The History of Art through Its Monuments from Its Decline in the Fourth Century to Its Renewal in the Sixteenth


Histoire de l'art par les monuments depuis sa decadence au IV siecle jusqu'a son renouvellement au XVI
I arrive, finally, at what I can call the aesthetic part of my work, that in which the history of monuments should be transformed into the history of art. What I have presented to this point could be compared to an immense Museum, where the principal productions of the three arts, during a long series of centuries, offer themselves to the gaze, classified and described in an order at the same time systematic and chronological. What must be done now in order to draw from such a spectacle the fertile results it is destined to produce, the useful lessons that are to be found concealed therein? To lead the spectators in some way to confront the mass of the facts that constitute this material history and to point out to them its order and sequence; to stop them for a longer time before those that present more interest and to study them, in isolation or in groups, according to all the relationships I willingly call technical; to determine, finally, the special character and their reciprocal influences, fixing at once their relative and their absolute value; that is what should complete a history of art as I have conceived it.
Seroux d'Agincourt


That Seroux referred to his work as a museum is reason enough to include the Histoire within the lineage of virtual museums of architecture; it is not the only reason, however. Seroux's entire approach manifests the concepts of conservation, ordering of information, and presentation to an audience, essentially the operational concepts of any museum. That Seroux also took a serious historical approach further heightens the museum metaphor, making the Histoire not only an admirable virtual museum of architecture, but also one that is rare in its "collection of decadent architecture" stemming from the period between the end of the Roman empire and the Italian Renaissance.
seeking precedents... ...finding inspiration


Jean-Baptiste-Louis-George Seroux d'Agincourt, The History of Art through Its Monuments from Its Decline in the Fourth Century to Its Renewal in the Sixteenth (1811-1823).



2003.09.28 13:39
29 September, the end of reenactment season
24 September 1814: the death of J-B-L-G Seroux d'Agincourt.
I have cursorily known of Seroux d'Agincourt since purchasing a bound edition of his 70-odd architectural engravings for $50. at a Philadelphia used book store in 1984, and in 1988 I became more aware of Seroux's work via Anthony Vidler's "The Decline and Fall of Architecture: Style and Epoch in Gibbon and Seroux d'Agincourt" in The Writing of the Walls. Here I found out that the engravings I have are from a much larger work (in French, whose title translates The History of Art Through Its Monuments From Its Decline in the Fourth Century to Its Renewal in the Sixteenth). Seroux makes reference to this work as itself (like) a museum (of architecture, sculpture and art), and several of Seroux's engraved plates were on display during Quondam's first two years online. While Seroux's architecture engravings (in Quondam's collection) are very engaging, they are also frustrating (for me) because each individual drawing is numbered, but no text was included with the engravings (as purchased). About a month ago I found that Seroux's entire work was translated into English in 1843, and that a copy of this edition is within Temple University's Paley Library, albeit in the behind-locked-doors limited circulation collection. It turns out that 'limited circulation' means borrowing privileges for two weeks instead of four weeks. It took me the better part of a week to electronically transcribe Seroux's text, and it turns out that the engravings present a history of architecture depicted in more or less strict chronological order, thus manifesting (something like) a vast evolutionary chart that diagrams whole buildings, as well as building parts like arches, walls, columns, capitals, and bases, and domes. It didn't take me long to see that Seroux's method would be favorably enhanced via HTML.


2003.09.28 16:55
Re: Quite a reenactor!!!
I see the possibility of Seroux's work being enhanced via HTML in that throughout the text that accompanies each engraved plate there are references from an image or set of images on one engraved plate to other images on another or even several other engraved plates--hyperlinkage could be of benefit here. Moreover, I found that aspects/details of many buildings are distributed throughout the whole set of engravings. For example, a plan of a church may be displayed with other church plans of the same era, but a column from this church is depicted on another engraving that presents a vast variety of columns all arranged in chronological order. The same disbursement goes for details of arches, walls, and domes. In redoing the work utilizing HTML, not only can the work be recreated as originally published albeit with hyperlinks, but whole new 'plates' of drawings can be composed where (for the first time) all aspects of an individual building are displayed together, and these new displays can then be further worked via hyperlinks into the historical outline Seroux already established. I'd also like to add some new text to the Histoire.
Interestingly enough, the drawings (by many top-notch French architectural apprentices that Seroux hired) on which the engravings are based are now at the Vatican Library. And, according to Vidler, the original drawings far surpass the engraved drawings, mostly because the engraved drawings are much reduced from the original size.
My favorite 'discovery' to come out of this exercise so far is learning about the Basilica of St. Stefano, Bologna, thirteenth century, a religious compound where the Court of Pilate and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem were/are specifically reenacted.

