Charles Percier (1764-1838)

A neoclassical French architect, interior decorator and designer, Charles Percier was an illustrious representative of Directoire Style and Empire Style.

Portrait of Charles Percier, Robert Lefèvre, 1807

image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Percier#/media/File:Charles_Percier_par_Robert_Lef%C3%A8vre_-_Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Versailles.jpg

About his life

Percier was born at Paris in 1764. In 1784, at age nineteen, he won the Prix de Rome, a government-funded fellowship for study in Rome. Then he met Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine who became his lifelong friend. As Percier & Fontaine the firm became the leading architects of the Napoleonic period and their works were influential throughout Europe and America, and ensured the Empire style was widely disseminated. In 1801 he was appointed Architects to the Government.


info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Percier#cite_note-1

info source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/architecture-biographies/charles-percier

Pierre Phillippe Thomire after design by Charles Percier, Andiron with Psyche, 1809

image source: https://enfilade18thc.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/catalogue-landing_15-16.jpg?w=300&h=356

What were his major works?

With Fontaine, he redid interiors, walls, and ceilings and designed furniture, accessories, and ornament for the old royal palaces and the new residences of the Bonapartes. Much of their work was done on the Louvre and the Tuileries palaces; they designed the arcades of the rue de Rivoli and the rue de Castiglione along the Louvre and designed the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel connecting the Louvre and Tuileries (1806–08). They also worked on the Château de Saint-Cloud and the Château de Fontainebleau.

Arc du Carrousel, south side view, Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, 1806–15, watercolor and pen

image source: https://enfilade18thc.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/17244.jpg?w=300&h=351

Percier’s production in the realm of interior decoration and furniture design was publicized by the Recueil de décorations intérieures (1801- 1812), a collection of 72 plates of furniture and interior designs and the most important and influential ornament book in France of the time. As Fontaine acknowledged himself, the Recueil was Percier’s masterwork. Percier drew and engraved the plates largely on his own, despite including both of their signatures.

info source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Percier

info source: Charles Percier: Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions

Clock, Charles Percier, 1813

image source: https://enfilade18thc.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/17240.jpg?w=300&h=374

How can we identify Percier’s style?

Percier was a major proponent of the rich, grand, consciously-archaeological versions of neoclassicism we recognise as Directoire style and Empire styleThe Directoire style’s sparse detail and ornamentation were based mostly on ancient Roman objects recovered from excavations at Pompeii. Directoire furniture was the last phase of the Louis XVI style. The Empire style was encouraged by Napoleon’s desire for a style inspired by the grandeur of ancient Egypt and imperial Rome.

info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Empire-style

info source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Directoire-style

Decorative art, Recueil de décorations intérieures, Percier, 1801

image source: http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/DLDecArts/DLDecArts-idx?type=div&did=DLDECARTS.PERCIERIII.I0004&isize=M

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