Translator's Notes

Philibert de l'Orme's 1567 The First Volume on Architecture, or Le premier tome de l'architecture, was the first of two intended comprehensive treatises on design and construction in the French Renaissance style. De l'Orme (c. 1510-70) served under Francis I, Henry II and, later, Charles IX. During that period, he designed the Château de Saint-Maur for Cardinal Jean du Bellay (purchased after the cardinal's death by Catherine de' Medici); and, more famously, the Château the d'Anet for Diane de Poitiers. The publication of the First Volume followed that of a shorter text (Nouvelles inventions pour bien bastir et a petits frais), which described a novel method for constructing large roof structures requiring relatively little timber. The First Volume itself contained a strikingly inventive use of the architectural orders, part of a larger French effort to forge a cultural tradition independent from Italy; as well as a discussion of geometric and stereotomic drawing, which cast light on an art previously shrouded under the secrecy of private guilds.
 
While de l'Orme's own work was supported by lavish patronage, this (ongoing) translation of his treatise has been indebted to free online resources. The translation is based on a modernized transcription by Pauline Chambrier, found within a database of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French architectural texts (Les Livres d'Architecture) jointly sponsored by l'Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art and the Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, France. The translation includes in bold the folio numbers [e.g. [f. A2] & [f. A2V °]) of the original edition within this database. For definitions of archaic or obsolete terms, I have relied heavily on a copy of Randle Cotgrave's 1611 A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, originally located in the French National Library. This has been scanned and electronically compiled by Greg Lindahl. As a beneficiary of such resources, I intend this online translation to be a contribution to the creation of open knowledge.
 
Finally, as someone constantly seeking to improve his grasp of the French language, I would be grateful for criticisms of and contributions to this translation. Please send these to: plau07 [at] hotmail [dot] com