From history to posterity: The <i>œuvres complètes</i> of Jacques -François Blondel and Claude -Nicolas Ledoux

2002 2002

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

In the late eighteenth century, the philosophical debate on time and the nature of history contributed to transform the Classical system of thought into a new one, where the idea of time and the consciousness of history invested all the fields of human knowledge. This study examines architects' struggle with this debate, and how the new historical consciousness not only changed architectural theory, but the relation that architects had with writing.

In the 1770s, philosophers and writers concerned with posterity, Diderot, Rousseau and Voltaire in particular, put together œuvres complètes intended to constitute a final image of both the work and the author, and destined to the future centuries. Architects, also concerned with posterity, started to look at the text as the privileged agent of historical survival, and the best way to ensure the transmission of their ideas. As an architectural work and an intellectual tool more versatile than the building, the treatise provided the opportunity to reopen and complete a life's oeuvre.

Through his teaching and treatises Jacques-Francois Blondel constituted the first ‘body of doctrines’ of French architectural theory. Blondel was also conscious of the importance for architects to write and transmit their ideas to the future generations. At the end of his life, a small treatise in the form of an epistolary novel with autobiographical tones, allowed him to address a public image he resented, and revise some of the theories he advocated early in his career. L'Architecture… of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux epitomizes the idea of œuvres complètes in architecture. Started as a conventional collection of plates destined to patrons, it evolved to become the venue were Ledoux revisited, recreated and completed his work, but also recreated himself as a character and an author inseparable from his work. Ledoux offered his treatise to a new public, that of the future and posterity. The book marks a decisive shift and an inaugural moment, from which a new power and meaning were ascribed to the written text. Beyond participating to a theoretical debate within well defined limits, architects realized that the text could be the medium of historical survival and the site of architecture.

Indexing (details)

0729: Architecture
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Blondel, Jacques-Francois; Eighteenth century; France; Ledoux, Claude-Nicolas
From history to posterity: The <i>œuvres complètes</i> of Jacques -François Blondel and Claude -Nicolas Ledoux
Benaissa, Ramla
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 63/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493928647, 0493928642
Rykwert, Joseph
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.