LEFUEL, Hector-Martin & DENUELLE, Alexandre Dominique

Set of drawings of Roman and Florentine architecture

c.1841 – 1843
Size : 68,5 x 50,5 cm (support sheet)

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Recipient of the Prix de Rome and the rank of Commander of the Legion of Honour, Hector Lefuel is best known for having been, following the death of Louis Visconti, the chief architect of the new Louvre from 1854. This project, which was intended to complete the old buildings and link them together, is without doubt, along with the Garnier Opera, one of the most famous constructions of the Second Empire. This previously unpublished collection documents the genesis of a major architect in the history of the 19th century and attests to his proximity to Alexandre Dominique Denuelle. Dating from the time of his boarding school at the Villa Médicis, this collection contains several preparatory sheets for his consignment concerning the three temples of San Nicola in Carcere, a building for which Lefuel proposed a restoration project. The young architect, who had a good sense of observation and a sharp pencil stroke, took advantage of his long stay in Italy to make numerous surveys and drawings from models. He thus represented the Roman forum, and more particularly the Arch of Septimius Severus, in a number of his compositions, as well as the Hadrian's villa and the villa Madame. In addition to some leaves drawn in Rome in 1841, this collection also includes others drawn in Florence in 1843.

During this period, Hector Lefuel went to the city of the Lily to help his friend, the artist Ernest Hébert. Henri Laborde reports in particular that the architect "deprived of everything that could help him carry out his work, deprived of his books and his portfolios, (...) executed on the corner of a building a series of works of art that he had never seen before. ) executed on the corner of a table the vast drawings that he was to submit to the judgement of the Academy, and in which - in the words of the report made on this occasion - "the Academy found the qualities that it had recognised in all the submissions of the same pensioner" (Henri Delaborde, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Lefuel, Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1882, p. 10.) Faithful in his friendships, Hector Lefuel established numerous relationships of trust, as evidenced by the presence of a leaf by Alexandre Dominique Denuelle. Long before their collaboration on the Louvre, it seems that the two men had known each other in Italy. This unpublished sheet by the painter and decorator is based on the ceiling of the Villa Farnesina in Rome. In this composition, the artist shows his talent as a copyist and colourist. Alexandre Denuelle had a brilliant career which led him to collaborate with many brilliant architects, besides Lefuel, including Viollet-le-duc and Charles-Auguste Questel.

This previously unpublished collection is a precious testimony to the early years of two promising boarders at the Villa Medici. For Hector Lefuel and Alexandre Denuelle, this transalpine stay was rich in lessons, and it contributed fully to the lasting nourishment of their works, which were marked by the eclecticism and historicism of 19th century art.

Bibliography :

Henri Delaborde, Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. Lefuel, Paris, Firmin-Didot, 1882, 23 p.

Pierre Pinon and François-Xavier Amprimoz, Les Envois de Rome: 1778-1968: architecture et archéologie,

Rome, Ecole française de Rome, 1988, 455 p.

Yve-AlainBois, "LEFUELHECTOR-(1810-1881)",in Encyclopædia Universalis [online], accessed 10 December 2021. URL : http://www.universalis-edu.com/encyclopedie/hector- lefuel/

LEFUEL, Hector-Martin & DENUELLE, Alexandre Dominique