Originally published in Le Corbusier Before Le Corbusier, edited by Stanilaus con Moos and Arthur Rüegg. Published for The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002. 45–53.

From the exhibition: Le Corbusier Before Le Corbusier: Applied Arts, Architecture, Painting, and Photography, 1907-1922.

However new it might have claimed to be, the architecture of the Modern Movement nevertheless had its roots in the architecture of the past, particularly the Gothic. As early as 1932, Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson had commented:

In the handling of the problems of structure it [modern architecture] is related to the Gothic, in the handling of the problems of design it is more akin to the Classical. In the preeminence given to the handling of function it is distinguished from both.… As late as 1904 it was possible to conceive of modern architecture chiefly as a sort of renaissance of the Gothic. Yet it should be stressed that the relation of the modern style to the Gothic is ideological rather than visual, a matter of principle rather than a matter of practice. In design, indeed, the leading modern architects aim at Greek serenity rather than Gothic aspiration.1

Subsequent authors have further analyzed the role of the Gothic in the genesis of modern architecture,2 but the definitions of “modern” that underpin such analyses are often imprecise. In one broad interpretation, for example, the modern style is shown to extend from the Eiffel Tower in the late 1880s to the works of Buckminster Fuller in the 1970s.3 Johnson and Hitchcock, however, were speaking of a phenomenon far more restricted in time and of great formal unity, although they shared with other scholars the same conception of Gothic as a rational system of construction. This view has provided modern architecture with a historical justification for its rationality. Modernism has not been the only movement to refer to Gothic in this way; in France, for example, these ideas can be traced to Viollet-le-Duc and before him to origins in the eighteenth century. This current of thinking, however, was not the source of the ideas on Gothic held by Le Corbusier, who played a dominant role in the genesis of the International Style, and in whose work the close connection between ideas and practice is well known.4

Viollet-le-Duc: The Conversion to Rationalism

In spite of its diversity, Jeanneret/Le Corbusier’s architecture in no way recalls the Gothic, with one exception—an early project for a building in the form of a church, drawn when he was eighteen years old for the Union chrétienne de jeunes gens (Christian Youth Union) in La Chaux-de-Fonds.5 A few years later, in 1908, Jeanneret felt he had made the discovery that architecture was a matter of construction, not plastic values; this conversion to rationalism was accompanied by a new enthusiasm for Gothic architecture, spurred on when he acquired a copy of Viollet-le-Duc’s Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française.6 In a letter that year to Charles L’Eplattenier, his teacher, Jeanneret wrote as a convert to the interpretation of Gothic put forth by Viollet-le-Duc and his disciples:

And I went to Notre-Dame, and I attended the end of Magne’s Gothic course—at the École des Beaux-Arts… and I understood.… [Boeswillwald] taught his course on Romanesque and Gothic architecture, and there you could see what architecture really is.7

Sixteen years later, Le Corbusier wrote again of this period, in even more explicit terms:

I was possessed by the fervor for “construction.” I would pass entire afternoons in Notre-Dame in Paris, armed with an enormous bunch of keys from the Ministère des Beaux-Arts. I knew every corner of the cathedral, down to the tips of its towers, pinnacles, and flying-buttresses. This was for me the Gothic period.8

By then, however, this period in Le Corbusier’s development had virtually come to an end, as he made clear in the same article in L’Esprit nouveau:

But that admiration for Gothic form and poetry which I would so eagerly have expressed was bound up with the structure. Nowadays I am ravished by the primary beauty of a cathedral plan, and stupefied by the weakness, in plastic terms, of the work itself. The Gothic plan and section are magnificent, sparkling with ingeniousness. But none of this is evident to the eyes of one examining the actual building. Amazing apogee of the engineer, defeat of plastic art.9

A few years earlier, he had formulated the same critique more precisely in one of the articles that would eventually comprise Vers une architecture (1923; translated into English in 1927 as Towards a New Architecture):

Gothic architecture is not, fundamentally, based on spheres, cones and cylinders. Only the nave is an expression of a simple form, but of a complex geometry of the second order (intersecting arches). It is for that reason that a cathedral is not very beautiful and that we search in it for compensations of a subjective kind outside plastic art. A cathedral interests us as the ingenious solution of a difficult problem, but a problem of which the postulates have been badly stated because they do not proceed from the great primary forms. The cathedral is not a plastic work; it is a drama; a fight against the force of gravity, which is a sensation of a sentimental nature. [emphasis by Le Corbusier]10

There is nothing surprising in this judgment, because what Le Corbusier defended in Vers une architecture is in fact an aesthetic that is foreign to cathedrals, instead finding its inspiration in Roman antiquity. His attitude thus seems to confirm the opinion of Hitchcock and Johnson concerning the International Style and would do so even more strongly if Le Corbusier had at this point still shown the slightest interest in the structure of the Gothic cathedral. The only positive aspect he conceded, however, also concerned form (“only the nave is an expression of a simple form”). He conceived the struggle against heaviness not as a problem of construction, the solution of which would depend upon calculation, but rather as a “drama.” The two terms of the opposition underlined by Hitchcock and Johnson, therefore, do not constitute—in Le Corbusier’s thought, at any rate—two aspects of his work beginning around 1920, but instead represent two phases of an evolution that led him from admiration for Gothic structure in 1908 to a dislike of Gothic form some ten years later.

