The Architecture of Percier and Fontaine and the Struggle for Sovereignty in Revolutionary France  book cover
1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781472480163
Published December 7, 2016 by Routledge
200 Pages

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USD $170.00

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Book Description

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

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


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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