Author(s) Androuet du Cerceau, Jacques
Title Livre des edifices antiques romains...
Imprint [Paris, D. Duval,] 1584
Localisation Paris, Ensba, Les 1599

Antique buildings

Transcribed version of the text


     The last book published by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau is the book devoted to the buildings of antique Rome. It came out in Paris in 1584 at the presses of Denis Duval (Renouard 1964, n° 256). It was dedicated to Jacques de Savoie, Anne d’Este’s husband, who had taken the artist under his protection at the death of her mother Renée de France in 1575. The book contains a reduced version of the map of Rome published by Du Cerceau in 1578, from the celebrated plan by Pirro Ligorio in his third version dated 1561, and he most importantly reproduced one hundred and six monuments, presented in groups or separately, in copies or adaptations by Ligorio or more exceptionally from other sources like Palladio (the Temple of Peace). The folio book is composed of forty-eight leaves, unnumbered, in which the typographical format varies according to the copy, even if there were two printings (Geymüller 1887, p. 307).
Androuet du Cerceau did not settle for more or less faithful copies of the Italian antiquarian; he corrected the images and often adapted them. Most of the monuments represented are treated symmetrically, with mechanical reflections starting from a central or longitudinal axis (Cornell 1956). Enlarging the monuments gave him the possibility to propose ornamental decorations of his own. The very meticulous treatment of the images reveals that for the artist it was a matter of an important work, doubtless his artistic legacy on the Roman antiquities rendered as ideal models. If he was inspired by Ligorio, he created above all a personal book in the choice of the buildings that he re-examined, since the Italian’s representations were often very liberal. Thus the main Roman monuments (the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Baths of Diocletian, the Septizodium…) appear next to others whose names alone refer to a dreamlike antiquity (“Domus et Hortorum Galbaniorum”…), more poetic than real. He never traveled to Rome and used only rarely the more precise plans of Serlio or Palladio. Like Ligorio, who had just died in 1583, he transcended the antiquities to elevate them to original works of art.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2013

Critical bibliography

E. Cornell, “Notes sur Du Cerceau”, Röhsska Konstslöjd Museet årostryck, 1956, pp. 69-86.

P. Furhing, “Catalogue sommaire des estampes”, J. Guillaume & P. Furhing (ed.), Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, Paris, Picard, 2010, p. 321.

H. Günther, “Du Cerceau et l’antiquité”, J. Guillaume & P. Furhing (ed.), Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, Paris, Picard, 2010, pp. 75-90.

H. von Geymüller, Les Du Cerceau. Leur vie et leur œuvre d’après de nouvelles recherches, Paris/London, Rouam/Wood & Co, 1887, pp. 306-307.

F. Lemerle, “Jacques Androuet du Cerceau et les antiquités”, Journal de la Renaissance, 2, 2004, pp. 135-144.

F. Lemerle, La Renaissance et les antiquités de la Gaule, Turnhout, Brepols, 2005, pp. 74-76.

Y. Pauwels, L’architecture au temps de la Pléiade, Paris, Monfort, 2002, pp. 87-89.

P. Renouard, Imprimeurs et libraires parisiens du XVIe siècle, 1, Paris, Service des travaux historiques de la Ville de Paris, 1964, n° 256-257.

D. Thomson, “Du Cerceau and Hollywood”, L. Golden (ed.), Raising the Eyebrow. John Onians and World Art Studies. An Album Amicorum in his Honour, Oxford, Archaeopress, 2001, pp. 301-307.