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Philibert de L' Orme

(c. 1514—1570)


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also given as

(c. 1514–70).

French architect who influenced later generations largely through his books. In Rome (1533–5), he became acquainted with Classicism, before returning to Paris where he designed several buildings (all very un-Italian), most of which have been mutilated or destroyed. He was responsible (with others) for the tomb of François I er (1515–47) in St-Denis (1547–58), inspired by the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, Rome, but with an Ionic Order substituted. The Château of Anet, Dreux (1547–55), was probably his finest building, of which the frontispiece of the central corps-de-logis (now in the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris) survives, as do the entrance-gate and chapel. The frontispiece has an assemblage of Orders, its severity and restraint making the contemporary work of Lescot at the Louvre seem over-elaborate and fussy. The gate is an interesting variation on the Roman triumphal arch, with a Mannerist Attic storey surmounted by a stag and hounds, motifs that give a foretaste of the complete scheme of iconography related to the hunt and Diana that ran through the château, for de L'Orme designed it for Diane de Poitiers (1499–1566), mistress (from c.1533) of King Henri II (reigned 1547–59). The chapel at Anet (1547–55) is a variation on the circular form, with coffering in the dome shaped like bent lozenges echoed in the design of the marble floor: it is a master-work of stereotomy. The celebrated jubé in the Church of St-Étienne-du-Mont, Paris (c.1545), is no longer attributed to him. He designed the stone bridge and gallery at Chenonceaux (1556–9), completed (1576–8) by Bullant.

De L'Orme established a French version of Classicism that was influential until C18, and his work was followed closely by Bullant, Salomon de Brosse, and F. Mansart. His published works include Nouvelles inventions pour bien bastir (New Inventions to Build Well—1561) and Le premier Tome de l'Architecture (The First Book of Architecture—1567 and later editions). Apart from useful practical considerations, some of the published designs for buildings are extraordinary, and include a basilica with a great arched wooden roof that looks like a C19 train-shed; there are also references to Divine systems of proportion and measurement and the importance of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem in tempering the rules of Classicism. He produced his own versions of the Orders, including a column with a pruned tree as the shaft, but his ‘French Orders’ had decorated bands to disguise the joints in the drums of the shaft, and this motif he used in his work at the Tuileries Palace, Paris (1564–70—mostly destroyed). French rationalism owed much to de L'Orme, and his system of timber trusses to span great widths was revived by Legrand and Molinos for the dome of the Halle au Blé, Paris (1782–3). His work inspired Jefferson in the USA and David Gilly in Prussia. Viollet-le-Duc recognized his importance in his Entretiens (1858–72).

Berty (1860);Blunt (1982, 1997);Brion-Guerry (1960);Hautecœur (1943);M. Mayer (1953);Orme (1567);Placzek (ed.) (1982);Pérouse de Montclos (2000);Potie (1996);Pré vost (1948);D. Watkin (1986)

Subjects: Architecture.


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