Coussin, J(ean) A(ntoine)
Du génie de l’architecture. Ouvrage ayant pour but de rendre cet art accessible au sentiment commun, en le rappelant à son origine, à ses propriétés, à son génie; et contenant une doctrine générale puisée dans les faits, dans d’innombrables exemples anciens et modernes (etc).
Paris, Firmin Didot 1822.
4to. xii + 297 + (3)pp, 60 engraved plates, also engraved headpieces. Mid nineteenth century quarter cloth, marbled boards. A little spotting on text pages.
First and only edition. Coussin (1770-1849) had won the Grand Prix de Rome when an architectural student in 1797, and the present volume records his prize-winning design of that date for public granaries, as well as a design for the restoration of the temple of Vesta which he had done while a student at the Ecole Française de Rome. His book was intended as a guide to the highspots of the history of world architecture, and its good coverage of the architecture of the ancient world, including that of Egypt, and of the architecture of the Far East, contrasts with its rather perfunctory treatment of the mediaeval architecture of Western Europe. In this it reflects the intellectual climate of the author’s own time, and the book’s interest chiefly lies in what he chooses to highlight as the most pleasing architectural sights in Paris, Florence and Rome. The plates, illustrating selected buildings and their ground plans in etched outline, have the added attraction that their captions are engraved in especially elegant capital lettering. Coussin’s own output as a practising architect was minor, but the present book, evidently printed in a significant number of copies, remains a good record of what kind of building of the past appealed to French architects in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.