Philibert de l'Orme

Philibert de l'Orme
     Philibert De L'Orme
     Catholic_Encyclopedia Philibert De L'Orme
    Celebrated architect of the French Renaissance, born at Lyons, c. 1515 or a little later; died at Paris, 8 January, 1570; Of the exact date of his birth there exists no documentary evidence; He was the son of Jehan de L'Orme, a master builder of Lyons, from whom he received his training. At an age when he speaks of himself as being "of great youth" Philibert was at Rome, where his curiously careful and scientific study of classic antiquities attracted the attention of the learned Cardinal of Santa Croce, then a bishop, later Pope Marcellus II, through whose influence he was employed by Paul III. From this service he was recalled to Lyons two years later, in 1536, by Guillaume du Bellay and his brother Cardinal Jean du Bellay. Soon after his return de L'Orme was made military controller, an office he held until 1545, when he was named by the king "master architect and general conductor of buildings works and fortifications." In this capacity he ingeniously averted a threatened attack of the English upon the dismantled château of Brest by means of mock cannon and an improvised soldiery. At various subsequent periods, he was endowed by royal favour with the title of counsellor and almoner ordinary of the king, and was made Abbé of Géveton, of Barthélemy, of Saint-Eloy-les-Noyon, besides receiving other such sinecures; he was also appointed a canon of Notre-Dame at Paris. Though it was the usage of the time for the king to bestow upon laymen the title and benefices of an abbé as reward or salary, it has been conjectured from the double title of king's almoner and canon of Notre-Dame, that de L'Orme had received minor orders. Between the years 1541 and 1559, during which he held the position of royal architect under Francis I and Henry II, de L'Orme altered, enlarged, and restored numerous châteaux, notably those of Villers-Cotterets, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fontainebleau, and Vincennes. His first individual achievement of importance, however, was the château of Saint-Maur-les-Fossés, originally designed for Cardinal du Bellay, Bishop of Paris, but afterwards taken over by Catherine de' Medici. Of this notable work almost nothing remains. In 1552 the château d'Anet, regarded as the best example of de L'Orme's genius, was begun for Diana of Poitiers, mistress of Henry II. Benvenuto Cellini's famous bronze Diana, now in the Louvre, was executed for this building and other eminent artists assisted in its decoration.
    The death of Henry II (1559) marked the turning-point of de L'Orme's prosperity. His large revenues, as well as his rugged independence had made for him envious and contentious enemies, not the least formidable of whom was the poet Ronsard. During the period of unpopularity which succeeded he issued, in 1561, the work "Nouvelles inventions pour bien bastir et a petits fraiz" (How to Build Well and at Small Expense). This was subsequently a part of his notable treatise on architecture which contains much lively autobiography; the first volume of this work appeared at Paris in 1567 under the title: "Le premier tome de 1'architecture de Philibert de L'Orme". In 1564 he laid the foundations of the historic château of the Tuileries for Catherine de' Medici. The initial part of the structure, however, suffered a complete change under other hands. The Tuileries was the last important undertaking of the architect, who was buried with the honours of a canon of Notre-Dame. The claim has been made by some biographers that de L'Orme designed for Saint-Denis the Valois Chapel, now destroyed; there is much doubt as to his exact share in various other works with which he is known to have been associated. The only great work of de L'Orme now actually remaining is the tomb of Francis I in Saint-Denis at Paris.
    DILKE, Renaissance of Art in France (London, 1879); BERTY, Les grands architectes français de la Renaissance (Paris, 1860); PASSERON, Philibert de L'Orme in Bibliographie des artistes lyonnais (Lyons, 1835); CALLET, Notice historique sur la vie artistique et les ouvrages de quelques architectes français du XVIe siècle (Paris, 1842); DESTAILLEUR, Notice sur quelques artistes français (Paris, 1863): DU CERCEAU, Les plus excellents bastiments de France (Paris, 1870); VACHON, Philibert de L'Orme in Les artistes célèbres (Paris, 1887); ROUSSEL, Le château de Diane de Poitiers à Anet (Paris, 1883); CHARVET, Philibert de L'Orme à Saint-Denis in Biographies d'architectes.
    Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
     Philibert de l'Orme
     Catholic_Encyclopedia Philibert de l'Orme