This admiration for Gothic structure was hardly original in 1908. Jeanneret even mentions courses taught by Lucien Magne and Paul-Louis Boeswillwald—to which could be added those taught by Anatole de Baudot at the Musée de Trocadéro starting in 1887 and published in 1916.11 In these, de Baudot referred again and again to the theories of Viollet-le-Duc, which had nourished the whole of rationalist thought in French architecture. These ideas became so commonplace that it seems surprising for them to be a revelation when encountered by the young architect:

… judging from Jeanneret’s unusual response to these new concepts, he seems never to have been exposed to them before. This last point is odd since these concepts were nothing new in France, and indeed in many ways were part of the architectural “establishment,” through the writings of Viollet-le-Duc, Hippolyte Taine, the courses taught by Anatole de Baudot, and those taught at the École des Beaux-Arts by Julien Guadet—Perret’s teacher.12

Ruskin, Choisy, and the Rejection of Germany

Regardless of the great diffusion of Viollet-le-Duc’s thought abroad, especially in French Switzerland, where Viollet-le-Duc died, at least at La Chaux-de-Fonds it was nonetheless eclipsed totally by the work of another theoretician of the Gothic who defended a vision that was anything but rationalist: John Ruskin.13 For the young Jeanneret, Ruskin’s Mornings in Florence, which he owned in a French translation of 1906, was an important influence.14 Jeanneret’s mentor L’Eplattenier may have studied in Paris, but L’Eplattenier’s teaching was rooted in the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement. While L’Eplattenier does not seem to have been especially open to the ideas of Viollet-le-Duc, he admired Ruskin profoundly and passed that enthusiasm on to his student.15 Thus the young Jeanneret was educated in a milieu dominated by the English vision of the Middle Ages, particularly the Gothic, making his 1908 discovery of the French tradition such a revelation.

Despite the fervor of his 1908 letter to L’Eplattenier, it is far from certain that Jeanneret fully converted to French rationalism. The appeal to truth and honesty, the accusation of dishonesty leveled against certain representatives of Art Nouveau, in short, that confusion of architecture and morality which would characterize Jeanneret/Le Corbusier’s thinking throughout his career, all this derives directly from Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture. He was also to remain faithful to Ruskin over Viollet-le-Duc in his abhorrence for the restoration of architectural monuments, a hatred that he would articulate again in Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches, in which he speaks of Périgueux Cathedral in terms that recall the sixth of Ruskin’s “lamps,” the “Lamp of Memory.”16

Ruskin’s influence is also evident in drawings Jeanneret made during his trip to Italy in 1907. Nothing in them reveals any interest in the structure of medieval buildings. His interest lay rather with the sculpted decoration, polychromy, and skin of the stone. Later, in 1917, he viewed the cathedral of Chartres with the eyes of a painter.[I7] Another example, however, seemed to point in a different direction: the geometric scheme superimposed on a photograph of the facade of Notre-Dame in Paris, published in Vers une architecture to illustrate the concept of regulating lines.18 Clearly the issue here was proportion, not construction. The immediate source for this illustration was not Viollet-le-Duc but Auguste Choisy, whose Histoire de l’architecture Jeanneret had acquired in 1913.19 Choisy, who was among Viollet-le-Duc’s admirers, promoted architectural rationalism, and it was supposedly from him that Le Corbusier had taken the idea of regulating lines, at least according to what he admitted in 1924.20

Le Corbusier actually owed far less to Choisy than he claimed. Only a portion of the pages of Le Corbusier’s copy of Choisy’s book were even cut.21 Although in Vers une architecture Le Corbusier borrowed one of Choisy’s illustrations, showing the proportions of an Achaemenian temple, Choisy himself had borrowed this picture from a book by Marcel Dieulafoy on ancient Persian art.22 Neither Dieulafoy’s geometric outline nor Choisy’s for Notre-Dame, however, have any connection with the regulating lines that Le Corbusier used for his own works, which depended upon a very different system. According to what he wrote later in Le Modulor (1951), the revelation upon which his system depended occurred while he was studying the facade of the Senators’ Palace on the Roman Capitoline.23 It was a system that had been used by Heinrich Wölfflin in 1889, and before him by August Thiersch in his famous Handbuch der Architektur (1883).24

In fact, Le Corbusier seems to have claimed Choisy’s influence just to obscure his debt to German theorists. After World War I, Le Corbusier was forced to eliminate all memory of or reference to what he owed to Germany,25 and he vigorously attacked

