Perrault, Claude

, an eminent French architect, was the son of an advocate of parliament, and born at Paris, in 1613. He was bred a physician, but practised only among his relations, his friends, and the poor. He discovered early a correct taste for the sciences and fine arts; of which he acquired a consummate knowledge, without the assistance of a master, and was particularly skilled in architecture, painting, sculpture, and mechanics. He still continues to be reckoned one of the greatest architects France ever produced. Louis XIV. who had a good taste for architecture, sent for Bernini from Rome, and other architects; but Perrault was preferred to them all; and what he did at the Louvre justified this preference. The facade of that palace, which was designed by him, “is,” says Voltaire, “one of the most august monuments of architecture in the world. We sometimes,” adds he, “go a great way in search of what we have at home. There is not one of the palaces at Rome, whose entrance is comparable to this of the Louvre; for which we are obliged to Perrault, whom Boileau has attempted to turn into ridicule.” Boileau indeed went so far as to deny that Perrault was the real author of those great designs in architecture that passed for his. Perrault was involved in the quarrel his brother Charles had with Boileau, who, however, when they became reconciled, acknowledged Claude’s merit.

Colbert, the celebrated French minister, who loved architecture, and patronized architects, advised Perrault to undertake the translation of Vitruvius into French, and illustrate it with notes; which he did, and published it in 1673, folio, with engravings from designs of his own, which have been esteemed master-pieces. Perrault was supposed to have succeeded in this work beyond all who went before him, who were either architects without learning, or learned men without any skill in architecture. He united a. | knowledge of every science directly or remotely connected with architecture, and had so extraordinary a genius for mechanics, that he invented the machines by which those stones of fifty-two feet in length, of which the front of the Louvre is formed, were raised. A second edition of his Vitruvius, revised, corrected, and augmented, was printed at Paris, 1684, in folio; and he afterwards published an abridgment for the use of students; and another valuable architectural work, entitled “Ordonnance des cinq Especes de Colonnes, selon la methode des Anciens,1683, fol.

When the academy of sciences was established, he was chosen one of its first members, and was chiefly depended upon in what related to mechanics and natural philosophy. He gave proofs of his great knowledge in these, by the publication of several works; among which were, “Memoires pour servir a Phistoire naturelle des animaux,1671 76, 2 vols. fol. with fine plates; “Essais de Physique,” in 4 vols. 12mo, the three first of which came out in 1680, and the fourth in 1688 c< Recueil de plusieurs machines de nouvelle invention," 1700, 4to, &c. He died Oct. 9, 1688, aged seventy-five. Although he had never publicly practised physic, yet the faculty of Paris, of which he was a member, had such an opinion of his skill, and so much esteem for the man, that after his death they desired his picture of his heirs, and placed it in their public schools with that of Fernelius, Riolanus, and others, who had done honour to their profession. 1

1 Niceron, vol. XXXIII. —Moreri.- Perrault’s Les Hommes Illustres,