Ideal Cathedral of Viollet-le Duc

Ideal Cathedral of Viollet-le Duc
Ideal Cathedral of Viollet-le Duc

Eugéne Viollet-le-Duc(1814 – 1879) cannot be said to have left us amazing works of architecture, but instead he is one of the most influential architects in as many as there were during the 19th century. A character who was not only an architect, but above all developed his work as a restorer and art critic, as well as being a great theoretician. Some theories that led him to magnify themedieval architecture, especially the Gothic, which he considered the supreme style. And we must not forget that during that century there were many buildings with a neogothic air.


Ideal Cathedral according to Viollet-le-Duc

Something that, on the other hand, is also understood in the political and economic context of France at that time. Since the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, the restoration of the most distinguished buildings of French medieval heritage had been promoted, in order to increase nationalist sentiments.

And since then those restoration processes also sought to capture an idealized history, and there the theories of Viollet-le-Duc found their perfect field to develop.

Viollet-le-Duc's relationship with art ran in the family, as his father was curator of the royal residences. And he soon he was appointed collaborator ofProsper Merimée, the writer of Carmen, who was also an archaeologist and inspector of theFrench monuments that intervened in jewels such as the Roman Amphitheater of Arles.

With him he toured all of France, and that's how he began to write all his theories on the subject. Approaches that he was applying in many interventions in the French historical heritage, from Notre Dame de Paris or the Cathedral of Amiens, to the castle that surrounds the city of Carcassonne.

In all of these works he relied on a deep study ofgothic art, which he revered. He thought that it was the ideal style, and hence drawings like the one shown here or many of his writings. And the truth is that this led him to follow restoration approaches that today would not be viable because they clash radically with current criteria. And it is that Viollet-le-Duc did not hesitate to rebuild everything that he believed appropriate and for this he applied those forms and solutions that he considered ideal, although sometimes there was not full evidence that the buildings to be restored were originally like that.

On the other hand, in its time, this current was tremendously influential. His followers amassed not only in France, but throughout Europe. And even such was the admiration for these proposals of ideal forms, that there were restorations in which decorations or old elements were directly eliminated, to replace them with new ones in accordance with those aesthetic tastes. Just as it was common to intervene in the surroundings of these buildings, creating for them a kind of urban setting, sometimes majestic, that hardlywould exist in the past.

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