German architecture. This same hostility explains the vision of Gothic he forged around 1920, which owed nothing to the rationalist tradition associated with Viollet-le-Duc and in which the picturesque qualities admired by Ruskin took on a negative value. Nowhere is this view more forcefully stated than in Urbanisme (1925) and in his Sorbonne lecture entitled “L’Esprit nouveau en architecture”:

And there is the cathedral, with its pointed forms, its jagged silhouette, with a clear desire for order, but totally lacking in that calm and equilibrium that are the mark of fully developed civilizations (Rouen Cathedral).26

In the lecture he compared Romanesque and Gothic towns, though he refrained from using “Gothic.” According to him, the Romanesque was characterized by simple and pure geometric forms inherited from ancient architecture and by the domination of the horizontal, while the Gothic town, which he referred to simply as the town of the Middle Ages, presented “a totally different aesthetic.”27 This difference in aesthetics expressed a cultural difference. As the mind and spirit of a society were expressed in geometry, the irregularity of medieval forms (Gothic forms) betrayed a residue of barbarism that remained until the inauguration of a new “intellectual clarity” during the Renaissance.


The idea of the Middle Ages as a somber parenthetical period of barbarism, bracketed by antiquity at one end and its rebirth at the other, derived from a centuries-old view of history, which by 1925 might well have seemed totally outmoded. Although the official historiography of the French Republic condemned feudalism and the domination of the medieval Church over mind and spirit, this judgment in no way concerned Gothic architecture. In fact it was thought of in a totally different manner, derived from the theory of Viollet-le-Duc, as a reflection of the emancipation of the medieval communes, which was itself seen as a first step in that long evolution toward the eventual triumph of free thinking and Republican government. The return of barbarism was instead dated nearly a millennium earlier, with the demise of antiquity after the invasion of the Roman empire by the barbarians—that is, by the Germanic peoples. Le Corbusier took up this idea, which originated in the Renaissance, but to salvage Romanesque architecture he did not hesitate to reposition the great invasions “between the year 1000 and the year 1200.”28

This crude manipulation of history had its own special logic. The term Gothic derived from the name of Alaric’s Goths, those barbarians from the north who sacked Rome in A.D. 410 and who were considered to have brought with them an architecture that the Italians of the Renaissance called either “maniera gotica” or “maniera tedesca.” Much later, during the Romantic period, when a more precise use of the term Gothic came to designate the architecture that today is known by that name, the idea that its origins were Germanic allowed it to be taken up in Germany as the national style. Even though the progress of medieval archaeology quickly established that the Gothic system of construction had in fact been invented in north central France, the idea that the Gothic style constituted the purest expression of the Germanic soul persisted in Germany and even enjoyed a resurgence at the beginning of the twentieth century. In explaining the passage from the Romanesque to the Gothic through the trick of moving by some six to eight centuries what the Germans call the “Völkerwanderungen” (migration) and what the French at the time called “les invasions barbares,” Le Corbusier managed to give a historical basis to the German conception of the Gothic, while at the same time confirming the negative value the term had possessed from the Renaissance to the Romantic period.

Psychological Aesthetics

The need to justify what are ultimately existential convictions via rational, functional, or factual arguments must be considered one of the fundamental features of Le Corbusier’s mind. This recourse to history—albeit an extremely manipulated history—is one example, but he also based his critique of Gothic architecture on another discipline, so-called psychological aesthetics, which at the time claimed a scientific status, having enjoyed a considerable success in Germany during the second half of the nineteenth century.29 Wölfflin referred to psychological aesthetics in his doctoral thesis on the psychology of architecture, in which he mentions the agreeable or disagreeable effects produced on the human eye by different lines.30 Echoing this theory, Le Corbusier argued that broken lines creating irregular forms (those of the Gothic, needless to say) provoked an unpleasant sensation in the viewer.31 Expounding such a theory, Le Corbusier again shows his debt to Germanic culture.32

Lines are not simply straight or curved, sinuous or broken; they are also horizontal or vertical. For a long time, this opposition held great importance in the historiography of architecture. By 1920 it was already a commonplace, which in both France and Germany encompassed the opposition between classicism and the Gothic. Gothic verticality was thus held in Germany to be the natural expression of the Germanic soul, as Wölfflin wrote in his doctoral thesis: “One could almost say that the opposition of southern and northern ways of life is expressed in the opposition between horizontal and vertical proportions.”33

Such a view is difficult to reconcile with the existence and chronological primacy of the cathedrals of north central France. German writers such as Wilhelm Uhde responded that the system of rib vault construction was but a marginal aspect of the Gothic, that it must not be confused with its more profound essence, and that in its essence the Gothic was never fully adopted in France because of the character of the populace, who were, they said, too tinged with Gaulish or Latin elements. This was why, as Uhde wrote in 1928, “the Gothic style invented by that genius who had created Gallo-Roman forms slowly freed itself from the Gothic mentality, to which it was foreign, and then developed according to the spirit of its race, which is to say that it became Romanesque and horizontal.”34

