Boullée, Étienne-Louis


Boullée, Étienne-Louis
born Feb. 12, 1728, Paris, Fr.
died Feb. 6, 1799, Paris

French architect, theorist, and teacher.

He studied architecture and opened his own studio by age 19. Through his investigation of the properties of geometric forms, to which he attributed innate symbolic qualities, Boullée achieved a pure, modern Classicism. His greatest influence was as a teacher and theorist. In a series of theoretical plans for public monuments, culminating in the design (1784) for an immense sphere that would serve as a cenotaph honouring Isaac Newton, he gave imaginary form to his theories.

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▪ French architect
born Feb. 12, 1728, Paris, France
died Feb. 6, 1799, Paris

      French visionary architect, theorist, and teacher.

      Boullée wanted originally to be a painter, but, following the wishes of his father, he turned to architecture. He studied with J.-F. Blondel and Germain Boffrand and with J.-L. Legeay and had opened his own studio by the age of 19. He designed several Parisian city mansions in the 1760s and '70s, notably the Hôtel de Brunoy (1774–79). Despite the innovative Neoclassicism of his executed works, Boullée achieved a truly lasting influence as a teacher and theorist. Through his atelier passed such masters as A.-T. Brongniart, J.-F.-T. Chalgrin, J.-N.-L. Durand, A.-F. Peyre, and L.-M. Thibault. In all, he taught for over 50 years.

      In his important theoretical designs for public monuments, Boullée sought to inspire lofty sentiments in the viewer by architectural forms suggesting the sublimity, immensity, and awesomeness of the natural world, as well as the divine intelligence underlying its creation. At the same time, he was strongly influenced by the indiscriminate enthusiasm for antiquity, and especially Egyptian monuments, felt by his contemporaries.

      The distinguishing aspect of Boullée's mature work is his abstraction of the geometric forms suggested by ancient works into a new concept of monumental building that would possess the calm, ideal beauty of classical architecture while also having considerable expressive power. In his famous essay La Théorie des corps, Boullée investigated the properties of geometric forms and their effect on the senses, attributing “innate” symbolic qualities to the cube, pyramid, cylinder, and sphere, the last regarded as an ideal form. In a series of projects for public monuments, culminating in the design (1784) for an immense sphere that would serve as a cenotaph honouring the British physicist Isaac Newton, Boullée gave imaginary form to his theories. The interior of the cenotaph was to be a hollow globe representing the universe.

      To bring geometric forms to life, Boullée depended on striking and original effects of light and shadow. He also emphasized the potential for mystery in building, often burying part of a structure. This “poetic” approach to architecture, in some ways prefiguring the 19th-century Romantic movement, may also be seen in Boullée's extensive use of symbolism. For example, his Palais Municipal rests on four pedestal-like guardhouses, demonstrating that society is supported by law.

      Boullée's emphasis on the psychology of the viewer is a principal theme of his Architecture, essai sur l'art, not published until the 20th century. He has been criticized as a megalomaniac, because of his tendency toward grandiose proposals, but these should be regarded simply as visionary schemes rather than as practical projects. In his desire to create a unique, original architecture appropriate to an ideal new social order, Boullée anticipated similar concerns in 20th-century architecture.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Boullée, Étienne-Louis — (1728 1799)    architect, artist    Born in Paris, Étienne Louis Boullée was a neoclassical architect, best known for his visionary but unrealized designs for ideal buildings. At first trained as a painter, after 1740 he built private mansions… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Boullée, Étienne-Louis — (12 feb. 1728, París, Francia–6 feb. 1799, París). Arquitecto, teórico y profesor francés. Estudió arquitectura y abrió su propio estudio a la edad de 19 años. A través de su investigación de las propiedades de las formas geométricas, a las… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • BOULLÉE, Étienne-Louis — (1728 1799)    See NEO CLASSICAL ARCHITECTURE …   Historical Dictionary of Architecture

  • Etienne-Louis Boullee — Étienne Louis Boullée Étienne Louis Boullée, Projet de cénotaphe à Newton, vue en élévation, 1784 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Étienne-Louis Boullée — Étienne Louis Boullée, Projet de cénotaphe à Newton, vue en élévation, 1784 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Étienne-louis boullée — Étienne Louis Boullée, Projet de cénotaphe à Newton, vue en élévation, 1784 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Etienne-Louis Boullee — Étienne Louis Boullée [bule] (* 12. Februar 1728 in Paris; † 6. Februar 1799 in Paris) war ein klassizistischer französischer Architekt, der teilweise bis heute die zeitgenössische Architektur beeinflusst. Gemeinsam mit Claude Nicolas Ledoux ist… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Etienne Louis Boullée — Étienne Louis Boullée [bule] (* 12. Februar 1728 in Paris; † 6. Februar 1799 in Paris) war ein klassizistischer französischer Architekt, der teilweise bis heute die zeitgenössische Architektur beeinflusst. Gemeinsam mit Claude Nicolas Ledoux ist… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Étienne-Louis Boullée — Cenotafio a Newton, 1784 Nacimiento 12 de febrero de 1728 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Étienne-Louis Boullée — (February 12, 1728 February 4, 1799) was a visionary French neoclassical architect whose work greatly influenced contemporary architects and is still influential today. Life Born in Paris, he studied under Jacques François Blondel, Germain… …   Wikipedia


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