Title Les cinq ordres de colomnes...
Imprint Paris, J. Boisseau, 1646
Localisation Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, FOL V SUP 290 RES
Subject Orders
Transcribed version of the text


     One cannot understand the interest in Jean Boisseau’s book (which doesn’t appear in the specialized bibliographies) (see for example RIBA N° 2917, pp. 1750-1752), without recalling the editorial fortunes of Vincenzo Scamozzi’s Idea dell’architettura universale in northern Europe. In fact in 1616, one year after it came out in Venice, the book had already been presented at the Frankfurt fair and copies had been circulated in England and in the Netherlands; when the author died in August of the same year, the printer-bookseller Justus Sadeler had bought back the unsold copies in Antwerp. Therefore it was the Italian version which directly inspired Jacob van Campen, Maurice of Nassau’s architect, and his disciples Pieter Post, Philips Vingboons and Arent van’s-Gravesande in The Hague and Amsterdam. In this favorable context Cornelis Danckerts, a specialist in books on architecture, had published the Dutch translation of book VI of the treatise in 1640, a book devoted to the orders which he intended for patrons who had no access to the original edition. His son Dancker carried on with his father’s project, combining book III on residences with book VI (1658). But these beautiful folio editions were hardly appropriate for entrepreneurs and artisans who needed a convenient and practical manual with models of Scamozzi’s orders. Thus the master stonemason from Antwerp, Simon Bosboom (1614-1662), had the idea of publishing a small folio in 1657, a summary of book VI intended for his colleagues, Cort onderwys vande vyf colommen, reduced to the columns and their details, with a new and easily understood system of proportions. The module was divided in sixty parts, allowing one to calculate the proportions of all the parts of the order. Scamozzi’s editorial success in northern Europe, carefully examined (Ottenheym 1999, 2002, 2006-2007) supplanted his influence in France: it was not in Amsterdam in 1658 but in Paris in 1646 that the first adaptation of books III and VI was published. In its very short form Jean Boisseau’s book is the prototype of the Dutch summary of book VI of 1657.
This folio collection is made up of thirty plates (with the title page) engraved in 1646 by the “master illuminator” and map publisher, Jean Boisseau, entitled Les cinq ordres de colomnes et plusieurs pieces d’architecture tirées du tres excellent architecte Vincent Scamozze. Et autres. It contains only one page of text, the foreword on the module. Only fourteen plates are reproduced from book VI, the one on the five orders of columns, those on the five orders with arches (a double plate), and three plates for each one of them (pedestal and base, capital and entablature, a façade with four columns). Note that the composite was replaced in its traditional place, after the Corinthian and not between the Ionic and Corinthian as Scamozzi stipulated.
After the orders come eight plans and elevations of palaces and villas taken from chapters 3 to 17 of book III. They have to do with the Greek and Roman house according to Vitruvius (plans) and projects or constructed buildings by Scamozzi: the palace project for Cardinal Federico Cornaro on the Grand Canal in Venice (plan, elevation and section), Rocca Pisana in Lonigo (Vicenza) (plan and elevation), the villa Molin in Mandria (Padua) (plan and elevation), the project for a suburban villa on the Brenta (plan and elevation). And as indicated in the title, (“And others”) the opuscule presents other models, in this case French because they are composite windows in the Louvre (a triangular pediment and a broken pediment), as well as two details in the attic (the central block and central pavilion). The online copy at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève does not contain the last plate with the attic of the central block, which is present in the reprint done in London in the 1660s with a bilingual title page (XXX. Pieces d’architecture... / XXX. Pieces of architecture).
Without doubt it is this first book which circulated the Scamozzian forms in France, before the celebrated Parallèle (1650) by Fréart de Chambray. The book explains that Scamozzi had partisans rather early in France (Gady 2002, p. 303-305). Architects willingly adopted his Ionic order with its enriched Attic base, its entablature characterized by an architrave with three fasciae, a flat frieze, a cornice with quadrangular modillions and its characteristic four-sided capital. In 1647 in the enlarged version of his Maniere de bien bastir, Pierre Le Muet gives an Ionic order practically identical to Scamozzi’s in his project for the portal of the hôtel d’Avaux: a pulvinated frieze alone replaces the flat frieze, and the enriched base does not have the baguette above the upper torus. A few years later this version was used again in Anne d’Autriche’s study in the Val-de-Grâce abbey (1655), all of which would prompt one to attribute its creation to Le Muet rather than to the master mason Gabriel Le Duc. At the same time from 1646-1648 Antoine Le Pautre used an Ionic order for the portico of the chapel at Port-Royal (destroyed) with an entablature in the Scamozzi style, personalizing it with modillions in an S shape. Marot’s engraving, the only evidence of the destroyed building, does not allow us to judge the details of the moldings on the base, quite obviously Attic in style. Le Pautre used the model for the pilasters in the interior of the church. At the hôtel de Beauvais (1656-1659) he copies Scamozzi’s entablature verbatim, as well as the capital, but he prefers the Ionic base to Scamozzi’s enriched base.
Book VI on the orders was translated in 1685.

Frédérique Lemerle (Centre national de la recherche scientifique,
Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2014


Critical bibliography

A. Gady, “L’ordre ionique de Scamozzi en France au XVIIe siècle: de la diffusion à l’appropriation”, S. Frommel & F. Bardati (ed.), La réception des modèles cinquecenteschi dans la théorie et les arts français du XVIIe siècle, Geneva, Droz, 2002, pp. 297-314.

A. Hopkins & Arnold Witte, “From deluxe architectural book to builder’s manual: the Dutch editions of Scamozzi’s ‘L’Idea della Architettura Universale’ ”, Quærendo, 26-4, 1996, pp. 274-302.

F. Lemerle & Y. Pauwels, Architectures de papier. La France et l’Europe, suivi d’une bibliographie des livres d’architecture (XVIe-XVIIe siècles), Turnhout, Brepols, 2013, pp. 110-112.

F. Lemerle, “Le XVIIe siècle français et l’Idea dell’architettura universale (1615) de Vincenzo Scamozzi”, Revue de l’art, 188, 2015-2, pp. 49-55.

K. Ottenheym, “Le traduzioni olandesi dei trattati di Palladio e Scamozzi”, G. Beltramini (ed.), Palladio nel Nord Europa. Libri, viagiatori, architetti, Milan, Skira, 1999, pp. 156-157.

K. Ottenheym, “L’idea della Architettura universale de Vincenzo Scamozzi et l’architecture du XVIIe siècle aux Pays-Bas”, M-C. Heck, F. Lemerle & Y. Pauwels (ed.), Théorie des arts et création artistique dans l’Europe du Nord du XVIe au début du XVIIe siècle, Lille, PUL, collection UL3 Travaux et Recherches, 2002, pp. 121-139.

K. Ottenheym, “A Bird’s Eye View of the Dissemination of Scamozzi’s Treatise in Northern Europe”, Annali di architettura, 18-19, 2006-2007, pp. 187-198.