Claude Perrault

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Claude Perrault
Claude Perrault.png
Claude Perrault
Born 25 September 1613
Died 1688
Nationality French
Occupation Architect
Buildings Perrault's Colonnade, Palais du Louvre, Paris

Claude Perrault (25 September 1613 – 9 October 1688) is best known as the architect of the east wing of the Louvre Palace in Paris (see Perrault's Colonnade). He also achieved success as a physician and anatomist, and as an author, who wrote treatises on physics and natural history.[1]


Perrault was born and died in Paris. Aside from his influential architecture, he became well known for his translation of the ten books of Vitruvius, the only surviving Roman work on architecture, into French, written at the instigation of Colbert, and published, with Perrault's annotations, in 1673. His treatise on the five classical orders of architecture followed in 1683. As physician and natural philosopher with a medical degree from the University of Paris, Perrault became one of the first members of the French Academy of Sciences when it was founded in 1666.

In the competition for the construction of a new wing for the Louvre he triumphed over all rivals, even Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who had traveled from Italy expressly for the purpose. This work claimed his attention from 1665 to 1680, and established his reputation. Perrault's Colonnade overlooking the Quai du Louvre became widely celebrated. The simple character of the ground floor basement sets off the paired Corinthian columns, modeled strictly according to Vitruvius, against a shadowed void, with pavilions at the ends. Little that could be called Baroque can be identified in its cool classicism that looks back to the 16th century. The façade, divided in five parts, is a typical solution of the French classicism.

Perrault also built an Observatory, the church of St-Benoît-le-Bétourné, designed a new church of Ste-Geneviève, and erected an altar in the Church of the Little Fathers, all in Paris. Perrault's design for a triumphal arch on Rue St-Antoine was preferred to competing designs of Charles Le Brun and Louis Le Vau, but was only partly executed in stone. When the arch was taken down in the 19th century, it was found that the ingenious master had devised a means of so interlocking the stones, without mortar, that it had become an inseparable mass.

In addition, he made a valuable contribution in acoustics. His treatise on sound was a part of the book Oeuvres diverses de Physique et de Mecanique. In his later book, he treats such subjects as sound media, sources of sound and sound receivers. In musical acoustics, he noted the importance of vibration on consonance and dissonance. His study "De la Musique des Anciens" in the Oeuvres diverses discussed how combinations of notes yields harmony. It also contains critical examinations of old manuscripts on European music.

His brother, Charles Perrault, is remembered as the classic reteller of the old story of Cinderella among other fables.


  • Du bruit ; et De la musique des anciens : extrait des Oevres diverses de physique et de mécanique (tome 2) ; et Préface manuscrite du Traité de la musique de Claude Perrault (Bibl. Nat. manuscr. fr. 25,350) by Claude Perrault; François Lesure; Bibliothèque nationale (France)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hazard J (2007). "[Claude Perrault, famous architect, unknown physician, untiring researcher]". Hist Sci Med (in French) 41 (4): 399–406. PMID 18450300. 


  • Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire N=naturelle des animaux (Memoirs for a natural history of animals: containing the anatomical descriptions of several creatures dissected by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris).
  • Introduction by Alberto Pérez-Gómez to Indra Kagis McEwen's translation of Perrault’s Ordonnance for the five kinds of columns after the method of the Ancients. Santa Monica, CA : Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1993.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Claude Perrault". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

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