    An architect, born about 1512; died 1570. His style, classical and of the more severe Italian type, later developed characteristics showing greater personal independence. He has also importance as an author on subjects in his particular line, and is our chief source of information on his own works and the events of his life, although his writings are not devoid of exaggerations. While still a youth he went to Rome; he would probably have remained there in the service of Paul III, had not Cardinal du Bellay and others urged him to go to France. Soon after his return to his native city of Lyons (1536) he gave evidence of his originality as an artist in the invention of the trompe vaulting, so popular with the French, i. e. arches with double curves supporting weight imposed on them from the side and in the artistic stone carving, which gives them their charm. He was obliged to leave the portal of St. Nizier at Lyons incomplete in order to build the château of St. Maur-les-Fossés at Paris for Bellay, which he later had to enlarge. According to his own statements, he introduced in this important innovations, e. g. in the construction of columns, In 1538 he prevented the occupation of Brest by the English. Francis I now deputed him to make a semiannual inspection of the fortifications on the coast of Brittany, and review and provide for the vessels stationed there, and appointed him commandant of fortifications. In 1547 Orme began work on the king's tomb. Under Henry II he was promoted until he finally became supervisor of all royal buildings. In this capacity he directed the work on the châteaux of Fontainebleau, St-Germain-en-Laye, Madrid etc., and had at the same time to investigate the character of the service which had been rendered Francis I in connexion with these undertakings.
    While in his fifties he built the château of Anet and Meudon. The former, in which he was allowed complete liberty, is of special importance for the study of his style; the disposition of the columns shows the pure classic style. An unfortunate arrangement of some water-piping in the second building, in itself a very important piece of work, brought on him the mockery of his jealous rivals. Although he was a layman, the king and queen granted him various abbeys, the revenues from which made him a wealthy man. He experienced for a time the disfavour of the court, and in 1559 was superseded by Primaticcio as supervisor of royal buildings. In 1564 he was commissioned by the regent to build the Tuileries. According to his plan, of which he himself gives a detailed description and appreciation, the whole was to be in the form of a quadrangle, with four corner pavilions, enclosing a large central court and four smaller courts, an entrance being provided on each of the two longer sides of the rectangle. Only the garden façade was completed. The central pavilion with the cupola is especially beautiful. In this the master took liberties which despite his admiration for the classic, he proclaimed as theoretical. He wrote that he had never found columns or ornamentation exhibiting like proportions or even similar arrangement of columns, and that the limitations of the architect came less from the prescribed measurements than from the stipulations made with regard to the building. This accounts for the "French column", among other things in the Tuileries, with its Ionic capital, but consisting of many fluted drums, separated by ornamental bands. Above all, Orme's works are not devoid of curious attempts at originality. In the last years he wished to work out his compositions according to "Biblical laws and sacred numbers".
    As an author, Orme would have taken his place beside Vitruvius and Alberti had he completed his work on "Architecture". In two of the nine books of the first volume he deals in a masterly manner with stone-carving and the construction of the vault. A new edition of his work was issued by C. Nizet in 1894. Another work he entitled "Nouvelles inventions pour bien bâtir et à petits frais", as he describes in this his device for constructing roofs of great span by bolting together planks (instead of using single heavy beams). This was republished at Rouen in 1648 with his "Architecture". Of interest in itself, and also as illustrating his activity, is a memoir in which he defends himself against the attacks of his adversaries. This was incorporated by Berty in the "Grands architectes français de la Renaissance" (Paris, 1860).
    PALUSTRE, La Ranaissance en France (Paris, 1879); VON GEYMÜLLER, Die Baukunst der Renaissance in Frankreich (Stuttgart, 1896 and 1901); DESTAILLEUR, Notices sur quelques artistes français (Paris, 1863).
    Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. — New York: Robert Appleton Company. . 1910.

Catholic encyclopedia.

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