp. 410-417.

Y. Pauwels, "La Reigle generalle d’Architecture de Jean Bullant à Paris en 1564", S. Deswarte-Rosa (ed.), Sebastiano Serlio à Lyon. Architecture et imprimerie, Lyon, Mémoire Active, 2004, pp. 438-439.

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

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