Decline of Architecture from the Fourth Century to the Establishment of the Gothic System
001   Antique Architecture in its state of perfection among the Greeks and the Romans.
002   Commencement of the decline of Architecture in the reigns of Septimus Severus, Diocletian, and Constantine. Second, third, and fourth centuries.
003   View of the interior of a court of the palace of Diocletian at Spalatro. Third century.
004   Basilica of St. Paul outside the wall of Rome, in its different states from its foundation in the fourth century until destroyed by fire.
005   Arch of the nave of the Basilica of St. Paul, sustained by two columns of different periods and style. Fourth century.
006   Corinthian base and column from the nave of the Church of St. Paul, of the best period of art.
007   Composite base and capital from the nave of the church of St. Paul, of the time of the construction of the church, in the fourth century.
008   Basilica of St. Agnes outside the walls of Rome; Church of St. Constance; Temple of Nocera. Fourth Century.
009   Table of the most celebrated catacombs, Pagan and Christian.
010   Plan of the Etruscan Catacombs of the ancient Tarquinia, near Corneto.
011   Another Part of the Etruscan Tombs of Tarquinia.
012   Tomb of the Scipios; Catacomb of St. Hermes; Tomb of this saint converted into an altar.
013   Chapels and Oratories of the Catacombs, the Forms of which, introduced in Christian Churches, have served to modify those of Antique Architecture.
014   Plan of the Church of S. Martino ai Monti at Rome. Example of a church erected over a subterranean oratory. Fourth century.
015   The Churches of St. Nazarus and St. Celsus at Ravenna. Imitation of a subterranean sepulchral chapel. Fifth century.
016   The Church of St. Clement at Rome. The best preserved model of the arrangement of the primitive church. Fifth century.
017   Palaces, Churches, and other constructions of the time of Theodoric, at Terracina, and at Ravenna. Fifth and sixth centuries.
018   Mausoleum of Theodoric at Ravenna, now Sta. Maria della Rotunda. Sixth Century.
019   Plans, elevations, and details of the Salaro Bridge, on the Teverone, near Rome, rebuilt by Narses. Sixth century.
020   Ancient Temple of the Caffarella, two miles from Rome, outside the gate of St. Sebastian, and above the Fountain of Egeria. One of the earliest examples of a Pagan temple consecrated to the Christian religion. Fourth century.
021   St. Peter in Chains. Example of a church constructed with antique columns.
022   St. Stephen the Round at Rome. Examples of an antique edifice converted to a church. Fifth or sixth century.
023   Church of St. Vitali at Ravenna, built under the reign of Justinian, and from drawings brought from the East.
024   Form of the churches and style of the architecture in Italy, during the reign of the Lombards. Sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries.
025   Improved state of architecture in Italy under Charlemagne in the ninth, and the Pisans in the tenth and eleventh centuries.
026   The Church of St. Sophia at Constantinople, St. Marc and other churches at Venice, in the Modern Greek style. Tenth and eleventh centuries.
027   General view of the decline of Architecture in the East.
028   Lowest degree of the decline of Architecture in Italy. Thirteenth century.
029   Monastic edifices, plans, elevation, and details of the Monastery of Sta. Scholastica, at Subiaco, near Rome. Thirteenth century.
030   Plans and sections of the Cloisters of the Church of St. John Lateran, and of St. Paul outside the walls of Rome. Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
031   Cloisters of the Church of St. Paul outside the walls of Rome; general sections at large, and details of the bases and capitals of the columns. Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
032   Cloister of St. Paul outside the walls of Rome; plans and elevations at large of portion of the fašade. Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
033   Cloister of St. Paul. Detail of the entablature enriched with mosaics; ornaments sculptured between the arches. Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
034   Plan, elevations, and detail of the House of Pilate at Rome. Eleventh century.

