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Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux and the Symbolic Interpretation of Architectural Origins in 19th-Century France

Ghoche, Ralph

This essay examines the design by French architect Simon-Claude Constant-Dufeux of a tomb of the maritime explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville, erected in the cimetière du Sud in Paris (today, Montparnasse cemetery) in 1844. Its unusual parabolic profile and the vivid polychromy of its surface made it something of an archetype for architects in Paris in the 1840s, who saw it as an assault on the neoclassical ideals promoted by the French Academy.
In the world of the visual arts, music, and literature, Romanticism is among the most fundamental movements, a watershed moment in which art was rethought in light of the exigencies of the modern world. Romanticism in architecture, however, is more difficult to describe. Drawing on French Romantic philosophy, particularly the works of Pierre Leroux and Victor Cousin, and from archeologists, especially the work of Charles Lenormant, this essay interprets the tomb of Dumont d’Urville within the Romantic discourses of the early 19th century. It argues that the tomb’s Romanticism lay in its ability to enact a totalizing ideology, one which fused form and content, communication, and expression.

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Also Published In

Title
Architectural Histories
DOI
https://doi.org/10.5334/ah.241

More About This Work

Academic Units
Architecture (Barnard College)
Published Here
March 3, 2020