Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Les proportions du corps humain, measurées sur les plus belles figures de l'antiquité

Claude Perrault's early career was as a surgeon and anatomist. He was commissioned to prepare a translation of the ten books of Vitruvius into French by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis the Fourteenth's Minister of Finance, and the man in charge or rebuilding the Louvre. It happened that Claude Perrault's brother Charles was Colbert's Secretary. Claude Perrault was also on the three man committee to design the eastern part of the Louvre. The images here are from the Vitruvius translation.

Extensive information in the book Architectural Theory
By Harry Francis Mallgrave at Google Books, and at Architectural Theory: An Anthology from 1871 to 2005

Les proportions du corps humain, Architecture ou art de bien bastir de Marc Vitruve Pollion,
Jean Martin 1547


Premier livre d'Architecture de

Planche VII du " Vitruve de Perrault ", 1673, détail

Planche VII du " Vitruve de Perrault ", 1673, détail

Les dix livres d'architecture

Ten Books on Architecture

The next series of images is from Gerard Audran's book on human proportions, which used antique statuary as models from which to illustrate rules of proportion of the human form

From Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge:
"Gerard Audran was unquestionably one of the greatest historical engravers that has ever existed. By some judges, and those not inadequate ones, the very first place has been assigned to him. His reputation perhaps rests chiefly on the celebrated series of plates after Le Brun's Battles of Alexander, respecting which the painter himself confessed that his expectations had been surpassed. It is indeed impossible to contemplate without the highest admiration the skill, intelligence, and extraordinary facility exhibited by his burin throughout those immense and intricate compositions. Although completely a master of the mechanical execution of his art, he attached little importance to that clear and methodical arrangement of lines which forms the chief point of ambition with many other engravers. His style is composed of a bold mixture of free hatchings and dots, placed together apparently without order, but rendering, with admirable effect, not merely the contours, but the mind and feeling of the painter; and his style is so entirely free from manner, that on looking at his prints we lose sight of the engraver, and are reminded only of the master whom he is transcribing. "

Les proportions du corps humain, measurées sur les plus belles figures de l'antiquité - Gérard Audran.

Wikipedia Article: Gerard Audran

Gerard Audran on Ebay

You can search for a copy at Use the search terms "
Gerard Audran

You might also be interested in a more complete book about human proportions from the 1800s The Sculptor and Art Student's Guide to the Proportions of the Human Form.

The Art Student's Guide to the Proportions of the Human Form at

Art in Theory 1648-1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas

Dictionnaire des artistes de l'école française, au XIXe siècle: Peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure, dessin, lithographie et composition musicale (French Edition)

Études sur les beaux-arts en France et en Italie: Tome 2. France (French Edition)

Annales du Musée et de l\'École Moderne des Beaux-Arts ou Recueil complet de gravures: École Française ancienne. Tome 1-2 (French Edition)

Lectures on the True, the Beautiful, and the Good

Dessins de sculpteurs : Tome 1, Troisièmes Rencontres Internationales du Salon du Dessin

Images from the book Vitruve, Architecture ou, Art de bien bastir, [traduction de J. Martin], Paris: Hierosme de Marnef & Guillaume Cavellat, 1572 [reprint, Paris, 1547]. More at the Standford University Website: Proportions parfaites du corps.

Architecture ou Art de bien bastir, de Marc Vitruve Pollion Autheur Romain Antique: Mis de Latin en Francoys, par Ian Martin Secretaire de Monseigneur le Cardinal de Lenoncourt. Collectible at

Pour mieux lire Vitruve: Les Dix livres d'architecture (Les supplements) (French Edition)

Vitruvius on Architecture

Gerard Audran's The Proportions of the Human BodyGerard Audran's The Proportions of the Human Body

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