1st Edition

The Architecture of Percier and Fontaine and the Struggle for Sovereignty in Revolutionary France

By Iris Moon Copyright 2017
    186 Pages
    by Routledge

    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    As the official architects of Napoleon, Charles Percier (1764–1838) and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762–1853) designed interiors that responded to the radical ideologies and collective forms of destruction that took place during the French Revolution. The architects visualized new forms of imperial sovereignty by inverting the symbols of monarchy and revolution, constructing meeting rooms resembling military encampments and gilded thrones that replaced the Bourbon lily with Napoleonic bees. Yet in the wake of political struggle, each foundation stone that the architects laid for the new imperial regime was accompanied by an awareness of the contingent nature of sovereign power. Contributing fresh perspectives on the architecture, decorative arts, and visual culture of revolutionary France, this book explores how Percier and Fontaine’s desire to build structures of permanence and their inadvertent reliance upon temporary architectural forms shaped a new awareness of time, memory, and modern political identity in France.

    Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations


    Introduction: Finding Revolutionary Architecture in the Decorative Arts

    1. Visionary Friendship at the End of the Ancien Régime
    2. Clean Sheets and Water Magic

      Architects in Training

      Roman Fever

      Solo Missions

      An Etruscan Friendship

    3. Propulsion and Residue: Constructing the Revolutionary Interior
    4. Rome à Rebours

      Staging Antiquity and Austerity

      Revolutionary Rearrangements

      Seek, Record, Destroy

      The Eternal Return of Luxury

    5. The Recueil de décorations intérieures: Furnishing a New Order
    6. Paper Studios

      Furnishing Techniques

      Strategies of Redaction

      Consuming Desires

      Writing Against Fashion

      Between the Lines

      Empire Styles

    7. The Platinum Cabinet: Luxury in Times of Uncertainty
    8. Pastoral Pastimes

      Incorruptible Precision

      Fast Times in Consulate Paris

      Haunting Season

    9. Tent and Throne: Architecture in a State of Emergency

      Après Coup

      Fantasies of the Ideal Villa

      A Permanent Work in Progress

      Little Pleasures

      The Moving Bivouac

      Political Theology

      Divorcing the Past

    Coda: Revolutionary Atonement



    Iris Moon is a visiting assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Pratt Institute, New York. She specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art, architecture, and the decorative arts.

    "Professor Moon observes that the identity of the nobility that had been “fixed in seigneurial rights and inalienable ties to the land” and which disappeared in the Revolution, was replaced by “the mercurial personalities of Directory society”and wealth from capital and movable properties." -- David P. Jordan, University of Illinois at Chicago, H-France Review