The small but precious album was compiled in 1828 as a retirement gift for the French painter Pierre Narcisse Guérin (1774-1833), director of the French Academy in Rome. Guérin was one of the most influential painters and teachers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras.
Seventeen of his former pupils each contributed one design to the album. Painters and sculptors are well represented, but the most notable illustrations are by a new generation of French architects including Félix Duban, Henri and Théodore Labrouste, Joseph Louis Duc, and Léon Vaudoyer.
The architects' contributions "form something of a joint reverie on the nature of architecture and its relationship to the fragments of the past," said Barry Bergdoll, Chair of Columbia's department of Art History and Archaeology, adding that the album "offers a remarkable glimpse into the moment of gestation of architectural romanticism."
The album will be the subject of an essay by Professor Bergdoll in a forthcoming festschrift to honor the architectural historian Robin Middleton, published by Thames and Hudson.
The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library is one of the most outstanding and comprehensive collections relating to architecture and the fine arts in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archeology. The Library contains more than 400,000 volumes, including 35,000 rare books, and receives approximately 1,000 periodicals. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes one million architectural drawings and records. The Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, an operating program of the Getty Research Institute, which is the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design.
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