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Architecture at Edward Worth Library

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Edward Worth collected works by two renowned architects: an incunable of the celebrated text De Architectura Libri Decem (Venice, 1497) by the ancient Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius (c.80-70BC-c.15BC), and an early eighteenth-century collection of the designs of the seventeenth-century English architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652).


Jean-François Félibien, Recueil historique de la vie et des ouvrages des plus celebres architectes (Paris, 1696), title page.

As this work demonstrates, these were not the only architects in whom Worth had an interest. Jean-François Félibien (1658-1733) was a French historian who died in the same year as Worth, 1733. He was the son of André Félibien, Sieur des Avaux et de Jàversy (1619-1695), whose Des principes de l’architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, et des autres arts qui en dependent. Avec un dictionnaire des termes propres à chacun de ces arts (Paris, 1690) is discussed in the section on Classical Orders and Domestic Architecture of this online exhibition.

Jean-François Félibien’s Recueil historique de la vie et des ouvrages des plus celebres architectes (Paris, 1696) was an attempt to chart the history of architecture up to the fifteenth century – and in this sense Félibien was using text to do what another author collected by Worth would attempt to do using images : Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach’s Entwurff Einer Historischen Architectur: in Abbildung unterschiedener berühmten Gebäude des Alterthums und fremder Völcker; umb aus den Geschicht-büchern, Gedächtnüß-münzen, Ruinen, und eingeholten wahrhafften Abrißen, vor Augen zu stellen (Leipzig, 1725), is examined in the Places section of this exhibition. Like Fischer von Erlach, Jean-François Félibien did not limit himself to western European architecture, but was keen to include Middle Eastern examples. Unlike Fischer von Erlach, he included a discussion of medieval architecture (though it seems probable that Fischer von Erlach had initially envisaged including a section on Gothic architecture, but it was not included in the final massive publication). As Savage et al. (1995) relate, Félibien’s Recueil historique proved very popular and was reprinted a number of times following the first edition of 1687 : at Paris in 1690, 1696 and 1697 and at Trévoux in 1725; at London in 1704 and 1707; and at Amsterdam in 1705 and 1706. It was translated into German in a 1711 Hamburg edition and into Italian in a Venetian edition of 1747.

The works of many other early modern architects are examined in this online exhibition: Michelangelo’s plans for the Basilica of St. Peter’s at the Vatican may be found alongside the beautiful Baroque church of San Andrea al Quirinale, built by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). Fischer von Erlach’s early eighteenth-century designs for Viennese Palaces may be compared with the classicism inherent in the mid seventeenth-century plans for the Palace of Whitehall, while Heinrich Ruse’s instructions for military fortifications and André Félibien’s Des principes de l’architecture focuses on both the principles and practicalities of building.


Skliar-Piguet, Alexandra, ‘André Félibien, Sieur des Avaux et de Jàversy (1619-1695)’ in Oxford Art Online – this includes a short biography of his son Jean-François Félibien.

‘Jean-François Félibien’ entry in Dora Wiebenson and Claire Baines (eds.) The Mark J. Millard Architectural Collection. Volume I : French Books, Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries (Washington, 1993).

Savage, Nicholas et al., British Architectural Library. Royal Institute of British Architects. Early Printed Books 1478-1840 : Catalogue of the British Architectural Library Early Imprints Collection. Volume 2, E-L (London, 1995).

Text: Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library.