As part of the Louis Varcollier collection that competed in the Petit Palais project for the 1900 Universal Exhibition, this drawing on tracing paper, dedicated by the author "To my excellent friend Varcollier", was at first thought to be a project for the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Indeed Jules Deperthes, with his father Edouard, had taken part in the same competition (5th prize).
It is in fact a preparatory drawing for the competition for the 1892 Grand Prix de Rome entitled "An Artillery Museum". This competition was the highlight of the final year of study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and opened the way professionally for architects. Emile Bertone won the first prize that year, while Jules Deperthes, then a young student, was awarded the second prize.
The competition stipulated that the building must be situated on the bank of a large river, that its style should be severe in character, that it should have a monumental door and an esplanade separated from the avenues and the river bank by ditches. The façade was to include all the appropriate architectural elements to denote an important public building: high arches, corner pavilions, a central carriage porch and a supporting wall, giving the whole an imposing appearance.
Two large windows and lanterns on the metal roof bringing natural light into the building indicated its function as an exhibition space. The maritime war machines required by the programme of the competition are not visible, but the sculptures and the layout of the entrances make it possible to see how these would have been accommodated.