religious architecture. In 1726, Juste-Aurele Meissonnier proposed a facade for Saint-Sulpice (originally designed by Christophe Gamard in 1643) that was marked by Borromini's influence. But the plan was rejected. In 1732, the competition for this final portion of the church was won by Jean-Nicolas Servandoni, a decision that marked the triumph of columns and horizontal entablatures. Despite the Borrominian curves employed in the upper parts of the towers, Jean-Francois Chalgrin's intervention into the construction of the upper balustrade after 1770 consolidated the dominance of the straight line. This tendency was confirmed in the meantime with Soufflot's 1764 project for Sainte-Genevieve (soon renamed as the Pantheon). Here the architect's aim was to reconcile the Greek order, exemplified in France by Perrault's colonnade, with the science and lightness of Gothic construction that he so admired. A highly intellectualized design resulted, presenting no seductive artifice but consisting of a wholly calculated layout of straight lines and curves, parallelepipeds, and spheres. The plan was distinguished by an almost perfect symmetry and gridded organization.
The pronounced tendency towards abstraction was reaffirmed in another contemporary project. In the same year, 1764, Jean-Francois Chalgrin was charged with the construction of Saint-Philippe du Roule. Employing an exterior Tuscan porch, Ionic colonnades in both the aisle and the semi-circular choir, and a coffered vault, Chalgrin readapted the form of the ancient basilica, which quickly became the model for many subsequent decades of religious architecture. Similar layouts may be seen in the Saint-Symphorien de Montreuil, built by Louis-Francois Trouard in Versailles (1764-70); and in the Saint-Louis in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, begun by Nicolas Potain, once again in 1764. Potain used the same style in Rennes Cathedral, for which the plan was approved in 1764, although the construction began only in 1786. After the Revolution, virtually all French churches would conform to the style derived from Saint-Philippe de Roule, adapted to the basilica plan and with the addition of an entrance porch. (The sole exception was the Madeleine, whose design was carefully chosen by Napoleon I, more as a temple dedicated to the Glory of France than as a church for Catholic worship.) In Paris, this basic design could be seen in churches by Hippolyte Godde (Saint-Pierre du Gros Caillou, Saint-Denis du Saint-Sacrement), by Molinos (Sainte-Marie des Batignoles), and by Hippolyte Lebas (Notre-Dame de Lorette). The style was retained until the 1840s when the neo-Gothic arrived to challenge aggressively the pre-eminence ofneo-classicism (in Paris, Gau's Sainte-Clotilde; in Nantes, Jean-Baptiste Lassus's Saint-Nicolas).
Was this article helpful?