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SECt. XVI I.
h'RENCH A RohitecTURE.
357. The architecture of Europe from the middle of the sixteenth century was founded on that of Italy. Of its value, the French and the English seem to have a stronger perception than the rest of the nations. We shall therefore now consider the architecture of France: that of England from a much earlier date will be separately considered in the succeeding chapter. Philibert Delorme was among the first of the architects of France who promoted a taste for good architecture; and though in some respects he may have been surpassed by other artists of his time, in others, whether connected with theory or practice, he has left his rivals a great distance behind him. Although he might not have had the purity of detail of Jean Bullant, nor the richness of invention and execution of P. Lescot, he has acquired by his talent in construction a reputation which has survived his buildings. The Queen Catherine of Medicis having resolved upon the construction of a palace at Paris, which should far surpass all that had previously been done in France, resolved upon placing it on a spot then occupied by some tile kilns (Tuileries) in the faubourg St. Honoré, and committed the design and erection to Delorme. It is, however, contended by some that Jean Bullant was joined with him in the commission. If that was really the case, it is probable that the labours of the latter were confined to details of ornament and execution, rather than to the general design and disposition. What, if it was so, belonged to each is not now to be discovered; but the genius of Delorme has survived all the revolutions the celebrated building in question has undergone. Catherine seems not to have been satisfied with the works; for she appears to have begun another palace on the site of the Hotel Soissons, that of the present Halle au Bleds, and to have entrusted this to the care of Jean Bullant. That of the Tuileries was in the end continued by Henri IV.; enlarged by Louis XIII. on the same line, after the designs of Du Cerceau, with two main bodies and two composite pavilions; all which were in the time of Louis XIV. afterwards brought together by the designs of Leveau and Dorbay. In the centre pavilion all that now remains of Delorme's work is the lower order of Ionic columns. This morsel of Delorme exhibits a good Ionic profile in the order, and is one of his best works. Generally speaking, the profiles of this master, which Chambrai has admitted into his Parallèle, make one acknowledge the justice of that author's observation, that he had “un peu trop vu les plus belles choses de Rome, avec des yeux encore préoccupés du style Gothique. Le talent de cet architecte consistait principalement dans la conduite d'un b timent, et de vrai il (tait plus consommé en la connaissance et la coupe des pierres que dans la composition des ordres; aussi en a-t-il écrit plus utilement et bien plus au long.” Delorme was the author of two works on architecture: one, Un Traité complete de l'Art de Bátir, on architecture generally; the other, Nouvelles Inventions pour bien bátir et a petits fais. The last relates more especially to a practice in carpentry, which, on the Continent, has been put into execution with great success, its principle being still constantly applied. The method of carpentry invented by Delorme, and which still goes in France by his name, consists ir substituting for the ordinary system of framing and rafters, curved ribs, in two thicknesses, of any sort of timber, three or four feet long, and one foot wide, of an inch in thickness, and which are connected in section and tie according to the form of the curve, whether pointed, semicircular, or segmental. These arches, in order to be strong and solid, should be fixed at their feet on plates of timber framed together, lying very level on the external walls; and the planks which are to form the principal curve are to be placed accurately upright on their ends, in which situation they may be kept by braces morticed into them at convenient distances, and retained in their places by wedges, for it is essential to the strength of this species of carpentry that it should be kept in a vertical position. In this country the species of carpentry just mentioned has never been practised to the extent it deserves. Delorme died in 1570. With him was cotemporary Jean Bullant, whose name has been just mentioned, and who, whilst San Gallo was occupied on the Palazzo Farnese, was raising the Château d'Ecouen, in which the prelude to good taste is manifest, and in whose details are exhibited the work of an architect very far advanced above his time, and capable of raising the art to a much higher pitch of excellence than it enjoyed, had not the habits of the nation restrained him in his useful course. A considerable portion of the façade of the Tuileries towards the Carousel is suspected to have been the work of Bullant; but the ch:teau of Ecouen, built, or rather begun, about 1540, for the constable Montmorency, was almost the first step to the establishment of pure architecture in France, and its architect may fairly be named the Inigo Jones of the French 358. By the wars in Italy under Charles VIII., Louis XII., and Francis I., the French had become intimately acquainted with