(Laugier, Marc Antoine)
Essai sur l’architecture.
Paris, Duchesne 1753.
8vo. (2) + xxxi + (1) + pp iii-xiv + (2) + 293 + (11)pp, with (4)pp approbation/privilege and an errata leaf. Contemporary mottled calf, neatly rebacked and repaired at outer corners. Ink ownership inscription on preliminary blank leaf of Paul Béraud, “missus a Lugdunensibus”, An 5, with a later ink explanatory note that this was one of the books owned by Paul Emilien Béraud, “deputé de la ville de Lyon au Conseil des 500”. A little browned at outer edges of text pages.
First edition of this celebrated contribution to the theory of architecture by the Jesuit priest Marc-Antoine Laugier (1713-1769), in which Laugier advocated “radical primitivism, epitomised by the hut consisting only of columns, entablature and roof” (as the authors of the BAL Catalogue put it). Also of particular interest are the way he supports his arguments by examples taken from individual buildings in Paris, including the cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Tuileries, and the church of St.Sulpice, and his remarks on such topics as urban planning and garden design. In this original edition Laugier’s name does not appear, and it was not until the issue in 1755 of an enlarged second edition, with additional text, an added engraved frontispiece and eight added engraved plates, that Laugier came out publicly as the volume’s author. This edition not in BAL Cat (the British Architectural Library, rather regrettably, only holds an incomplete copy of the 1755 second edition, BAL Cat 1774, and an incomplete copy of the first English-language edition, also published in 1755, BAL Cat 1775). The present copy belonged to Paul Emilien Béraud (1751-1836), a lawyer from Lyon (Rhône), who was elected to represent Lyon in the Conseil des Cinq-Cents, France’s functioning legislative assembly between 1795 and its suppression by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. It is interesting that Béraud should have been proud enough of his status as a member of this body that he should have described himself in his ownership inscription inside this copy in Latin as “missus a Lugdunensibus”, i.e. as the elected representative of the citizens of Lyon.