Musée d'Orsay: Architecture and Graphic Arts

Architecture and Graphic Arts

Suburban villas

Rooms 17 and 21 untill late January 2019

Marcel GuilleminaultA house in the countryside, plan and elevation© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Franck Raux © Droits réservés
Villas, which were originally rural sites, are associated with a lifestyle promoting space, views over nature, and facilities for entertaining.
In the 19th century, notably in Paris, the expansion of factories and the railways, and increased population density, prompted a desire for open spaces. The phenomenon of the proliferation of detached dwellings can also be explained by the gradual disappearance of large properties, which created new building plots.

Architects’ remits included designing family homes, ranging from small units for workers to dwellings for the upper middle classes, not forgetting employees and those in trade. Viollet-le-Duc expounded his theories on this subject in his treatise The Story of a House, published in 1873.
Villas also conjure up holiday locations such as the coast, riverside locations, and forests.

The desire for proximity to town was so strong that architects reapplied regional stylistic conventions to buildings in the immediate suburbs. This gave rise to the suburban villa, dubbed “Villa des champs” by Viollet-le-Duc.

Jules RischmannProject for a villa on the banks of the Seine© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
Although the villa became the embodiment of diverse sections of the population’s desire for green space, it also positioned itself among the affluent classes as a middle ground between a townhouse and a country residence.
References to chateaux are an enduring feature, expressed in towers or turrets, which gradually metamorphosed into the belvederes of modernist villas.

The relationship with the garden was also significant. This led to the rise of glazed galleries and glass canopies, which were an explicit allusion to winter gardens and greenhouses in parks.
Some of these many and varied stylistic features can be traced back to the influence of the English cottage, which served as a historic model.

Later, in the interwar period, large villas were constructed in the vicinity of fashionable attractions such as golf courses, or artistic locations associated with a studio or exhibition venue.
By extrapolating the concept of the detached dwelling into a natural environment, villas also become the signifier for a form personal escape within one’s own life, as was epitomised by François Garas and his “little house”.

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When architecture meets archaeology – ancient theatres from Pompeii to Timgad

End of the nave untill 22 January 2019

Ancient theatres held pride of place on the trip to Italy, with their combination of lavish decoration, architectonic structure, and their unique relationship with the urbs.
Archaeology classes were introduced at the Villa Médicis in 1836, thus demonstrating the high regard in which this discipline was held for training architects at the Académie.

Victor Baltard was among the first to benefit from teaching delivered by Antonio Nibby, who notably led the excavations at the Colosseum.
His architectural drawings, the photographs taken by Alfred-Nicolas Normand, and the drawings of Louis Boitte, who was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1846 and 1859, provide an insight into issues around training and the imitation of the remains of these monumental edifices.

However, a growing suspicion of archaeology, which was thought to teach nothing more than servile imitation of Antiquity, radically changed its relationship with the exercise of restoration.
Although executed in a different context, the majestic sequence featuring the theatre of Timgad, the ancient city of Thamugadi, sketched by Albert Ballu in 1900, contradicts the idea that reconstructions could no longer satisfy artist’s expectations in terms of exerting fascination and stimulating the mind.

Albert BalluRestitution of the forum of the ancient city of Timgad, longitudinal section with the theater© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda

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