the architecture of Italy, and the taste of the monarch last named induced him to bring from that country some of their most celebrated artists; so that in France there was almost a colony of them. Among them, fortunately for the quicker working of good taste, was the celebrated Vignola, who resided in France many years; a circumstance which may, with some probability, account for the high esteem in which that great master's profiles have always been held, and indeed in which they are still held there, though, generally speaking, the French have invariably been more attached in their practice to the Venetian than to the Romah school. Serlio, another Italian architect of note, was employed in the country by Francis, and actually died at Fontainebleau. At the period whereof we are now treating there appears to have been a number of able artists; for to Delorme and Bullant must be added Lescot, who, with Jean Gougeon as his sculptor, was many years employed upon the building usually called the Vieur Louvre, to distinguish it from the subsequent additions which have quadrupled the original project of Lescot. To judge of the works of the French architects of this period, a relative, and not an abstract view, must be taken of them; relative, we mean, to the general cultivation of the arts when any individual artist appears. In this respect Lescot's works at the Louvre are entitled to the greatest praise; and from the examples he as well as Bullant and Gougeon afforded, it might have been expected that pure architecture would have proceeded without check until it reached a point as high as that to which it had been carried in Italy. Such was not, however, to be the case. Mary de Medicis, during her regency, having determined on building the Luxembourg palace, was anxious to have it designed in the style of the palaces of Florence, her native city. Jacques de Brosse, her architect, was therefore compelled to adopt the character required: his prototype seems to have been the Pitti palace, and his version of it is a failure. The gigantic palaces of Florence well enough bear out against the rustic and embossed work employed upon them; but when their scale is reduced, the employment of massive parts requires great caution. The palace, however, of the Luxembourg became a model for the fashion of the day, and produced an intermediate style, which lasted many years in France, and arrested the arrival at perfection whereof the above work of Bullant and others had opened a fair prospect. De Brosse was an able artist, and his design for the façade of St. Gervais of three orders is, under the circumstances, entitled to our praise. This architect acquired much honour by the aqueduct of Arcueil, the completion whereof, in 1624, it is supposed he did not long survive. 359. Under Louis XIV. the art remained for the most part in the intermediate state just noticed; and yet that monarch and his minister Colbert lost no opportunity of embellishing the kingdom with its productions. He employed Bernini to make designs for the palace of the Louvre; and for that purpose induced the artist to visit France, where he was received with the highest respect. He left a design for a façade of the building in question, which, though in a corrupt style, exhibits nevertheless marks of grandeur and magnificence which would have been worthy of the monarch. Bernini, disgusted, as he alleged, with the workmen of Paris, departed from the country without leaving any example of his architectural powers. That he did so France has no reason to lament, since it gave Perrault the opportunity of ornamenting the capital with one of the most splendid monuments of the art which Europe can boast. To Perrault is the credit due of having given an impulse to French architecture it has never lost, and of having changed the heavy style of his time into the light and agreeable forms of the Venetian school. The beauties of the façade of the Louvre (fig. 176.) are so many and great that its defects are forgotten. The proportions are so exquisite, that the eye cannot rest on the coupled columns and the arch of the principal gate rising into the story of the colonnade. The original profession of Perrault was that of medicine, which, however, he only exercised for the benefit of his friends and the poor; hence the design he made with others in competition for the above work having been successful, he was associated for its execution with Louis le Veau, the king's principal architect. From the variety of sciences in which Perrault excelled, It li not probable that the assistance of a practical architect was actually necessary; indeed the four volumes which he published under the title Essais de Physique, and the collection of machines for raising and removing great weights, which he also published, show that he was, without assistance, quite competent to the charge which was committed to him with others. He built the observatory at Paris, possessing an originality of character which Milizia says is very conformable to its purpose. But however suitable it may have been considered at the time of its erection, and it cannot be denied there is a fine masculine character about it, it is for its purpose in the present age altogether ill adapted for the objects of astronomy. Perrault died in 1688. Cotemporary with him was Le