Claude Perrault

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Claude Perrault
East facade of the Louvre with the colonnades designed by Perrault

Claude Perrault (born September 25, 1613 in Paris , † October 9, 1688 ibid) was an important French architect , art theorist , classical philologist , physician and natural scientist . He was the brother of the poet and art theorist Charles Perrault .


With the drafting of the "Ordonnance des cinq espèces des colonnes selon la méthode des anciens" (order of the five types of columns according to the method of the ancients), Paris 1683, Perrault formulated a system for the formation of the column orders that was important for French classical architecture . The most important French translation of the “Ten Books on Architecture” by the ancient Roman architectural writer Vitruvius ( Les dix livres d'architecture de Vitruve , Paris 1673, 2nd edition Paris 1684) comes from Claude Perrault .

Claude Perrault's writings were an important contribution to the position of the modern in the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes. An important opponent of the Perrault brothers on the side of the Anciens was the poet Nicolas Boileau . In the “Proportion Controversy”, Claude Perrault took the view against François Blondel that beauty is not based on eternal divine laws (“beautez positives”), but rather on time-related human agreements (“beautez arbitraires”).

Claude Perrault was, together with Louis Le Vau and Charles Le Brun, a member of the Petit Conseil du Louvre, an artist collective that was commissioned in 1667, after the failure of the Bernini plan, to design the new main facade of the Louvre on the east side. The dominant motif of the facade, the free-standing double columns above a podium (“Colonnades of the Louvre”) can be traced back to Claude Perrault and his brother Charles. In France in the 17th and 18th centuries, the facade was cited as evidence of the superiority of French over Italian, and even ancient, architecture and, with its hidden iron reinforcement, was also considered a marvel from a technical point of view. The Petit Conseil also designed the Louvre south facade to the Seine from 1667.

Claude Perrault designed the royal observatory in Paris, which was built between 1667 and 1672 . Furthermore, in 1669 he designed a large triumphal arch in honor of King Louis XIV on the Place du Trône, today's Place de la Nation , in Paris. It was realized in perishable material as a 1: 1 model and only partially implemented in stone, soon fell into disrepair and was removed in 1716. The Pavillon d'Aurore, built in 1672 in the palace gardens of Sceaux , is attributed by some authors to Claude Perrault. With a staircase design for the Louvre and a new building project for the Sainte-Geneviève church, Perrault transferred the colonnades as a support system into the vaulted interior, thus paving the way for the building ideas that were implemented in the Palace Chapel of Versailles from 1698 onwards .

Claude Perrault had a doctorate from the Sorbonne University in Paris and was one of the first members of the Académie Royale des Sciences in 1666 .

Perrault's brother Charles is best known for his fairy tales . His fairy tales were added to the Brothers Grimm collection (Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty, etc.).

Works (selection)

  • Own
    • Ordonnance for the five kinds of columns after the methods of the ancients ("Ordonnance des cinq espèces de columns selon la méthode des anciens"). Getty center for the history of art ans humanities, Santa Monica, Calif. 1993, ISBN 0-89236-232-4 (repr. Of the Paris 1683 edition)
  • Eds. Alfred Werner Maurer , Vanessa Alexia Maurer-Schwindt: Disput François Blondel and Claude Perrault. The dispute between François Blondel and Claude Perrault over the natural origin of architectural proportions and the crisis of architectural theory. Archive server of the DNB [1]


  • Dietrich Erben: The Vitruvic Commentary. Claude Perrault: Les dix livres d'architecture de Vitruve, 1673 . In: Dietrich Erben (ed.): The book as a draft. Text genres in the history of architectural theory. A manual , Paderborn: Fink 2019, ISBN 978-3-7705-6334-0 , pp. 158-183.
  • Wolfgang Herrmann: La théorie de Claude Perrault . Éditions Mardaga, Brussels 1980, ISBN 2-87009-122-2 .
  • Walter Kambartel: Symmetry and Beauty. About possible prerequisites of the more recent art consciousness in the architectural theory of Claude Perrault . Fink, Munich 1972 (also dissertation, University of Bochum 1969)
  • Michael Petzet : Claude Perrault and the architecture of the Sun King. The Louvre of King Louis XIV and the work of Claude Perrault . Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-422-06264-5
  • Antoine Picot: Claude Perrault, 1613-1688, ou la curiosité d'un classique . Picard, Paris 1988, ISBN 2-7084-0377-X .

Web links

Commons : Claude Perrault  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files