However absurd such ideas may seem today, they are identical to those found in Le Corbusier’s writings of the same period. He too thought that verticality characterized German architecture, as he wrote in 1920 in L’Esprit nouveau: “The systematic use of the vertical in Germany is a mysticism, a mysticism of physical things, the poison of German architecture.”35

As for French architecture, including that of the Gothic cathedrals, horizontality was the key principle, as Le Corbusier claimed to have demonstrated in an illustration accompanying an article on American and French cities of the future.36 The image was a photomontage in which a perspective view of the Plan Voisin for Paris and the facade of Notre-Dame were surrounded by several drawings of skyscraper rising in a pyramid and a photograph of the skyline of Manhattan, accompanied by a caption that read: “Two opposing spirits: the French tradition, Notre-Dame, Plan Voisin (horizontal skyscrapers), and the American line (tumult, bristling, first explosive stage of a new Middle Ages).”37

By the terms used, Le Corbusier clearly likened the architecture of Manhattan to German architecture (that is, to the Gothic), while the perspective of the Plan Voisin shows skyscrapers of equal height whose flat roofs are horizontally aligned. The image of Notre-Dame is cropped to exclude its towers, thereby emphasizing the horizontality of its facade.

Le Corbusier always had a marked preference for horizontality. The account of his Voyage d’Orient revealed him even then to be particularly sensitive to the horizontality of the dominant lines of the landscape. Just as, according to him, pure geometric forms reflected the profound laws of the universe, so the horizon provided us with “the most humanly perceptible measure of the universe.”38 Consequently, it was in architecture that the meaning of this line affirmed itself. The Romanesque city was horizontal, like the succession of skyscraper roofs in the Plan Voisin. There is perhaps no more revealing text in this connection than a short article of 1925 on the traditional houses of Brittany.39 For Le Corbusier, the value of these lay in the horizontal crowning of the gable, “the only horizontal against the sky, like the meeting of sea and sky,” because “without this horizontal crown above the gable, the Breton lands would no longer exist for our eyes as they do at present.”40 But the replacement of traditional thatch by modern slates or tiles would have entailed a modification of these gables; they would have lost their character as a result. It would not have been surprising for Le Corbusier to approve a new form resulting from the use of a new material, but this was not the case, for the loss of the rectilinear gable also entailed the loss of that cosmic harmony between the line of the roofs and the line traced by the meeting of sky and sea. Fortunately, he added, an Italian immigrant was able to construct an inn in concrete with a roof terrace, thereby re-creating this harmony (drawing on a Mediterranean architectural tradition).

Le Corbusier was drawn to Mediterranean culture,41 while repelled by the Germanic. The two responses were inseparable, like two complementary aspects of the same vision. The opposition between north and south, between the Germanic world and the Latin world, dominated his mind just as it had dominated European thought for generations. Confronted with it at the start of the twentieth century, however, the Swiss architect found himself in a special situation. The Helvetic Confederation of cantons—that is, Switzerland—as shaped and defined by the Constitution of 1848 was still a young country in search of a national identity. In French Switzerland, in the first years of the century, this led to the adoption of an architectural style, later baptized Heimatstil (homeland style). It was strongly influenced by the traditional architecture of the old cities of Alemannian Switzerland—an aspect of the international regionalism to which Le Corbusier made concessions in the villas he constructed at La Chaux-de-Fonds between 1906 and 1908.

Around the same time, French Switzerland reacted against Germanic culture, which was also that of Alemannian Switzerland, and began to favor the Mediterranean world, the cradle of Latin culture. In a book entitled Les Entretiens de la Villa du Rouet, published in 1908, Alexandre Cingria-Vaneyre (the painter Alexandre Cingria) postulated fictive dialogues set in a villa in Florence during which the tenets of this intellectual movement were debated.42 Le Corbusier read the book during his stay in Berlin,43 and several of its ideas later flowed from his own pen, including an admiration for bridges, dams, railways, and other engineering works. The definition of southern architecture offered by Constance, one of the interlocutors in the book, comes very close to his own ideal, which was the development of constructions in terms of width, in the horizontal sense, and a “horizontal or at least flattened termination of roofs and their ridges.”44

It seems logical to attribute the classical orientation assumed by Le Corbusier’s architecture in 1912 in the Villa Favre-Jacot and the Villa Jeanneret to his reading of Les Entretiens,45 but more likely what he found there was an ideological justification for this new orientation. The return to classicism was actually very widespread in Europe beginning around 1910, as evidenced in, for example, the Théàtre des Champs-Elysées by Perret in Paris, the Nouvelle Comédie by Henry Baudin in Geneva, or the Villa Primavesi by Hoffmann in Vienna. It was particularly noticeable in Berlin, in the town halls of Schöneberg and Spandau, or the Reichsmarineamt, not to mention the works of Peter Behrens, especially the Villa Wiegand. Le Corbusier must have been using Mediterranean classicism as a pretext, when in fact he was making use of developments occurring in Germany.46

