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LE CAMUS, Nicolas de Mézières (1721--1789)
Recueil des différens plans et dessins. Concernant la nouvelle Halle aux Grains, située au lieu et place de l'ancien Hôtel de Soissons. Par N. Le Camus de Mézieres, architecte du Roi. Et de son université, expert des bâtimens.
A Paris 1769.
Engr. t.-pl., engr. port., [MS. dedic.], [23] pl. (4 double-p.) ; 63.5 cm. (2°)

Le Camus's innovative Halle au Blé with its vast circular courtyard surrounded by a double gallery featuring spectacular intertwined double flights of oval stairs, was erected between 1763 and 1767; a timber and glass dome was added to cover the central court around 1782, and after a fire in 1802 this was replaced by a cast-iron dome, 1808--1813. For a full account see Mark Deming, La Halle au Blé de Paris, 1762--1813 (Brussels 1984). Soane greatly admired the building which he made a point of visiting on his Parisian tour of 1819. The influence of Le Camus's ideas as expressed in his Le génie de l'architecture, 1780 (q.v.), particularly his emphasis on the handling of light is discussed by David Watkin, Sir John Soane: Enlightenment thought and the Royal Academy Lectures (Cambridge 1996), pp. 210--219 (see particularly pp. 214--216). The present work attempting to record the design was never formally published and copies exist in a variety of forms probably issued at different times after 1769, with varying numbers of plates in different states of completion, bound in irregular order. The ideal complete copy is described by Robin Middleton in his 'List of Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières's Publications' appended to David Britt's translation, The genius of architecture; or, the analogie of that art with our sensations (Santa Monica: Getty Center, 1992), pp. 215--220; the plate numbers referred to here are those that would appear in this ideal copy. The copies at the Soane and the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris are the most complete. The MS. dedication exists only in the Soane and Avery copies. The Soane copy has a signed and unsigned pl. [16], 'Coupe de l'Escalier vers Rue de Grenelle sur la ligne A. B.'; the unsigned version is bound upside-down between plates [22] and [23]. Plates [4], [5], and [21] are in unlettered states and pl. [22] is signed but uncaptioned. The binding order in the Soane copy is as follows: [2], [1], [3], [6], [4], [5], [7]--[20], [22], [21], [16, unlettered state], [23]. See also BAL, Early printed books, no. 1799 (where the list of plates is given but with pl. [16] to [19] of the ideal copy in the order [19], [16], [17], [18]).

Copy Notes Inscribed in pencil on front paste-down 2.2.0 and with a bookseller's code on the rear pastedown. Bought from Josiah Taylor for £2 on 27 August 1805. (Spiers Box).

Binding C18th half 'catspaw' mottled sheep, brown Kleisterpapier boards, red morocco spine-label.

Reference Number 5564


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