Tag Archives: Renaissance architecture

Thomas Tresham

J. Alfred Gotch. A Complete Account, illustrated by measured drawings, of the buildings erected in Northamptonshire, by Sir Thomas Tresham, between the years 1575 and 1605. Together with many particulars concerning the Tresham family and their home at Rushton. Northampton: Taylor & son, 1883.

I first encountered Thomas Tresham (1543-1605) in the second half of the architectural survey course and sadly have not since crossed his path until today. Tresham’s Triangular Lodge is one of those delightfully enigmatic buildings that remains with you, so I was most excited to discover two other buildings associated with Thomas Tresham– Rothwell Market House and Lyveden New Building.

J. Alfred Gotch’s sought both to document the three structures and to study them as an architectural unit under the patronage of Thomas Tresham. He concludes that Triangular Lodge at Rushton Hall, Rothwell Market House, and Lyveden New Building should be attributed to the architect John Thorpe, who designed three houses in Northamptonshire during this period. He writes:

It is highly probable that the leading ideas, the curious emblems, the legends, and the insoluble enigmas were supplied by Tresham, being wrought into practicable form by Thorpe; all the buildings have clearly been worked out by an expert, and are free from the makeshifts and crude errors of the amateur. (pg 44)

While Gotch identifies the Triangular Lodge as a garden folly, he also argues that the symbolism contained within and the inscriptions upon the building are a reflection of Tresham’s religious beliefs. Tresham was a devout Catholic under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, and the folly is an expression of the Trinity (pg 30). The building is a study of three.  It is an equilateral triangle with three floors, while the various details are groupings of three or multiples of three. Over the doorway the inscription reads, TRES. TESTIMONIVM. DANT., which Gotch translates as There are three that bear record. (pg 23) Gotch leaves us with this final thought regarding the Triangular Lodge:

…the Triangular Lodge is now and always must have been of very little practical use….It must always have been a “Folly;” an elegant, quaint, and expensive freak of its author; and therein lies its chief significance to us- in the light it throws on the manners and modes of the thought of the age in which it was built. (30)

La Renaissance en France

The last volume in our special collection focus series on French architecture, Camille Martin’s La Renaissance en France: L’architecture et la Decoration, is a two-volume collection that documents renaissance architecture in France. Its 100 plates consist of large- and small-format black-and-white photographs of exterior and interior architecture and architectural details of building types including both the religious and residential. Each plate is examined in detail at the beginning of the first volume, providing information about its subject’s specific history and design, and, in some cases, additional visual references such as plans or façade or detail renderings. The high-quality images and complementary encyclopedic text make La Renaissance en France the perfect launchpad for monographic inquiries.

Library of Congress call number: NA 405 M3

Franzosische Architektur-und Stadtebau-Ausstellung

Perret, August, José Imbert, Le Corbusier, and André Lurçat. Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949. Greiser: Rastatt, 1948

In 1948 and 1949, the French Bureau de l’Expansion Artistique Commandement en Chef Francais en Allemagne sponsored a traveling exhibition of French architecture in Germany. Produced through the participation of “Technique et Architecture” editor-in-chief André Bouxin, the complementary Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949 documents the full scope of the exhibition which examined French architecture from the medieval period forward focusing specifically on contemporary design and construction practices. The catalog includes a number of photographs of buildings, construction details, models and plans as well as essay contributions from well known architects including Le Corbusier and August Perret who celebrate the architectural practice and discuss the responsibilities of the profession in the contemporary era.

 

Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 G476 P477

Fragments d’Architecture

d’Espouy, Hector. Fragments d’Architecture du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance d’Après les Relevés and Restaurations des Anciens Pensionnaires de l’Académie de France à Rome. 2 vols. Paris: C. Schmid, 1897-c. 1925.

Collection: Cret

The French-language Fragments d’Architecture du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance utilizes work produced by novitiate architects studying at the French Academy in Rome to generate an historically fractured vision of the Italian peninsula during the Byzantine, medieval and renaissance periods. Developed under the direction of Hector d’Espouy, winner of the very first Prix de Rome, this volume follows his 1905 publication, Fragments d’Architecture Antique, and includes 180 plates that encompass almost a thousand years of architectural history.

Because students at the Academy generated intricately detailed drawings and plans of Italian monuments as part of their course of study, their work functions to document not only the monuments themselves, but also approaches to contemporary design pedagogy. In perusing these works, one will notice a considerable degree of consistency from plate to plate suggesting a very rigid and systematic drafting instruction.

This consistency is present in the watercolors as well.

As an historical document, the Fragment defy traditional readability. Ecclesiastical and secular buildings are included and organized neither geographically nor chronologically. Typology, style, technique and architectural element are similarly disregarded as organizing factors such that we find tomb and arcade studies intermingled with those rendering façades, campaniles, muqarnas, and mosaics. Nevertheless, these tomes function historically, canonizing certain Italian monuments while providing insight into the curriculum established to train architects.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1111 E7 1925 V.1, V.2

The Renaissance under the Valois

Mathews, Charles Thompson. The Renaissance under the Valois: A Sketch in French Architectural History. New York: W.T. Comstock, 1893.


