Documentary Sources in Architecture and Design

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in Architecture and Design

Germain Boffrand, Livre d'architecture (1745)—A work of architectural theory written after its author had become a key figure in the Royal Academy of France. While Boffrand had been one of the foremost designers of Rococo interiors, he eventually rejected the style and instead argued that nobility of form, common sense, and simplicity of design should be the key determinants in designing space. His defense of these concepts thus exercised a formative influence on the Neoclassical revival in France.

Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Brittanicus (1715)—A multi-volume collection of engraved illustrations of classically influenced architecture built in England since the sixteenth century. Campbell was the editor of this hugely successful publishing venture, and his influential introduction to the first volume attacked the overly ornate Baroque style and instead advocated greater simplicity in building based upon the early seventeenth-century Palladianism of Inigo Jones.

Paul de Fréart, Diary of the Cavaliere Bernini's Visit to France (1665)—A diary account written by Paul de Fréart relating the details of the Roman Baroque architect's five-month visit to Paris during 1665. Louis XIV appointed de Fréart as an aide to the artist while he lived in France. The work provides a view onto the world of high stakes architectural creation at the height of the Baroque.

Guarino Guarini, Archittetura civile (1737)—This collection of the great Italian architect's theoretical writings was collected and published years after his death. It shows the architect's concern with elaborate decorative vaulting techniques and sets out his theory that great buildings must, above all, appeal to the senses.

William Halfpenny, The Country Gentlemen's Pocket Companion (1752)—One of 22 practical architectural manuals written by this author in the mid-eighteenth century. It included plans for building houses and garden structures and showed its readers how to make architecture an expression of gentlemanly "good taste." Halfpenny also treated the subject of siting buildings in the landscape so that they took advantage of vistas and other natural features. His other works treated subjects as diverse as the building of structures in the Gothic style as well as the proper way to construct a Chinese pagoda. Taken as a group, Halfpenny's widely distributed "how-to" books inspired the fashion for "picturesque" gardens and structures that became a prevailing fashion in the English architecture of the later eighteenth century. His works were also particularly important in the American colonies where their practical, no-nonsense instructions fed the fashion for neoclassicism.

Louis XIV, The Way to Present the Gardens of Versailles (1689–1705)—A manuscript written by the great French king himself in six different editions over a period of sixteen years. Louis constantly revised the work to take account of his ongoing building in Versailles' park, although his guide continually advised how best to approach the various monuments, fountains, and sculptures that lay in the great gardens of the palace complex. Thus, Louis' guide provides an unparalleled introduction to the Sun King's own aims in laying out his grand gardens.

Andrea Palladio, Four Books on Architecture (1570)—This definitive statement of the Renaissance architect's theories and style continued to be avidly read throughout the Baroque period. It was also translated into other European languages and laid the foundation for the Neoclassical revival of the eighteenth century.

Claude Perrault, Ordonnance for the Five Kinds of Columns after the Ancients (1688)—This guide to the five architectural orders of Antiquity was particularly important in establishing the canons of French classicism in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The author, a physician, was a major figure in the establishment of the Royal Academy in France, and has long been credited as the driving force behind the creation of the classical façade for the East Wing of the Louvre.

Duc de Saint-Simon, Memoires (1691–1755)—These voluminous journals and reminiscences of daily life in Versailles and among the French nobility provided an unparalleled account of court life and a window on the greatest palace of the age. The duke also freely offered his opinions concerning the lavish display and bad taste he sensed was rampant in Louis XIV's court.