Alfred-Nicolas Normand (1822-1909) Ou les leçons de Rome

by Laure Ducos

Doctoral thesis in Histoire de l'Art. Architecture contemporaine

Under the supervision of Jean-Baptiste Minnaert.

defended on 13-01-2014

in Tours , under the authority of École doctorale Sciences de l'homme et de la société (Tours ; 1996-2018) , in a partnership with Interactions, transferts, ruptures artistiques et culturels (Tours) (équipe de recherche) .

Thesis committee President: Manuel Royo.

Thesis committee members: Gilles Bienvenu, Alice Thomine, Dominique Jarrasse, Laurent Baridon.

  • Alternative Title

    Alfred-Nicolas Normand (1822-1909) or the lessons of Rome

  • Abstract

    The architect Alfred-Nicolas Normand is forgotten by the history. After four year at the Beaux-Arts, he obtains the Grand Prix de Rome in 1846. He is student at the villa Medici for the five next years. He makes five Envois in high quality. One of them is the house of the Faun in Pompeii. He realizes a great Restoration of the Roman Forum. His works proposes a synthesis of art, erudition and archaeology. During his pension he is travelling acrosss Italy and is given a recent authorization to reach Greece. the boarding school is opportunity for Normand to find out and to experience all the forms of his art which are well abovethe competences taught by the Institute. He will feed upon all these influences his architectural skills. In 1851, he discovers the calotype process, and after that he is taking photographs of the monuments in their context. The observer would remark a relative ressemblance between his practice as drawer and as a photographer. As he wants the process to be clearly documentary, the shooting process is drastically influenced by the drawing codes and method standards. Back in France he realizes a antique style Villa for the Prince Jérôme Napoléon. Normand finds here the opportunity to apply the lessons learned from Roma : monumentality and sense of decor. He does a good mix between archaeology, canonical models and modern lifestyle. A few years after, he is been given the maintenance of the Colonne Vendôme. As this monument has been thrown down during the Commune events, the State puts him in charge of its restoration in order to erase this painful episode from the popular memory. Throughout his career he will be required to build private prestigious residences (castles and private mansions) for which he will request a varied vocabulary : medieval, neo-Renaissance or XVIIIth century. He also achivied numbers of tombs and honorific monuments. Thereafter he turns to work on the penal institution architecture. He is appointed to be responsible for the conception of the Maison Centrale of Rennes, a prison for a thousand women serving a long sentence. He turns the panoptical system into a wide central courtyard to which converge all the windows of the prison building. Alfred Normand, as recognized as he could be in his time, is one of the history's forgotten people. He is a good representative of these generations : brilliant, but whitout relief, that could fit perfectly the institutional needs. He personifies the inertia of a professional corps facing the modern societies' individualistic conception

  • Abstract

    L'architecte Alfred-Nicolas Normand est un oublié de l'histoire. Après quatre années d'études aux Beaux-Arts, il obtient le Grand Prix de Rome en 1846. Pensionnaire à la Villa Médicis durant les cinq années suivantes, il se confronte aux canons de l'Antiquité. Il réalise cinq Envois d'une grande qualité, parmi lesquels une étude de la maison du faune à Pompéi, et la restauration du Forum romain en un travail mêlant art, érudition et archéologie. Il sillonne l'Italie et la Grèce, constituant un portefeuille de modèles qui nourrira sa pratique architecturale. S'y ajoute un beau corpus de calotypes influencé par les modalités du dessin. De retour en France, Normand réalise un hötel pompéien pour le prince Jérôme Napoléon. Il y voit l'occasion d'appliquer les leçons reçues de Rome, élaborant une juste synthèse entre archéologie, modèles canoniques et vie moderne. Puis il se verra confié la réedification de la Colonne Vendôme, effaçant ainsi le traumatisme mal assumé de la Commune. Sa carrière se diversifie, entre architecture privée et construction édilitaire : chäteaux, hötels particulier, halle métallique, maison centrale de Rennes. Il représente ces générations brillantes mais sans relief qui répondent aux exigences institutionnellles; Alfred Normand, en tant que banal modèle de l'excellence, incarne une histoire des strates, une figure du transitoire

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