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Architectural Books

The architectural holdings of the Library are rich and varied. Modern materials, of course, are to be found in the Urban and Environmental Studies Library in the Architecture Building here on campus. Historical items are found among the many books of Marquand and Firestone Libraries as well as among the manuscript holdings of Archives and the Manuscripts Division.

  • There is a large collection of early printed architectural books in the Marquand Art Library's Rare Books department. Starting with early editions of Vitruvius, Grapaldi, and Alberti, the collection includes nearly 400 volumes published between 1485 and 1825 mainly in Italy, France, and England. There are also a few books on architecture printed in Spain, Germany, and the Low Countries. Essentially, the collection is a strong gathering of the fundamental books needed to form a basic library of historical architectural books of Western Europe. Some of the authors encountered, in addition to those mentioned above, include: Blondel, Delorme, Furtenbach, Halfpenny, Langley, Pain (William), Palladio (Andrea) (about 10 editions), Scamozzi, Serlio, and Vignola. Special clusters of choice books not to be overlooked in the collection are the 18th century English architectural books as well as the late 18th and early 19th century English architectural books on villas, rustic, and country houses.

    In Winter 1985, an exhibition of books, prints, manuscripts and drawings was held in the Gould Exhibition Gallery at Firestone Library. With only one or two exceptions, the printed books came from the Rare Book Collection at Marquand Art Library in McCormick Hall. The drawings were chiefly from the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

    The books illustrated the so-called classical tradition in architecture, a system based on the high-style building forms of ancient Greece and Rome. In those countries which adopted classical forms, such as England, France, Spain, Germany, and the Low Countries, this system stands in direct contrast to the vernacular tradition. Books published in these countries during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries detail the classical tradition, aided the process of educating men in its theories, and thereby spread the rejection of vernacular traditions.

    The exhibition began with editions of Vitruvius, the first century Roman architect whose work is the only such kind to come down to us today. He inspired many great architects of the Renaissance, including Alberti, Bramante, Palladio, and Michelangelo. During the Renaissance, his writings were issued in lavishly illustrated editions and shown were that of Venice, 1511 (also the first illustrated architectural book to be published in Europe) and Como, 1511 (also showing cuts of the Milan cathedral, the earliest illustrations of Gothic architecture published in Europe) as well as several early translations. Following Vitruvius came editions of works by Grapaldi, Vignola, Alberti, Serlio, and Palladio, all illustrating the spread and development of the theories of classical architecture in sixteenth century Italy.

    Following the section on these Italian masters came a series of displays covering the theorists of the classical tradition in seventeenth century France and eighteenth century England. In the French section were shown the large and grandly illustrated editions of Philibert de l'Orme, Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, François Blondel, and Roland Fréart, Sieur de Chambray. For England, on display were books with designs by Colen Campbell, Inigo Jones, Isaac Ware, and William Kent. Also shown were numerous handbooks by Batty Langley, the form of which was the progenitor of early American architectural books.

    Most of the drawings were first gathered as part of the Archives of American Architecture, a collecting program of the Library directed by head librarian Julian Boyd during the 1940's. Many are in the Beaux Arts tradition and include works by Pennington Satterthwaite (Class of 1893) and designs by Robert W. Gibson (1854-1927) for the 1903 New York Stock Exchange competition. Also shown were plates from Frank Lloyd Wright's "Wasmuth Portfolio" (from a copy given by Mr. Wright to the Library) as well as correspondence and notes relating to Mr. Wright given to the Library by Arthur C. Holden, Class of 1912, and William H. Short, Class of 1946.

    For particulars regarding the exhibition see: Stephen Ferguson, comp. Architecture 1450-1950. [Catalogue of the exhibition held in the Princeton University Library, 17 January -7 April 1985.] Princeton, 1985 [(ExB) 0639.739 no. 47]. [full text]. Also see: Constance Greiff, Princeton Architecture. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967) [(ExB) NA735.P7 G7]. Some items illustrated and some materials on which this book is based are found in the Princeton University Library and Archives.

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