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    Y. Pauwels, L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance (Rebecca Zorach)

    Francia-Recensio 2015/4 Frühe Neuzeit – Revolution – Empire (1500–1815)

    Yves Pauwels, L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance. »Une magnifique décadence«?, Paris (Classiques Garnier) 2013, 430 p., 134 fig. (Arts de la Renaissance européenne, 2), ISBN 978-2-8124-0862-5, EUR 49,00.

    rezensiert von/compte rendu rédigé par

    Rebecca Zorach, Chicago

    Yves Pauwels’ »L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance«takes as its starting point Victor Hugo’s famous declaration, in »Notre-Dame de Paris«,on the dramatic cultural changes about to be wrought by moveable type printing in his characters’ world of Europe at the end of the Middle Ages: »Ceci tuera cela For Hugo, the statement refers to broad cultural shifts from the Gothic to the Renaissance. The cathedral-as-book, this encyclopedic public architecture, redolent of faith, will inevitably decline in favor of the printed book as central cultural medium – and all that it brings. What it brings among other things, Hugo suggests, is a deadening of native creativity in architecture imposed by the importation of rule-bound classicism from Italy. But is this an accurate picture of what happened in (French) architecture following the introduction of printing – and specifically, the burgeoning genre of the illustrated architectural treatise?

    Defining his parameters clearly and sensibly through the evolving use of classical orders in France, Pauwels hones in the medium-specific implications of Hugo’s position, asking the question what, really, did printing do to – or better yet for – architecture in sixteenth-century France. He presents a rich and complex picture of French sixteenth-century architectural practices that drew inspiration from printed texts and images. In this view, French architects did not adhere slavishly to a set of rigid precepts. They used texts as tools to learn the classical vocabulary and they deployed it in ever more systematic ways, yet never (at least in the sixteenth century!) stopped inventing. Not only did they use the new forms creatively in architectural practice; they explored them in texts of their own. They also remained sensitive to local traditions as they explored the capacity for classical architecture itself to be characteristically French.

    Pauwels neatly dispels a certain fetishism of the artistic pilgrimage to Italy by showing that architects who did travel to Italy still, often, found their ideas in printed books. Even more significantly, he challenges the received idea that the key conduit for the importation of classical motifs into France was Italy at all. Pauwels presents a careful demonstration of the importance for French architecture of a Spanish book, Diego de Sagredo’s »Medidas del Romano«, translated into French and published in France in 1536 by Simon de Colines. Through close analysis of architectural form, Pauwels establishes the major and early impact of Spanish classicism in France, both through direct contact and through Sagredo’s treatise, which, if not always correct or complete in Vitruvian terms, was available and accessible to artisans. In the early examples in which Pauwels identifies Spanish influence, it is not necessarily possible to identify individual architects, but this influence extends to well-known figures like Jean Goujon and Jacques Androuet du Cerceau.

    As the book progresses chronologically, the kinds of arguments Pauwels can mobilize necessarily change. He has more information about architects’ own ideas and practices available to him beginning in the 1540s, once Italian treatises appear in France and architectural treatises begin to be published in French, with Philibert de l’Orme and Du Cerceau in particular, in the second half of the century. At that point, Pauwels has architect-authors to deal with, and this allows him to deliver an amplified sense of the architect’s own intentions. Still, throughout the period under discussion it can be hard to discern whether architectural books are being scoured for ideas by clients as well as by architects, and whether and how residents, visitors, and passers-by understand the new styles. To untangle the relationships among the architect’s creative invention, the demands of the client, and the landscape of broader shared assumptions, remains a challenging task.

    On a few points I would quibble – it is not clear why Palissy would necessarily have derived the dialogue form from Sagredo (he had many other options); could the Tribune des caryatides not have expressed an ideaof the Greek caryatid, thus suggesting Greekness without necessarily being based on anything Greek? These are, however, minor points. At times I might have hoped for more extended interpretive work; for example, Pauwels makes some interesting, but not fully developed suggestions relating to religious politics in discussing Joseph Boillot’s 1592 »Nouveaux Pourtraitz & figures de Termes«, and indeed the question of religious politics and its relationship to architectural treatises might have received more attention. A chapter on colored marble is too tantalizingly brief. But Pauwels need not provide a definitive answer for every question he broaches; he also opens up many possibilities for others to pursue.

    Perhaps some of Pauwels’ sensitivity to the impact of new media and of the usefulness of portable images derives from the fact that he is the co-director of Architectura (http://architectura.cesr.univ-tours.fr/traite/index.asp), an important web archive of architectural books either written in French or translated into French in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It’s worth noting what an invaluable resource for scholars of early modern art, architecture, and printing, this is, and not only in France. It is also relevant to the book, in that Pauwels frequently cites URLs for specific pages on the Web site as an alternative to reproducing images from the architectural books in the volume, and although this is an appealing way to invite reader/viewers to the site, to activate the reading process, I am left wishing that images from the books could have been presented in the volume as well. The figures appear separately from the text in an »Annexe«,one image per page, so the additional design work to add more images as comparisons would have been minimal. Image comparisons between printed books and architectural elements photographed in situ would have enabled the author’s argumentation to be made visually, and thus, I think, more persuasively. One might take my critique with a grain of salt, however, since I must admit to having followed the same strategy with images from the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae Digital Collection in »The Virtual Tourist in Renaissance Rome«. Pauwels’ text repays close study, even as it demands an active reader – which we might understand as a parallel situation to the role of the book in sixteenth-century French architecture, following his painstaking scholarship and persuasive insights.

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    PSJ Metadata
    Rebecca Zorach
    Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris
    L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance
    »Une magnifique décadence«?
    en
    CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0
    Spätes Mittelalter (1350-1500), Frühe Neuzeit (1500-1789)
    Frankreich und Monaco
    Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte, Bildungs-, Wissenschafts-, Schul- und Universitätsgeschichte
    15. Jh., 16. Jh.
    1420-1600
    Frankreich (4018145-5), Architektur (4002851-3), Architekturtheorie (4112587-3), Fachliteratur (4153493-1)
    PDF document pauwels_zorach.doc.pdf — PDF document, 317 KB
    Y. Pauwels, L’Architecture et le livre en France à la Renaissance (Rebecca Zorach)
    In: Francia-Recensio 2015/4 | Frühe Neuzeit – Revolution – Empire (1500-1815) | ISSN: 2425-3510
    URL: https://prae.perspectivia.net/publikationen/francia/francia-recensio/2015-4/fn/pauwels_zorach
    Veröffentlicht am: 21.12.2015 14:50
    Zugriff vom: 07.08.2020 14:20
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