Architecture, Print Culture and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century France

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Architecture, Print Culture, and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century France focuses on the complex ways in which architectural practice, theory, patronage, and experience became modern with the rise of a mass public and a reconfigured public sphere between the end of the seventeenth century and the French Revolution.

Presenting both a fresh theoretical orientation and a large body of new primary research, it offers a new cultural history of virtually all the major monuments of eighteenth-century Parisian architecture, with detailed analyses of the public debates that erupted around such Parisian monuments as the east façade of the Louvre, the Place Louis XV [the Place de la Concorde], and the church of Sainte-Geneviève [the Panthéon]. With these investigations, Wittman also reflects upon how the transformation of the public sphere altered the human relation to architecture, and to space in general, by privileging a virtual rather than embodied experience of publicness.

Depicting the passage of architecture into a mediatized public culture as a turning point, and interrogating it as a symptom of the distinctily modern configuration of individual, society, and space that emerged during this period, this study will interest readers well beyond the discipline of architectural history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This book suceeds admirably in clarifying an architectural culture with plenty of original points of view and exciting ideas that place eighteenth-century French architecture in a new perspective, and open new ways to assess and appreciate architectural writing and historiography.'Freek Scmidt, CAA Reviews
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Richard Wittman is Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a cultural historian of early modern and modern European architecture and town planning, with secondary interests in theory and the historiography of architecture.

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Table of Contents

Illustration credits viii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

The book and the building 1

Change in the seventeenth-century French public sphere 5

The Royal Academy of Architecture 13

Part 1 The Academy and the public 17

1 A network for debate 19

Germain Brice and critical spectatorship 19

The second generation at the Academy 24

Frémin and Cordemoy 27

Brice after Cordemoy 32

The public and the Academy at the death of Louis XIV 34

2 The aestheticizing discourse of print 39

Architecture and the readership of the Mercure 39

An "incomparable" cathedral 42

3 Architecture and civic ideals 50

Nostalgia, public spirit, and affect 51

The collapse of the first academic project 57

Louis XV rules alone 60

Part II Architecture, politics, and public life 63

4 The city as critical allegory 65

The rise of the Lenormand 66

The parlementaire view of the city: Bachaumont and the Louvre 68

The Fontaine de Grenelle and the weight of public opinion 72

How to read the city 75

5 The debate on the Place Louis XV and the Louvre 80

To launch a cause célèbre 81

La Font de Saint-Yenne's L'Ombre du Grand Colbert 85

Debates and decisions after April 1749 88

Architecture and the public word 91

Part III The impact of public debate 95

6 Marigny's program 97

Cochin and connoisseurship 99

Marigny's priorities 101

The Louvre restoration and the Grand Conseil 103

Uncovering Sainte-Geneviève 111

7 A public for architecture 114

Architecture in the Année littéraire and the Journal æeconomique 115

Retheorizing architecture for a new public 118

The limits of the public 120

18 A new paradigm forpublicity 123

Architects reassess publicity 124

The official counterattack of the 1760s 130

Part IV The crisis of architectural representation 139

9 Sainte-Geneviève and the unraveling of a tradition 141

Sainte-Geneviève and the Middle Ages 142

A revised narrative 149

Desboeufs and Marigny 153

Patte versus Soufflot 158

10 Politics and monuments under Louis XVI 166

Works on paper 166

Reformist burlesque 174

Corrosive criticism and critical burlesque 178

11 Private interest and the rhetoric of public good 181

The Halle au Blé 181

The Théâtre-Français 183

The Théâtre-Italien: an arriviste returns to the Boulevard 189

12 The disrepute of architecture 196

The accomplice of oppression 196

The rhetoric of severity 199

Anti-monumentality 207

Conclusion: the image of unity 210

Abbreviations 219

Notes 221

Bibliography 259

Index 285

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