As for Cingria’s book, it was not only a manifesto in favor of classicism, but also, through the device of a conversation among friends, a protest against “the false direction our national life is taking,” and a call for “again taking up the Latin cause, right to the frontiers of the empire, and for giving French Switzerland the right to live as a culture and as a nation amongst the peoples of Europe.”47 In short it urged an end to German domination. In architecture, this meant a break not only with the Gothic—“a sort of sickness of our European spirit”—but also with the medievalizing picturesque, the “colored roofs” such as those one saw “in the old Swiss towns” whose “Germanic silhouettes affirmed that in the twentieth century Helvetia had definitively conquered this beautiful and classical corner of the earth.”48 This description is reminiscent of the medieval, or Gothic, town that Le Corbusier attacked sixteen years later in his “L’Esprit nouveau en architecture” (1924).

Jeanneret not only read Cingria’s book, but also made the acquaintance of the author, participating in 1916 in a reunion of colleagues from the journal Cahiers vaudois.49 These contacts confirm a recent hypothesis that Cingria’s book influenced Jeanneret to return to La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1911, where he would remain for several years.50 His ultimate disillusionment with his homeland, however, where he found little work, was profound, and when he left in 1917 he was in despair and with scant hope for the future.51 This departure does not mean that Le Corbusier had made a break with Switzerland, despite the bitterness he later harbored toward his country.52 His attitude concerning Gothic in the years after World War I, the corollary to his attachment to Latin culture, showed that he was still influenced by ideas he had absorbed within the intellectual milieu of French Switzerland.

His change in attitude came only after 1930, just as a parallel change occurred—quite abruptly—in his architecture, from which the long horizontals of uninterrupted windows disappeared.53 The Gothic ceased at that time to be either explicitly or implicitly opposed in his mind to the pure forms of Mediterranean classicism. At the time, he even referred to the relationship that Viollet-le-Duc had theorized between materials and construction techniques (though he neglected to cite its source).54 The essential point for him, however, lay neither in construction nor in form, but in the meaning of the cathedral, understood as an incarnation of the unity of the French people and of their vitality. When in 1937 he entitled a book Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches, it was because he saw in these buildings “an act of optimism, a gesture of courage, a sign of pride, a proof of mastery,” which he compared to their present condition, covered with the “blackness of soot and corroded by wear.”55 In the fall of 1939, while writing Sur les quatre routes, Le Corbusier saw the cathedrals as a symbol of the renewal that France needed.56 After World War II, in 1946, in his Manière de penser l’urbansime (translated as Looking at City Planning), he depicted the cathedral in its glory, fully isolated on all sides, as the center and heart of the city—as it had been seen by German architects from Karl Friedrich Schinkel to Bruno Taut.57 For Le Corbusier then as after World War I the Gothic—whether rejected or exalted—embodied both his loathings and his longings. But since the Romantic era had it ever really been anything else, whether for historians and archaeologists or for artists and poets?

© Bard Graduate Center, Peter Vaisse.

1.Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style: Architecture Since 1922 (1932; reprint, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1966): 24. The author’s interpretation of the International Style had been developed by Hitchcock in his earlier book, Modern Architecture: Romanticism and Reintegration (1929; reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1972).

2.See Luciano Patetta, “Il gotico dei goticisti come laboratorio e cantiere d’avanguardia,” in Il neogotico nel XIX e XX secolo, ed. Rossana Bossaglia (Milan: Mazzota, 1989), 1: 309–22; and Maija Bismanis, “Medievalism and Modernism: An Architectural Link,” in L’Art et les révolutions, Acts of the twenty-seventh International Congress of the History of Art, section 6, Survivances et réveils de l’architecture gothique (Strasbourg: Société alsacienne pour le Développement de l’Histoire de l’Art, 1992): 77–84.

3.Bruno Zevi, Architettura e storiografia (Turin: Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, 1974). Zevi wrote on the indebtedness of modern architecture to the styles of the past.

4.For Le Corbusier’s relationship to the art and architecture of the past, see Le Corbusier: Le Passé à réaction poétique, exhib. cat. (Paris: Caisse national des Monuments historiques et des Sites, 1987–88). This work contains abundant documentation, though unfortunately presented in a fragmentary and uncritical fashion.

5.The project was published in 1914 in the review L’Education en Suisse. See also H. Allen Brooks, “Formation,” in Le Corbusier: une encyclopédie, ed. Jacques Lucan (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1987): 159. Brooks judges it to be in the Art Nouveau style, but of course the extent to which Art Nouveau could be inspired by Gothic is well known.

6.Viollet-le-Duc, Dictonnaire raisonné de l’architecture français du XIe au XVI siècle (Paris: Bance, then Morel, 1854–68). According to Maurice Besset, who claimed to have gotten the information from Le Corbusier himself, the Dictonnaire was the first purchase Le Corbusier made with the money he earned working for the architect Auguste Perret in Paris in 1908–9.

