Musée d'Orsay: Architects' careers in the nineteenth century

Architects' careers in the nineteenth century

Eugène TrainPerspective view of Chaptal Junior High School in Paris© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda
The modern conception of the architect's work dates back from the Renaissance.

As Alberti's Treatise of Architecture stated it, the architect is both a scientist and a humanist: an enlightened, universal man, nearly an artist.

The social, political and economical upheavals of ninetenth-century industrial society deeply changed the status of architects. Torn between the development of sciences and techniques and urban development, confronted to the fierce competition of engineers, the architects of the later half of the 19th century found it hard to define their work. Torn between sciences and art, could they maintain their artistic credentials? Were they creators mastering the art of composition or businessmen dealing with capitals and materials?

The nineteenth century saw an evolution of the status of architects, but also the golden age of this trade. "Industrial art" made it possible for architects to take part in the building of schools, high schools and housing estates; they were crucial actors of the urban development of French cities.


Annie Jacques, curator of the library and collections , Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts

9 December 1986 - 1 March 1987
Musée d'Orsay

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