Architectural Studies

Spheres of Influence—Boullée & the Newton Cenotaph

Étienne-Louis Boullée was an influential teacher and theoretician of Neoclassical architecture. His treatise Architecture, essai sur l’art, written in the late 18th century in the decade preceding the French Revolution, was not actually published until the middle of the 20th century. His unrealized plan for a cenotaph for Issac Newton, discussed in the treatise, has become an icon of visionary Neoclassicism.

Please read the following excerpts from his treatise (“To Men who cultivate the Arts,” “Introduction,” and “To Newton”), and then examine (below) six of his drawings of the Newton Cenotaph and try to make sense of the project.

Images of Boullée’s Newton Cenotaph from the Bibliothèque nationale de France (note that these can be viewed in higher resolution by clicking on them):




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