Reign of the system of architecture called Gothic, from the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, to the middle of the fifteenth.
035   Earliest indications of Gothic Architecture in Italy, at the Abbey of Subiaco near Rome. Ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries.
036   Selection from different buildings, exhibiting the Gothic style, from its origin in the ninth, to the thirteenth century.
037   Plans, sections, and details of the upper and lower Churches of St. Francis ar Assisi. Thirteenth century.
038   Plan, section, and fašade of the Church of St. Flavian, near one of the gate of Montefiascone. Eleventh and thirteenth centuries.
039   Plans, longitudinal sections, and parts at large of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris. Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
040   Porch, side elevation, view of the interior, and details of the decoration of Notre Dame at Paris. Twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
041   Principal monuments of Gothic Architecture, from different countries of Europe, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the most brilliant epoch of this system.
042   Chronological series of arches and other parts, which constitute the Gothic system of Architecture.
043   The Architecture of Sweden before the introduction of Gothic Architecture into that country.
044   State of Arabian Architecture in Europe, from the eighth to the fifteenth century.
045   Buildings from different countries, with some resemblance to the Gothic style, and which may have influenced its invention.
046   Conjectures on the origins, diverse forms, and employment of the pointed arch.

The revival of Architecture about the middle of the fifteenth century.
047   Plan and section of the Church of St. Laurence at Florance, by Philip Brunelleschi, the principal author of the revival of Architecture in the fifteenth century.
048   Inter-columniation and details of the interior order of the Church of St. Laurence at Florence, by Brunelleschi. Fifteenth century.
049   Plan, section, elevation, and details of the Church of the Holy Ghost at Florence, by Brunelleschi. Fifteenth century.
050   Collection of the principal works of Architecture by Philip Brunelleschi. Fifteenth century.
051   Plan, elevation, and details of the Church of St. Francis at Rimini, finished from the designs of Leon Baptista Alberti. Fifteenth century.
052   Churches of St. Andrew and St. Sebastian at Manuta, erected from the designs of Leon Baptista Alberti. Fifteenth century.
053   Triumphal Arch erected at Naples in honor of Alphonso the First of Aragon. Fifteenth century. Military fortifications.
054   Different Edifices erected at Rome and Naples. Thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.
055   Ancient theater of the Confratelli Della Passione at Velletri near Rome. Fifteenth century.

The re-establihment of Architecture at the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century.
056   Studies of Architecture drawn from the antique by Bramante and Antonio Sangallo.
057   The principal architectural works of Bramante Lazzari. Public buildings. Commencement of the sixteenth century.
058   Continuation of the works of Bramante Lazzari. Sacred edifices. Commencement of the sixteenth century.
059   Plans, elevations, and sections of the principal buildings erected from the designs of Michelangelo Bounarotti. Sixteenth century.
060   Details and profiles from the principal buildings constructed from the designs of Michelangelo. Sixteenth century.
061   Plans, sections, and details of the ancient and the new Basilica of St. Peter of the Vatican, Rome. Fourth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries.
062   General view of the Basilica of St. Peter, and the Palace of the Vatican.
063   Forms of the principal Baptisteries, peculiar edifices, owing their origin to the establishment of the Christian religion.
064   Historical and chronological table of the fronts of Temples before and during the decline of Art.
065   Table of architraves, used as beams, employed in the interior of buildings during the decline of art, and the different forms of arches which were substituted for them.
066   Principal form of the vaults and ceilings employed in the sacred buildings during the decadence in art.
067   Chronological and historical table of the invention and employment of the cupola, or dome.
068   Table of the forms and proportions of the columns employed before and during the decline of art to its restoration.
069   Chronological table of the different kinds of bases and capitals employed from the commencement of the decline of art to the Eleventh century.
070   Continuation of the Chronological table of the bases and capitals employed from the Eleventh to the sixteenth centuries.
071   Methods of construction in use before and during the decline of art.
072   Table of the style of Civil Architecture, during its decline, compared with that which it took at its restoration.
073   General table of the monuments which have served to form the history of the decline of Architecture.

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