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Dessins inédits de Viollet-le-Duc [Complete three volume set w/ 327 plates] publiés sous le patronage de l'Administration des beaux-arts par les soins de A. de Baudot, J. Roussel
Paris: Armand Guérinet. Very Good. 1894. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover. 138; 130; 59 plates pages; Complete set of the three series -- undated, but circa 1894-1902 -- OCLC: 6595933. These three large portfolios contain reproductions of drawings by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814 – 1879), a major French architect and theorist. Born in Paris, he embraced rebellion as a youth, and is said to have built a barricade in the Revolution of 1830. And, although he was drawn to architecture early, he refused to enter the École des Beaux-Arts, thinking it stuffy and his attendence would entail years of uninspiring rote work and copying. So he apprenticed in the architectural offices of Jacques-Marie Huvé and Achille-François-René Leclère. After studies in Italy, Viollet-le-Duc was commissioned to undertake the first of a series of restorations of medieval buildings, when Prosper Mérimée entrusted the young architect with the commission to restore the Romanesque abbey at Vézelay. This led to a series of important similar commissions to restore the glorious architectural past of France, including Mont Saint-Michel, Carcassonne, Roquetaillade, and, of course, the work that would become one of the signatures of his career and his time -- Notre Dame de Paris, for which Viollet-le-Duc became famous all over Europe. His understanding of the scope and nature of "restoration" is not entirely consistent with modern thinking. On one hand, Viollet-le-Duc had a thorough knowledge of period detail, as many of these drawings demonstrate. He knew what the Gothic and Romanesque builders knew and understood the materials available to them and their properties profoundly. But his position was represented by a key passage in his influential 10 volume 'Dictionnaire Raisonné de L'Architecture Française du XIe au XVIe siècle' -- "Restaurer un édifice, ce n'est pas l'entretenir, le reparer ou le refaire, c'est le rétablir dans un état complet qui ne peut avoir jamais existé à un moment donné". [Restoration, goes beyond maintenance, repair and rebuilding, but may bring a building to a finished state, which may in fact never have actually existed at any given time]. In the case of Notre Dame, the application of Viollet-le-Duc's principles of restoration led to something which went well beyond fixing up and cleaning; his "updated" led to the addition of the great cathedral's distinctive third tower, and added many of the fabulous grotesques which enhance the facade. These grotesques grew out of the vast number of notes and drawings, which Viollet-le-Duc made throughout his life -- not only for the buildings he was working on, but also on Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance buildings that were soon to be demolished. The drawings were a source for his great 'Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture française ...' and for other books and his high-profile restoration work. But they are also a fine resource in themselves and a window into the developed eye and culture of an epochal figure in architecture. Sir John Summerson wrote in 1948 that "there have been two supremely eminent theorists in the history of European architecture - Leon Battista Alberti and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc." These three portfolios were published by Armand Guérinet, a leading publisher of architectural books in Paris. They are undated, but most instutions assign a range of dates from about 1896 for the first, to 1902 for the final, third series. I: The first series has a note at head of title: "Archives de la Commission des monuments historiques, Musee de sculpture comparee, Bibliotheque." There is an internal title page, four leaves of notes and a list of plates, and two series of plates; A1-A99 [plates A1-A45 depict details of Notre Dame] ; and 100-138. The final twenty plates in the second group are photographs mostly by Aron, of various buildings restored by Viollet-le-Duc; most depict Notre Dame de Paris. II: Is denoted on the title page: "Ensembles." Title page, list of plates and 130 plates. Many of these are larger than the sheets full of smaller detail drawings in the first volume, and quite a few are photographs by Aron, beautifully reproduced in single sheet-fed heliogravure. Several plates are double numbers, on double sized sheets (as is the case with the first portfolio). III: has caption subtitle "Nouvelle série" on p. [3]. Title page, list of plates and 59 sheets of plates. Plates 1-48 contain reproductions of the original drawings which served to illustrate the 'Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l'ancienne France by Nodier, Taylor and Cailleux'. The remainder of the plates are drawings of detail, to complement the collection published in the first series: "Détails d'exécution." Condition: The portfolios are intact, integral and original, with cloth spines and printed paper covered boards, and three fabric ties securing each portfolio. The plates and text sheets are loosely laid in the portfolios as issued. The boards of the portfolios display some modest toning and a trace of soiling, one tie (only) is missing from the first portfolio, at the bottom. There is toning to the title pages and the versos of the final plates, a transfer from the glues used in assembling the portfolios -- (particularly true of the first series). Contents are collated and all the plates are present -- [actually, there is one extra plate in the first series, a second plate designated "A39."] A few plates display some very light foxing, mostly in the margins, and a very few have minor scrappiness in the margins or a turned-down corner or two, as is almost inevitable in hundred-year-old collections issued as loose plates in portfolio, but there are no tears, damage, or marks of any sort. A complete set of the three series -- represented in a number of institutional holdings -- [see OCLC Number: 10751973], but are now scarce in commerce. The many fine architectural photographs by Aron, reproduced in the handsome heliogravure which is now very nearly a lost art, help put the Viollet-le-Duc drawings in context, and form a contemporary record of the restorations of Notre Dame de Paris, Mont Saint-Michel, Carcassonne, Roquetaillade, and the Château de Pierrefonds, (a final commission "reinterpreted" by Viollet-le-Duc for Napoleon III, a work which was interrupted by the departure of the Emperor in 1870). These restorations are likely to be debated and studied for the next thousand years. (A heavy and awkward three volume set which will require extra postage for alll destinations, but is worth the trouble). .
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Last Found On: 2017-07-22           Check availability:      Biblio    

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