Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc

Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (January 27, 1814 – September 17, 1879) was a French architect and theorist, famous for his “restorations” of medieval buildings. Born in Paris, he was as central a figure in the Gothic Revival in France as he was in the public discourse on “honesty” in architecture, which eventually transcended all revival styles, to inform the emerging spirit of Modernism.

In the early 1830s, the beginnings of a movement for the restoration of medieval buildings appeared in France. Viollet-le-Duc, returning in 1835 from a study trip to Italy, was commissioned by Prosper Merimée to restore the Romanesque abbey of Vézelay. This work marked the beginning of a long series of restorations; Viollet-le-Duc’s restorations at Notre Dame de Paris brought him national attention. His other main works include Mont St-Michel, Carcassonne, Roquetaillade castle and Pierrefonds.

Viollet-le-Duc’s “restorations” frequently combined historical fact with creative modification. For example, under his supervision, Notre Dame was not only cleaned and restored but also “updated,” gaining its distinctive third tower (a type of flèche) in addition to other smaller changes. Another of his most famous restorations, the medieval fortified town of Carcassonne, was similarly enhanced.

At the same time, in the cultural atmosphere of the Second Empire theory necessarily became diluted in practice, and messages were mixed: Viollet-le-Duc provided a Gothic reliquary for the relic of the Crown of Thorns at Notre-Dame in 1862, and yet Napoleon III also commissioned designs for a luxuriously appointed railway carriage from Viollet-le-Duc, in 14th-century Gothic style (Exhibition 1965).

Among his restorations were:

Churches :
Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Vézelay
St.Martin, Clamecy (Nievre)
Notre-Dame de Paris
Sainte-Chapelle, in Paris (under Felix Duban)
Saint Denis Basilica, near Paris
Saint-Louis, in Poissy, France
Saint-Nazaire, in Carcassonne, France
Saint-Sernin, in Toulouse, France
Notre-Dame de Lausanne, Switzerland
Town Halls :

Castles :
Roquetaillade, in Bordeaux
Fortified city of Carcassonne
Château de Coucy
Antoing in Belgium
Château de Vincennes, Paris

referenced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viollet-le-Duc


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