2005 Clarence Ward Exhibition and Birthday Party

"Books for the Grand Tour: Architecture, Archaeology and the Dilettante."

Antoine Babuty Desgodets

Les édifices des Rome, dessinés et measures tres exactement, 1687

Antoine Babuty Desgodets' Edifices antiques de Rome would become a landmark and eventually a model for the accurate documentation of classical ruins. Later authors such as James Stuart and Nicholas Revett would openly acknowledge the debt owed to Desgodets' standards and meticulous precision. Desgodets journeyed to Rome in September 1674 on a special mission from the Académie Royale d'Architecture, remaining for sixteen months. He submitted his drawings of Roman architectural ruins to the Academy for their investigation, which were eventually engraved and published in 1682. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, founder of the Académie d'Architecture, supplied a subsidy of 2,000 livres.

The descriptions and measurements of canonical authors such as Palladio and Serlio were shown to be frequently inaccurate in the face of Desgodets' methodical examination. His empirical approach is an important step towards an objective and scientific archaeology. He was made Professor of Architecture in the Academy in 1719, the only such position, holding it until his death in 1728. His lectures and unpublished notes for future theoretical texts were influential among contemporary students and future authors. As a practicing architect, he cannot be linked to any completed buildings, though he was part of proposals that included the Louvre and Tuileries.