Hailed as one of the key theoreticians of modernism, Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was also the most renowned restoration architect of his age, a celebrated medieval archaeologist and a fervent champion of Gothic revivalism. He published some of the most influential texts in the history of modern architecture such as the Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture franÃ§aise du XIe au XVIe siècle and Entretiens sur l’architecture, but also studies on warfare, geology and racial history. Martin Bressani expertly traces Viollet-le-Duc’s complex intellectual development, mapping the attitudes he adopted toward the past, showing how restoration, in all its layered meaning, shaped his outlook. Through his life journey, we follow the route by which the technological subject was born out of nineteenth-century historicism.
Martin Bressani is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director at the School of Architecture, McGill University, Canada.
'This is a magnum opus, in more than one sense of the term. An important work, the product of vast research and dedicated scholarship, Bressani’s biographical study is a timely contribution not only to architectural studies but also to the field of historical culture in general. Through tracing Viollet-le-Duc’s achievement in relation to the broad transition from Romanticism to Modernity, Bressani succeeds in bringing out his wider significance as an artist and thinker, and as a major figure in French Romanticism.’ Stephen Bann, Bristol University, UK
'This ambitious book is unprecedented ... Not only the author but the publisher should be commended for this stimulating, illuminating study, which will become a standard work of reference.' Burlington Magazine
'Somme toute, cet ouvrage biographique et empirique retrace d'une manière rarement approfondie, contextualisée et sourcée la vie et l'oeuvre du "maitre" du néogothique, l'appui d'une belle iconographie couleur pleinement au service du propos. La mise en perspective systématique avec l'histoire de l'architecture, de la société, de la pensée contemporaine, permet de situer d'autant mieux les motivations de son appel au médiévisme archéologique et la place singulière de son anti-académisme au sein de la communauté artistique de son temps ... le lecteur anglophone de France et d'ailleurs ne pourra que s'enrichir de cette somme qui nourrit amplement l'histoire de l'architecture - et de sa pensée - au XIXe siècle.' Sehepunkte
'A thoughtful and comprehensive account ... Bressani's discussion of [the Dictionnaire Raisonné de l'Architecture]. His perceptive thoroughnes extends to a careful discussion of the technique of the engraved illustrations.' Victorian
'The product of Bressani’s extraordinary specialized knowledge and deep research, [the book] makes extensive use of primary sources, including Viollet-le-Duc’s correspondence, and appropriate recent secondary sources in English and French. The book provides intriguing publication histories, perceptive analysis of Viollet-le-Duc’s texts and drawings, and fascinating accounts of nineteenth-century architectural debates, all of which historians will find useful.' CAA Reviews