LeDeuzzy, Q.
Emil Kaufmann

I believe in multiple choice
Three Revolutionary Architects, Boullee, Ledoux, and Lequeu

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Reconstruction, Fortuna temple of Praeneste

Drawing instruction - Methode de tracer

Town hall-Hôtel de Ville

Jean-Jacques Lequeu was born at Rouen on September 14, 1757. His father, Jean-Jacques-François seems to have been a cabinet maker or a designer of furniture, with some interest in landscape architecture and in architecture itself. Scattered among the collection of drawings by his son in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris are several by the elder Lequeu: a mantelpiece, signed and dated 1745; a sideboard with Rococo carving, signed and dated 1750; two portals for the palace of an archbishop, dated 1766; the layout of a garden; the elevation of a monumental terrace building representing, apparently, the temple of Fortuna at Praeneste, and others.

The younger Lequeu was to follow the father in his various activities but with this difference, that architecture played the major role in his life, interior decoration the minor. As a pupil of the school of design at Rouen, he was awarded prizes in 1776 and 1778. The director of the school, the painter Jean-Baptiste Descamps the elder, was favorably impressed by Lequeu's ability and wished him to carry on his architectural studies in Paris. Descamps persuaded the artist's uncle, a priest, to grant the young man a two­year pension and Lequeu went to the capital in 1779.

On the day following his arrival he sought to present himself, with several letters of introduction, to Jacques­Germain Soufflot, but the aging architect of the Pantheon was ailing and could receive him only a few days later. Then Soufflot recommended him to the architect, and friend of Boullée, Julien-David Le Roy, the renowned editor of Ruines . . . de la Grèce, who accepted him as a student of the Royal Academy. Soufflot also permitted him to work in his own studio together with his nephew, François Soufflot, who had just arrived from Rome. Lequeu never forgot Soufflot's benevolence. In his later days he donated a collection of engravings of Soufflot's works to the Bibliothèque Imperiale, with a dedication in which he names himself Soufflot's pupil, and a brief handwritten record of the great architect's life. Most certainly Lequeu called on other artists also to whom he appears to have been recommended by Descamps, such as the engraver and secretary of the Academy of Painting, Cochin, the sculptors Caffieri and Gois, several painters and the architect, Franque.

In the first years of his stay in Paris, Lequeu continued to devote himself to teaching architectural design just as he had already done at Rouen. A handwritten announcement of his lessons ("Avis aux amateurs") and many painstakingly carried out drawings dated from 1777-1784 inform us about this side of his activities.

In 1779, perhaps still before his journey to Paris, he tried his hand at a large architectural project, a town hall for Rouen, which later brought him recognition in his native town.

Temple du silence

Church for Marsailles - Eglise des Capuchines de Marseille

Porte du Parisis

It must have been in the early seventeen-eighties that he made the Italian tour with the Comte de Bouville. He mentions it in a little note, and several drawings also testify to this journey. One carries the legend "al campidoglio," another "Nella villa Medici," and a third, "Candelabre antique à Ste. Agnèse." The "Progetto . . . del Grande Padiglione Italianamente" (sic) is dated 1783. Back home, in 1786, Lequeu, though living in Paris, was nominated adjoint associé of the Académie Royale des Sciences, Belles Lettres et Arts de Rouen.

In a further note, and also in an application submitted to the Minister of the Interior in 1801, Lequeu states that he built the Casino of Madame de Meulenaer in 1786. In this application he declares he also erected a Maison de plaisance for the Comte de Bouville in the same year. (In a drawing he calls this house "Temple du silence," dating it 1788.)

About this time he was still employed by Soufflot, "dit le Romain" (as he describes him to distinguish him from the architect of the Panthéon). When the younger Soufflot carried out the Hôtel Montholon on the Boulevard Montmartre, Lequeu was "a draughtsman and inspector" under him, providing also designs for furniture.

I could not ascertain whether our architect executed the Church of the Capuchin Nuns of Marseille, which he illustrates in a drawing dated 1788. In the application of 1801 he lists as further achievements the project for the parochial church of St. Germain-en­Laye and one for a hospital at Bordeaux in 1788.

He also states that he was the Chef de l'un des ateliers publics in the faubourg Saint-Antoine in 1790 and 1791 and that he took part in the preparations for the first great revolutionary festival, the Fête de la fédération on the Champ-de-Mars, on July 14, 1790.

The era of political upheaval brought about an important change in Lequeu's career. He had to give up the free profession of an architect, and became a civil servant, for he had lost all his property, and the general situation, of course, was unfavorable to building. He entered the office of the cadastre in the first year of the Republic (1793), and remained employed there until the office was discontinued in 1801. Yet in the beginning of his new career in the year II, his art was to do him a good service in a highly critical moment. He must have aroused suspicion. To prove his genuine republican feelings, he produced an odd drawing titled "Porte du Parisis," and submitted it to the Committee of Public Safety.




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