This luxurious volume gathers together all of Percier and Fontaine’s designs that were published between the years 1798 and 1812, while he was in the service of Napoleon, during the Consulate and Empire. The influence of the design-duo, who were responsible for many of Napoleon’s palaces and public monuments as well as for the decorations and costumes for the “Sacre” in 1804 [Napoleon’s consecration ceremony as Emperor], went far beyond the French Empire, explains Professor Barry Bergdoll (of Columbia University) in his introduction to the collection. Since the originals were in black and white, “people didn’t know Percier and Fontaine’s color schemes, so they invented them, creating free interpretations from their line drawings. If you were person of great means, you could buy a deluxe edition that was hand-colored by a woman who worked in their office.” Indeed, the illustrations to the book (expertly scanned from the original prints) include a platinum-inlaid room for Carlos IV of Spain, a chimneypiece for a Polish prince, as well as designs for eminent clients in Madrid, Saint Petersburg, and Amsterdam. It is even said that when James Monroe became president of the United States in 1817, he had the Blue Room at the White House refurbished in “Empire style” having himself seen Percier and Fontaine’s designs first-hand at Napoleon’s coronation and consecration at Notre-Dame. (Rebecca Young, March 2019).
“Known as “Napoleon’s architects,” Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre Fontaine (1762-1853) were not only the Emperor’s official government architects, but two of the most celebrated teachers at the legendary Ecole des Beaux-Arts, responsible for developing the highly influential neoclassical Empire, or Directoire, style of design. In addition to their renovations to the Louvre and the Tuileries, and construction of the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel, they are best known for Empress Josephine’s house at Malmaison, where they effectively invented the profession of interior design by crafting every detail including all the furnishings. This book collects the entire printed output of these two important architects and archeologists of Roman architecture, four volumes condensed into one, and serves as the definitive edition on their work. The Collected Works of Percier and Fontaine is introduced by critic and historian Barry Bergdoll, and published in association with the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.”
Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. He served as Philip Johnson Chief Curator at the Museum of Modern Art from 2007 to 2013. He has published widely on modern architectural history, and art history.
Read a review in the Architectural Digest.