7.[Et j’allai à Notre-Dame et je suivis la fin du cours gothique de Magne—aux Beaux-Arts … et je compris.… Boennelwald a repris un cours d’architecture romane-gothique et là éclate ce qu’est l’architecture], CEJ to Charles L’Eplattenier, ca. 22–25 November 1908, reproduced in LC, Vers une architecture (1923; reprint, ed. Eugène Claudius-Petit, Paris: Éditions Arthaud, 1977): 247–53. “Boennelwald” is obviously an erroneous rendering of “Boeswillwald” (Paul-Louis Boeswillwald), who was professor at the École des beaux-arts from 1863 on.

8.[J’eus la ferveur de la “construction”. Je passais des après-midi entières sur Notre-Dame de Paris, muni du trousseau énorme des clefs du Ministère des Beaux-Arts. Je connus les moindres recoins de la cathédrale jusqu’à l’extrémité des tours, des pinacles et des arcs-boutants. Ce fut pour moi l’épopée gothique], LC, “Confession,” in L’Art décoratif d’aujourd’hui (1925; reprint, Paris: Vincent , Fréal, 1959): 207–8.

9.[Mais les admirations que j’eusse volontiers vouées à la forme et à la poésie gothiques s’étaient repliées sur la structure. Aujourd’hui je suis frappé de saisissement devant la beauté première d’un plan de cathédrale, et de stupéfaction devant la pauvreté plastique première de l’œuvre elle-même. Le plan et la coupe gothique sont magnifiques, étincelantes d’ingéniosité. Mais leur vérification n’est apportée par la contrôle des yeux. Etonnante apogée d’ingénieur, défaite plastique], Ibid., pp. 208–9.

10.[L’architecture gothique n’est pas, dans son fondement, à base de sphères, cônes et cylindres. La nef seule exprime une forme simple, mais d’une géométrie complexe de second ordre (croisée d’ogives). C’est pour cela qu’une cathédrale n’est pas très belle et que nous y cherchons des compensations d’un ordre subjectif, hors de la plastique. Une cathédrale nous intéresse comme l’ingénieuse solution d’un problème difficile, mais dont les données ont été mal posées parce qu’elles ne procèdent pas des grandes formes primaires. La cathédrale, n’est pas une œuvre plastique; c’est un drame: la lutte contre la pesanteur, sensation d’ordre sentimental], LC, Vers une architecture (1923/1977): 19; idem, Towards a New Architecture, trans. Frederick Etchells (New York: Payson & Clarke, 1927): 30.

11.Anatole de Baudot, L’Architecture, le passé, le présent (Paris: Renouard et H. Laurens, 1916).

12.Paul V. Turner, The Education of Le Corbusier (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1977): 47.

13.For Viollet-le-Duc’s influence abroad, see the Actes du Colloque International Viollet-le-Duc, 1980 (Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1982); for Viollet-le-Duc and Switzerland, see Viollet-le-Duc: Centenaire de la mort à Lausanne, exhib. cat. (Lausanne: Musée historique de l’Ancien Evêché, 1979). Viollet-le-Duc died in Lausanne, where he had been called to restore the cathedral steeple, and where he had built himself a villa.

14.For the importance of Ruskin to Jeanneret, see Turner, Education (1977): passim.

15.Giuliano Gresleri, ‘”Antiquité. Vers une architecture classique,” in Le Corbusier: une encyclopédie (1987): 41; William Curtis, Le Corbusier: Ideas and Forms (Oxford: Phaidon, 1986): 18; see also Mary P. M. Sekler, “Le Corbusier, Ruskin, the Tree and the Open Hand,” in The Open Hand: Essays on Le Corbusier, ed. Russell Walden (Cambridge, Mass., and London: MIT Press, 1977): 42–95. According to William Curtis, the diffusion in La Chaux-de-Fonds of the ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement was helped by the presence at Neuchâtel of the Englishman Clement Heaton, designer of several designs for stained-glass windows. Heaton and L’Eplattenier may have made a voyage to England together (Mary P. M. Sekler, “The Early Drawings of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret [Le Corbusier], 1902–1908,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1973). Nicole Quellet-Soguel, who has studied the life and work of Heaton, stated that she knew of no document attesting to any relationship between the two artists; see Nicole Quellet-Soguel, “L’idéal esthétique de Clement Heaton,” in Clement Heaton, 1861–1940, exhib. cat., Musée d’art et d’histoire de Neuchâtel (London, Neuchâtel, New York, Hauterive: Editions Gilles Attinger, 1996): 199, n. 6. Still, the two towns are too close for L’Eplattenier and Jeanneret not to have been aware of Heaton.

16.LC, Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches (1937; reprint Paris: Denoël/Gonthier, 1977): 21–22.

[17]. Le Corbusier: Le Passé (1987–88): 89–90. The sketches of Chartres Cathedral (and other travel scenes) are in Carnet 10, FLC.

18.LC, Vers une architecture (1923/1977): 59; idem, Towards a New Architecture (1927): 77.