Mercier, the architect of the church de l'Oratoire, in the Rue St. Honoré. Le Mercier died, however, in 1660; eight and twenty years, therefore, before the decease of Perrault. Among the architects whose practice was exceedingly extended was Jules Hardouin Mansart, the architect of Versailles, and the especial favourite of Louis XIV. He was principally employed between the years 1675 and his death in 1708. His ability, as Milizia observes, was not equal to the size of his edifices; though it is hardly fair for that author to have made such an observation on the architect of the cupola of the Invalides at Paris. Of this church and dome De Quincy has most truly stated, that though nothing that can be called classic is to be noticed about it, yet it contains nothing in dissonance with the principles of the art. It is a whole in which richness and elegance are combined; in which lightness and solidity are well balanced; in which unity is not injured by variety; and whose general effect silences the critic, however he may be disposed to find fault. In Versailles, the taste which we have above noticed as introduced by De Brosse is prevalent; but the interior of the chapel displays to great advantage the great genius of Mansart, and shows that he was not incapable of the most refined elegance. 360, Jacques Ange Gabriel was the relation and worthy pupil of Mansart. The colonnades to the Garde Meuble in the Place Louis XV. (now the Place de la Concorde) exhibit a style which, with the exception only of Perrault's façade of the Louvre, not all the patronage of Louis XIV. was capable of eliciting. To Gabriel almost, if not perhaps as much as to Perrault, the nation is under a debt of gratitude for the confirmation of good taste in France. He has been accused of pirating the Louvre; but reflection and comparison will show that there is no real ground for such an accusation. The difference between the two works is extremely wide. The basement of Perrault is a wall pierced with windows; that of Gabriel is an arcade: in the upper stories the columns are not coupled, which is the case at the Louvre. From these circumstances alone the character of the two works is so different, that it is quite unnecessary to enter into other detail. Architecture in France at this period, the commencement of the eighteenth century, was in a palmy state, and has never before or since risen to higher excellence; though the French are still, from the superior method of cultivating the art there, and the great encouragement it receives, the first architects in Europe. The great extent of the Place Louis XV. (744 ft. long, and 522 broad) is injurious to the effect of the Garde Meuble, which, as the reader will recollect, is rather two palaces than one. Its basement is perhaps, speaking without reference to the vast area in front of it, too high, and the intercolumniations too wide, for the order (Corinthian) employed; but it is easier to find fault than to do equally well; and we cannot leave the subject without a declaration that we never pass away from its beauties without a wish to return and contemplate their extreme elegance. They are to us of that class to which Cicero's expression may be well applied: “pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur.” Gabriel died in 1742. Antoine, the architect of the Mint at Paris, was another of the choice spirits of the period: he continued the refined style whereof we are speaking; and though the age of Louis XV. was not destined to witness the erection of such stupendous edifices as that of Louis le Grand, it displayed a purer and far better taste. This architect was the first who employed in his country the Grecian Doric, which had then become known, though not perfectly, by the work of Le Roy. Antoine used it at L'Hospice de la Charité, and De Quincy cites it as a circumstance which called forth the approbation of people of taste, and observes that the attempt would have attracted more followers, if, instead of exciting the emulation of architects in the study of it and its judicious application to monuments, to which the character of the order is suitable, fashion had not applied it to the most vulgar and insignificant purposes. Antoine lived into the present century, having died in 1801, at the age of 68. 361. Louis XV., during a dangerous illness at Metz, is reported to have made a vow which led to the erection of the celebrated church of St. Geneviéve, or, as it has since been called, the Pantheon; the largest modern church in France, and second to none in simplicity, elegance, and variety. Another cause may, however, with as much probability, be assigned; the inadequacy of accommodation for the religious wants of the population, and especially of that appertaining to the patroness Saint of Paris. Many projects had been presented