Mathews’ English-language The Renaissance under the Valois documents in 41, high-quality historic photographs of some of France’s most celebrated architecture. Short chapters complement series of images, each organized chronologically to support Mathews’ central thesis–namely, that the French Renaissance was an evolutionary style emerging out of a marriage between the Gothic picturesque and Italian Renaissance practices filtered through a specifically French perception of the architectural ideal. These chapters are well organized and include marginalia to guide reading and quick reference. Clearly a product of the post-Napoleonic imperial era, the book takes on a resoundingly nationalist tone collapsing zeitgeist with historiography to create a document that not only reproduces in elegant visual detail the relationship between designed space and temporality, but also that which arises between the academic undertaking and its specific moment of execution.

Library of Congress call number: NA 533 M4

Monuments Historique de France

Roussel, Joules. Monuments Historiques de France. Ensembles d’Architectura, Détails Décoratifs, Documents, d’après les Archives du Ministère de l’Instruction Publique et des Beaux-arts. 3 Vols. Paris: A. Guérinet, [n.d.].

Assembled by the French Ministère de l’Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts, Monuments Historiques de France is a three volume series containing over 200 19th- and 20th-century photographs that document French monumental architecture from the Roman Empire to the 18th century. A range of building types are represented including public works, cathedrals, palaces and other domestic architecture. These volumes are organized chronologically and provide high-quality photographs capturing exterior, interior, and detailed views of some of France’s most renowned architectural spaces. A product of the neoimperialist era, a small section of photographs also documents Algerian architecture, though these plates are strangle absent from the volumes available in the Architecture & Planning Library special collection.

Library of Congress call numbers: NA 1041 R63 V. 1, V.2, V3

Three Hundred Years of French Architecture

Blomfield, Reginald. Three Hundred Years of French Architecture, 1491-1794. London: A. Maclehose, 1936.

This is the second installment from the pen of Sir Reginald Blomfield to be included in our series on French Architecture. In Three Hundred Years of French Architecture, the English scholar and architect, whose own architectural work represents a rejection of what he considered “the paralysing conventions of the Victorian era,” explores the relationship between the evolution of style in French architecture and its historical backdrop. Blomfield addresses Three Hundred Years of French Architecture to the everyman, whose collective cultural curiosity he believes should be tempered by history. To that end, he parallels an indulgent listing of canonical works with often entertaining prose, generating a well-illustrated, linear narrative of the intellectual history of style through the rich period of Neoclassicism in France.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 B53

A History of French Architecture 1494 to 1661

Blomfield, Reginald. A History of French Architecture 1494 to 1661: From the Reign of Charles VIII till the Death of Mazarin. 2 vols. London: G. Bell, 1911.

In 1911, architect and scholar Sir Reginald Blomfield penned A History of French Architecture 1494 to 1661, an authoritative two-volume work on the history of French architecture. Part of the Architecture & Planning Library’s Paul Philippe Cret collection, A History of French Architecture constructs a linear history of French architecture encompassing the scope of what might be termed a long 16th century. In this English-language text, Blomfield endeavors to locate a continuous trajectory between the beginnings of Italian renaissance influence in French architecture and the inception of a neo-classical design expression during the era of Louis XIV. Blomfield’s is an essential reference for the renaissance historian, functioning at once as an erudite piece of scholarship and a foundational historiographical text.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1044 B6

 

 


Special Collections Focus: French Architecture


Visit the Architecture & Planning Library special collection located in Battle Hall

As part of our ongoing effort to expose the rich and diverse materials held in the Architecture & Planning Library special collections, we will be highlighting a number of collection items that explore various historical and historigraphical topics related to the study of French architecture during the summer and fall 2011 sessions. The volumes featured in this series were reviewed by architectural history and theory graduate student Kristen Decker-Ali as part of a volunteer project completed during the summer 2010. Decker-Ali, whose own work focuses on Philibert de l’Orme’s Château d’Anet for Diane de Poitiers, reviewed dozens of volumes documenting 33 items of specific interest. These items belong to 26 separate titles, explore the history of urban and provincial architecture in France from the medieval period through the early 19th century and include volumes published as early as 1830. Check out Battle Hall Highlights each week, as we take a look at these titles.

Including over 20,000 volumes, the Architecture & Planning Library special collections comprise almost 1/5th of the library’s holdings and function as an invaluable resource for scholars in the disciplines of architecture, art and architectural history, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, building technology and construction science. Special strengths include central and eastern European architecture, especially the Vienna Secession Movement, late nineteenth and early twentieth century British and French architecture books, as well as titles from the libraries of architects whose work is represented in the Alexander Architectural Archive. Of special note are the libraries of architect Paul Philippe Cret, architectural historian Colin Rowe, and architect and educator Charles W. Moore.