19.Auguste Choisy, Histoire de l’architecture ([1899]; reprint, Paris: Vincent, Fréal, 1964), 2: 316 (where he shows an interior elevation of Notre-Dame, not the facade). For the date of Le Corbusier’s acquisition of the book, see Turner, Education (1977): 234.

20.For Le Corbusier’s lecture of 12 June 1924 at the Sorbonne, see “L’Esprit nouveau en architecture” Almanach d’architecture (1925): 37. Le Corbusier returned to the theme of Choisy’s book and its importance to him in Le Modulor (1951; reprint, Paris: Denoël/Gonthier, 1977): 23. On Choisy’s ideas, see Reyner Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1960): 23–34. It seems somewhat surprising that Le Corbusier did not refer to the article “Proportion” from Viollet-le-Duc’s Dictonnaire raisonné.

21.Turner, Education (1977): 119.

22.Choisy, Histoire de l’architecture ([1899]/1964), 1: II4; Marcel Dieulafoy, L’Art antique de la Perse (Paris, 1885); LC, Vers une architecture (192 3/1977): 58; idem, Towards a New Architecture (1927): 76. For Dieulafoy and Le Corbusier, see Turner, Education (1977): 189; and Pierre Saddy, “Tracés,” in Le Corbusier: Le Passé (1987–88): 60–61.

23.LC, Le Modulor (1951/1977): 23.

24.This connection was established in Jacques Paul, Einige Vorfahren zu Le Corbusiers Proportionstheorie, Renaissance Lecture I (Nuremberg: Museen der Stadt, n.d.). See also Heinrich Wölfflin, “Zur Lehre von den Proportionen” (1889), in Kleine Schriften (Basel: Benno Schwabe, 1946): 48–50; August Thiersch, Handbuch der Architektur, pt. 4, first half-vol., Die architektonische Composition (1883; reprint, Darmstadt, 1893). For the rapprochement with Thiersch, see Winfried Nerdinger, “Standard und Typ: Le Corbusier und Deutschland, 1920–1927,” in L’Esprit Nouveau: Le Corbusier und die industrie, 1920–1925, exhib. cat. (Zürich and Berlin: Museum für Gestaltung and Wilhelm Ernst and Sohn, 1987): 45. According to Nerdinger, Theodor Fischer introduced Le Corbusier to Thiersch’s book in Munich in the spring of 1910.

25.Werner Oechslin, “Allemagne. Influences, confluences et reniements,” in Le Corbusier: une encyclopédie (1987): 33; and idem, “Le Corbusier und die Schweiz: eine schwierige Beziehung,” in Le Corbusier und die Schweiz: Dokumente einer schwierige Beziehung (Zürich: Institur für Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur der E.T.H., 1987): 8 ff. For Le Corbusier’s attack on German architecture, see Paul Boulard [pseud.], “Allemagne,” L’Esprit nouveau, no. 27 (November 1924), n.p.

26.[Et la cathédrale est là, en formes aiguës, en silhouette déchiquetée, avec un désir d’ordre évident, mais totalement dépourvue du calme et de l’équilibre qui témoignent des civilisations abouties (cathédrale de Rouen)], LC, Urbanisme (1925; reprint, Paris: Vincent, Fréal, 1966): 36.

27.[… une ésthetique toute différente], LC, “L’Esprit nouveau” (1925): 23.

28.Ibid., p. 22: “… des hommes arrivés de tous côtés, de nouveaux peuples, achevaient leur mélange avec d’anciens peuples; il en résultait un chaos général” (… men arrived from every side, new peoples, and completed their mixing with the older peoples; the result was a general chaos).

29.Hermann Drüe, “Die psychologische Ästhetik im Deutschen Kaiserreich,” in Ideengeschiste, und Kunstwissenschaft im Kaiserreich, ed. E. Mai, St. Waetzoldt, and G. Wolandt (Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1983): 71–98.

30.Heinrich Wölfflin, “Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur” (1886), in Kleine Schriften (1946): 13–47.

31.LC, “L’Esprit nouveau” (1925): 33; and idem, “Architecture d’époque machiniste,” Journal de Psychologie normale et pathologique, 23rd Annual (1926): 343–44.

32.Another possible influence has sometimes been cited: Victor Basch, “L’Esthétique nouvelle et la science de l’art,” letter to the editor, L’Esprit nouveau, no. 1 (15 October 1920): 5–12. This only begs the question of why the editors chose this for the first issue of the journal in the first place; Basch was a professor of aesthetics at the Sorbonne.

33.[Man könne fast sagen, der Gegensatz von südlichem und nördlichem Lebensgefühl sei ausgedrückt in dem Gegensatz der liegenden und stehenden Proportionen], Wölfflin, “Prolegomena” (1886/1946): 33.