for the purpose, but that of Soufflot received the preference. This talented artist, who was born in 1713, at Irancy near Auxerre, after passing some time in Italy, had been settled at Lyons, and there met with considerable and deserved employment. In that city the great hospital had deservedly brought him into notice, for his knowledge in providing against the miseries of mankind, not less than had his beautiful theatre for providing for its pleasures. The plan (fig. 177.) of the Pantheon (so it is now usually called) is a species of Greek cross. The interior is divided transversely into two equal parts on each side, and a central one much larger, by isolated columns, instead of the plans previously in use of arcades decorated with pilasters. It is however, strictly, in its internal as well as external character, to be classed as belonging to the Venetian school. Its west front and transverse section are given in fig. 178. The light effect, which is so striking in the interior, produced by the employment of columns instead of the old system of arcades, is extremely pleasing, though, as has often been truly urged, they have no office to perform. Objections, moreover, have been taken to the wide intercolumniations of the portico, and to some other parts, which here it is unnecessary to particularise. It is, notwithstanding all that has been written against it, most certainly entitled to take the fourth place of the modern great churches in Europe; which are, Santa Maria del Fiore at Florence, St. Peter's at Rome, St. Paul’s at London, and then the church in question. Its greatest fault is instability about the piers of the cupola, – the old fault, from which not one is altogether free, and one which gave Soufflot so much uneasiness that it is said to have hastened his death. This failure was afterwards rectified by his celebrated pupil Rondelet, who, with consummate skill, imparted perfect and lasting security to the edifice. 362. We ought perhaps before to have mentioned the name of Servandoni, as eminently influencing, in his day, the taste of Paris, which, as the world knows, is that of France. A I'lorentine by birth, and a scholar of the celebrated Pannini, he, in 1731, exhibited a model for the façade of St. Sulpice; and after a year's probation before the public, it was adopted. On an extended front of 196 ft. he succeeded in imparting to it, as a whole, an air of great majesty, and of giving to the church a porch of vast extent without injury to the general effect. Servandoni was very extensively employed: his style was that of the Venetian school; and his death occurred in 1766. 363. To write an history of the modern architecture of France, and at the same time to do its professors justice, would require a much larger volume than that under our pen: we profess to give no more than a bird's-eye view of it, so as to bring the reader generally acquainted with its progress; and it is not without much regret that we propose closing our account of it in the person of Jacques Gondouin, who died at Paris in 1818, at the age of eighty-one; an architect whose veneration for the works of Palladio was so unbounded, that for the study of them exclusively he performed a second journey into Italy: a strange infatuation in a man of great acquirements, if the opinions of some of our anonymous critics are of any value. When Gondouin was employed, the heavy style of Louis XIV. had passed away, and the suitable and elegant style of the Venetian school had been adopted. The pupils of Blondel, among whom he was eminent, were stimulated by the patronage of the whole capital; and even in the present day, so far capable are its inhabitants of appreciating the merits of an architect, regret as we may to record it, that it is from that circum stance alone likely to maintain its superiority over all others in Europe. The most celebrated work of Gondouin is the Ecole de Médecine, whose amphitheatre for lectures, capable of holding 1200 persons, is a model for all buildings of its class, without at all entering on the great merits of the other parts of the building. He was one of those upon whom the effects of the French Revolution fell with particular force, though, upon the re-establishment of order, he in some measure recovered his station in society. He was entrusted with the erection of the column in the Place Vendome, but merely as respected its preparation for the sculpture. 364. In Paris is to be found some of the most beautiful street architecture in Europe. That of Rome and Florence is certainly of a very high class, and exhibits some examples which will probably never be equalled. These, moreover, have associations attached to them which spread a charm over their existence of which it is not easy to divest one's self. and which, perhaps, contain some of the ingredients which enter into our high admiration of them. But, on a great and general scale, the most beautiful street architecture in Europe is to be found in Paris; and so great in this respect do we consider that city, that we are certain the education of an architect is far from complete if he be not intimately acquainted with the examples it affords. In that, as in most of the cities of Europe, the requirements of the shopkeeper interfere with the first principles of the art; but in this the violation of the rules of sound building, so as to connect them with his accommodation, are less felt by the critical observer than elsewhere. The spirit which seems to actuate the French nation is to produce works which may properly be called monumental; in this country, the government has never applied itself to a single work worthy of that epithet. The principal care of an English minister seems to be that of keeping his place as long as the nation will endure him. Commerce and politics are the only subjects which such a personage