Charles-Louis Clérisseau and the Genesis of Neoclassicism

From Architectural History Foundation Books

Charles-Louis Clérisseau and the Genesis of Neoclassicism

By Thomas McCormick

Thomas McCormick's book is the first comprehensive and balanced study of Clérisseau.





Thomas McCormick's book is the first comprehensive and balanced study of Clérisseau.

Charles-Louis Clérisseau (1721-1820), the French architect, archaeologist, and artist, occupies a unique position in the genesis and wide-ranging adoption of neoclassical architecture during the second half of the eighteenth century. His skillful drawings in particular of ancient decorative details, of real and imaginary ruins, and of ancient-style buildings - helped create a style that was to influence such notable figures as Catherine the Great and Thomas Jefferson. Clérisseau's vision of antiquity as the basis for a new architecture is eloquently expressed in the 169 drawings reproduced here.Thomas McCormick's book is the first comprehensive and balanced study of Clérisseau. It carefully charts his role in the creation of neoclassicism in Italy and its diffusion to France, Germany, England, Russia, and the United States. McCormick describes the influence on his work and development of Clérisseau's relationships to the architects Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Johann Joachim Winckelmann and to his students William Chambers and Robert Adam, among others. It was during his stay in Italy with Adam that Clérisseau made many of the unusually beautiful and sensitive drawings of antique forms that are among the more than 100 now in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad. McCormick also clarifies Clérisseau's muchdebated role in the design of the state capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

An Architectural History Foundation Book.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262132626 300 pp. | 8.1 in x 10.1 in


  • Good monographs on the great French painters and architects of the 18th century are rare. This work by Thomas McCormick is all the more so in that it goes beyond merely outlining the principal stages of the architect and artist's careers. It examines the influence of the 'father of neoclassicism' in England and in Italy, in the realm of Catherine the Great as well as in that of Jefferon. The key to an epoch and a style, Clerisseau is finally and brilliantly restored to his place.

    Pierre Rosenberg

    Conservateur en Chef du Departement des Peintures, Louvre Museum

  • A thorough and detailed account of the French architect, designer, and delineator of ruins who was one of the important figures in the development of Neo-classicism, this volume clearly establishes not only Clerisseau's own contributions but his influence on such individuals as Robert Adam, Thomas Jefferson, Cherles Cameron, and Catherine the Great. By skillfully assessing his role first in rome during the initial flowering of Neo-classicism and then, not only in France and England but, through his inspiration, from Russia to Virginia, Professor McCormick has helped illuminate an important era in architectural history.

    Damie Stillman

    John W. Shirley Professor of Art History, University of Delaware