“ONE OF THE KEY TEXTS IN THE HISTORY OF FRENCH ARCHITECTURE”: PERRAULT’S LES DIX LIVRES D’ARCHITECTURE DE VITRUVE, 1684, WITH 68 FINE LARGE FOLIO PLATES
PERRAULT, [Claude]. Les Dix Livres D'architecture de Vitruve. Corrigez et Traduits nouvellement en Francois, avec des Notes & des Figures. Paris: Jean Baptiste Coignard, 1684. Large folio (11-1/2 by 17 inches), contemporary full brown calf rebacked, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $6200.
Second and enlarged edition, with engraved title page and 68 fine folio plates, many double-page.
Written in the first century B.C., the manuscript of De Architectura
was lost for some time and rediscovered in the 15th century. "From the earliest Renaissance down to comparatively recent time the influence of this treatise has been remarkably great. Throughout the period of the classical revival Vitruvius was the chief authority studied by architects, and in every point his precepts were accepted as final" (Britannica). "This handbook on classical architecture is the only Roman work inspired by Greek architecture that has come down to us. It is therefore important as our prime source of many lost Greek writings on the subject and as a guide to archaeological research in Italy and Greece. By exemplifying the principles of classical architecture it became the fundamental architectural handbook for centuries… The classical tradition of building, with its regular proportion and symmetry and the three orders—Doric, Ionic and Corinthian—derives from this book… Alberti, Bramante, Ghiberti, Michelangelo, Vignola, Palladio and many others were directly inspired by Vitruvius" (PMM 26). "Doctor, scientist, classicist, and amateur architect, the omnicompetent Perrault combined two distinct books in this treatise, one of the key texts in the history of French architecture. His scholarly translation of Vitruvius earned widespread praise, while the notes carried a controversial attack on the foundations of classicism. Perrault boldly argued that most aspects of beauty, including architectural proportions, were defined not by universal and invariable standards, but by custom" (Avery 84). Jefferson owned a copy of this edition, and referred to it in a 1787 letter to Geroge Wythe as "the best edition of Vitruvius"; he later referred to it in an 1813 letter to Isaac McPherson on the subject of drawing water from a well (Sowersby 4173). Fowler 418.
Text and plates exceptionally clean, with only a few stray marks; contemporary calf boards with expected wear. An important edition in excellent condition.