Théorie de l’architecture Grecque et Romaine, déduite de l’analise des monumens antiques … avec des planches et un discours préliminaire par Fr. Et. Joubert, graveur, membre de l’Athénée des Arts.
Paris, Joubert 1807.
Large folio. (4) + 56pp, 26 engraved plates (including engraved title leaf as plate 1 ; the volume’s printed title leaf is bound between p.18 and p.19). Contemporary full calf, neatly rebacked, the upper and lower covers slightly rubbed and scratched. From the library of the Guernsey Mechanics Institution, with their mid nineteenth century bookplate. Subsequently in the Guille-Allès Library, St Peter Port, Guernsey, with their early twentieth century bookplate and with their oval library stamps on the verso of the frontispiece and at the top of the first printed text leaf (but not elsewhere). Text leaves and plates varyingly browned at outer margins.
A rare and unfamiliar treatise on the theory of architecture, arranged in three parts and arguing that architecture is essentially a matter of mathematics and that true architectural beauty derives from arranging the parts of a building in proper geometric proportion. Its author, Louis Lebrun, who had originally come to Paris from his native town of Douai as an art student, records on the volume’s title leaf that he had been “dessinateur de l’expédition de Capitaine Baudin”, i.e. had been attached as a draughtsman to the French naval voyage of discovery to Australia and Tasmania commanded by Capt. Nicholas Baudin in 1800-4, but he had entirely missed the opportunity for fame that the expedition offered, for he had left Baudin’s ship at Mauritius on the journey out, and his subsequent career had been as an architect. The third part of the present book is much the most interesting, for in it Lebrun applies his theories of architectural proportion to Soufflot’s church of Ste. Geneviève (the Pantheon) in Paris, providing an emended and in his view correctly proportioned design for the building as a whole, and he also offers suggestions for the restoration of its central pillars (a plate compares his proposals with those by six other named architects). The volume also contains an extensive and opinionated introductory text contributed by its publisher, François Etienne Joubert fils. The only previous copy that we have handled, our Cat 49, item 65, is now in the library of the Stiftung Oechslin, Einsiedeln, Switzerland. BAL Cat 1797 (Joseph Gwilt’s copy).