34.[… le style gothique découvert par le génie créateur de formes gallo-romaines se libéra peu à peu de la mentalité gothique qui lui était étrangère, se développa dans l’esprit de sa race, c’est-à-dire devint roman et horizontal], Wilhelm Uhde, Picasso et la tradition française: Notes sur la peinture actuelle (Paris: Editions des Quatre Chemins, 1928): 48.

35.[L’emploi systématique de la verticale, en Allemagne, est un mysticisme, un mysticisme dans les choses de la physique, le poison de l’architecture allemande], Le Corbusier-Saugnier [pseud.]. “Curiosité’ Non: anomalie,” L’Esprit Nouveau, no. 9 (June 1920): 1017.

36.LC, “Descartes est-il américain?” (1931), in La Ville radieuse (Boulogne, Seine: Éditions de l’architecture d’aujourd’hui, 1935): 127–34.

37.[Deux esprits s’opposent: la tradition de France, Notre-Dame, plan “Voisin” (les gratte-ciel “horizontaux”) et la ligne américaine (tumulte, hérissement, premier état explosif d’un nouveau moyen âge], Ibid., p. 71. The drawings of skyscrapers were studies by Hugh Ferriss for his book, The Metropolis of Tomorrow (New York: I. Washburn, 1929).

38.[… la mesure la plus humainement perceptible de l’univers], LC, Le Voyage d’orient (Paris: Les Editions Forces Vives, 1966): 125; see also ibid., pp. 126, 128, 132.

39.LC, “Un standard meurt. Un standard naît,” Almanach d’Architecture Moderne (Paris: G. Crès, 1925): 83–90.

40.[… seule horizontale sur le ciel, qui soit comme les confins de la mer sur le ciel] [sans ce couronnement horizontal sur le fronton il n’y aurait plus pour nos yeux de pays breton], Ibid., p. 87.

41.See Le Corbusier et la Méditerranée, exhib. cat. (Marseille: Centre de la Vieille Charité and Editions Parenthèses, 1987).

42.A. Cingria-Vaneyre, Les Entretiens de la villa du Rouet: Essais dialogués sur les arts plastiques en Suisse romande (Genève: A. Jullien, 1908).

43.Turner, Education (1977): 83–91.

44.[… terminaison horizontale ou du moins surbaissée des toitures et des faîtes], Cingria-Vaneyrc, Les Entretiens (1908): 308–10.

45.See Turner, Education (1977): 86.

46.This hypothesis has been made by Nerdinger, “Standard und Typ” (1987): 44. For other influences that might have weighed on Le Courbusier at this time, see Geoffrey Baker, “The Early Villas in La Chaux-de-Fonds by Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris,” in Le Corbusier: Early Works by Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, ed. Geoffrey Baker and Jacques Gubler (London: Academy Editions, and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987): 16, n. 18.

47.[… la fausse direction de notre vie nationale] [… reprendre la cause latine aux frontière de l’empire et redonner à la Suisse romande le droit de vivre comme culture et comme nation parmi les peuples de l’Europe], Cingria-Vaneyre, Les Entretiens (1908): vii, viii. For an even more explicit declaration, see ibid., p. 308: “Le fond de notre désir, c’est de nous affirmer fortement méditerranéens et de rompre, par conséquent, tout ce qui nous relie avec les civilisations celto-germaniques” (Our ultimate desire is to affirm ourselves as thoroughly Mediterranean, and consequently to sever all ties that bind us to Celto-Germanic civilizations).

48.[… une sorte de maladie de notre esprit européen] [les toitures de toute couleurs … les vieux bourgs suisses, … leur silhouette germanique affirmera qu’au XXe siècle l’Helvétie conquit définitivement de coin de terre classique et belle], Ibid., pp. 7, 22–23.

49.LC, Carnets (Paris: Herscher/Dessain et Tolra, 1981), I: 138 (Carnet A2), note of 21 June 1916: “Je suis invité par Cingri” (I was invited by Cingria).

50.Turner, Education (1977): 91.

51.Adolf Max Vogt, “Le Corbusier: Der zornerfüllte Abschied von La Chaux-de-Fonds 1917,” Nos Monuments d’Art et d’Histoire 43, no. 4 (1992): 539–47.

52.LC, “Mes rapports avec la Suisse,” in Le Corbusier und die Schweiz: Dokumente einer schwierigen Beziehung (Zürich: Institut für Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur der E.T.H., 1987): 42–50.

53.Regarding the change in Le Corbusier’s architecture, see Peter Serenyi, “Le Corbusier’s Changing Attitude Toward Form,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 24, no. 1 (March 1965): 15–23.

54.LC, Sur les quatres routes (1941; reprint, Paris: Denoël/Gonthier, 1970): 27–29 .

55.[… un acte d’optimisme, un geste de courage, un signe de fierté, une preuve de maîtrise] [noir de suie et rongé par l’usure], LC, Quand les cathédrales (1937/ 1977): 12.

56.LC, Sur les quatres routes (1941/1970): 174.

57.LC, Manière de penser l’urbanisme (1946; reprint, Paris: Denoël/Gonthier, 1970): 64.