Androuet du Cerceau 1520-1586

The inventor of french style architecture ?

Cité de l’Architecture & du Patrimoine, Paris, 10. 02. – 09. 03. 2010.

Architecture fantastique. Chantilly, Musée Condé, RMN

The work left behind by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau being essentially graphic – collections of engravings, drawings and prints – the principle that was adopted was to create an «immersive» museography that plunges the visitor into the world of real or imaginary architecture, sculptures and poetic fantasies drawn by Androuet du Cerceau.

Multimedia, interactive and educational devices, with the most precious original documents on view, will enable the visitor to understand the evolution of his work, which celebrates «the art of building in the French style» culminating in his major work, the first anthology of architecture, published between 1576 and 1579 : « Les plus excellents bâtiments de France » (The Finest Buildings in France).

For the first time, five drawings, upon which this work is based and which have been lent by the British Museum, will be exhibited in France, as well as some copies dedicated to the last of the House of Valois, who were his sponsors.

However, the architecture and monumental decor cannot be properly understood without being put into context. This is why many mouldings made in the 19th century to give substance to the museum project that Viollet-le-Duc desired, and now belonging to the musée des Monuments français, will be exhibited. They will allow the public to discover, threedimensionally, the virtuosity and elegance of architectural and decorative items from the finest châteaux of the French Renaissance: Chambord, Écouen, Gaillon, Blois, etc.

In order to make this even clearer, several historical mock-ups will be exhibited, including those of the now disappeared château of Bury, a model of modernity at the beginning of the 16th century, Chambord and, even more exceptionally, that of the Tuileries of Catherine de Médicis.

Whereas discussions surrounding the reconstruction of the ruined palace continue to divide experts, the media and public opinion, the Cité de l’architecture & du patrimoine has decided to create a mock-up of the Tuileries of the Renaissance, from drawings and elevations produced by Androuet du Cerceau. This spectacular construction on a scale of 1:72 will also recreate the Bullant pavilion and the pavilions attributed to the son of Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, Jacques II, assumed to have been the architect of the Grande galerie du bord de l’eau (Waterside Gallery) at the Louvre. The connection between the two palaces will thus be better understood. This model, nearly four metres long, will highlight the detail of the ornamental motifs of what has long been, together with Lescot’s Cour Carrée (Square Courtyard) of the Louvre, a manifestation of French style architecture.

A 3-D film, projected onto a huge screen, will also show subsequent developments of the palace up to how it was in the times of Napoleon III.

The exhibition will be concluded with the symbolic evocation of the work of Du Cerceau’s descendants, using creations by his own children and grandchildren and all those who have, up until the 19th century, drawn their own sources of inspiration from his world.

Antique imaginaire. Montréal, Centre canadien d'architecture

Paris, Bibliothèque de l'INHA, collection Jacques Doucet

Palais des Tuileries, Aristéas, 2009