(Lafond de Saint-Yenne, Etienne François)
L’ombre du grand Colbert, le Louvre, et la Ville de Paris, dialogue.
La Haye, 1749.
8vo. 165 + (1)pp. Contemporary full calf, gilt spine, worn at head of spine and outer corners. The copy is bound with a copy of Lettres de Nicolas de Neufville, Seigneur de Villeroy, ministre et secretaire d’état, ecrites à Jacques de Matignon, Maréchal de France, depuis l’année 1581 jusqu’en l’année 1596, Montelimart, 1749, 236pp (seemingly a scarce title in the book trade today).
First and only edition of this imaginary three-handed dialogue between the ghost of Colbert (Louis XIV’s principal minister), the Louvre, and the city of Paris. Lafond (or Lafont) de Saint-Yenne had made his reputation as one of France’s earliest art critics, and he takes the opportunity here to deplore the current state of the Gallerie d’Apollon, the picture gallery which was the only part of the Louvre to which the general public was admitted, and to express regret for the removal of most of the paintings in the French royal collection to Versailles. The principal purpose of the present publication was however to highlight the failure of successive French ministers since Colbert’s time to take any real interest in the Louvre as a building or in the architectural planning of the surrounding area. In the process he has much to say about Colbert in his role as a patron of architecture, the fine arts and commerce, and he discusses the respective roles of Bernini and Claude Perrault in the design of the Louvre’s east wing. He also praises the celebrated garden designer André Le Nôtre for laying out what was to become the Champs Elysées and for his work for Louis XIV at Versailles. Notes at the end of the book expand on some issues mentioned in the text, and a long note on pp 144-9 records an unfamiliar project for a new public hospital in the centre of Paris by an architect named Destouches, a pupil of La Guépière. Not in BAL Cat.