Henri Labrouste (1801–1875)


Born in Paris, Labrouste was one of the most important architects during the Second Empire, heralding a new era of modernism with his use of functional building materials, most importantly, iron in his frames. He was also a draughtsman and watercolourist. He began drawing at the age of thirteen, and in 1819 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, studying under Antoine Vaudoyer and Hippolyte Lebas. In 1824, he won the Prix de Rome for architecture for his Cour de Cassation project. Between 1824 and 1830 he was in Italy for his 'Grand Tour,' residing at the Villa Medici in Rome, making trips to many cities such as Rome, Turin, Modena, Parma, and Bologna. From Rome, he sent architectural surveys to the Académie des Beaux-Arts each year. However, his studies were not limited to Roman architecture. His work in Italy testifies to his extensive interest in the regions he visited there, and he completed numerous drawings of buildings, monuments, ornamentation, and costumes from life. On his return to France in 1830 he opened a distinguished studio in Paris. Two of his most notable architectural works are the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (1843–50), and the reading room (1860–67) of the Bibliothèque Nationale. Labrouste was an architect who combined rationalism with classical ideas. His work often generated controversy and critical debate, particularly with the restoration project he presented on the Paestum temples, and his philosophy concerning Greek architecture and its application to modern construction. He died at Fontainebleau. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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