The consecration of a paper-house: Arts and the state under the patronage of Charles-Philippe de Bourbon (1777--1825)
I examine the possibility of representing an eternal idea in visible and material form. A built construct would have the duration of its constituent material independently of the duration of the ideal content behind its erection or the need for its programme. The Thesis spans two stages of the life and patronage of the Bourbon prince Charles-Philippe—the youngest brother of King Louis XVI—who had lived through the French Revolution and was crowned as King Charles X during the Restoration. Answering to his whims as a prince—François-Joseph Belanger—or re-instating him as the legitimate sovereign as Charles X—Jacques Ignace Hittorff—his architects constructed what an office required for princely etiquette or kingly liturgy. His patronage offered a striking example of loyalty swiftly and constantly swayed by torrential wind of political change in a span of two decades. The thesis begins in 1777 when Belanger was appointed first architect of Charles-Philippe (then comte d'Artois) and was commissioned to build the Chateau de Bagatelle in two months so that the prince may win a bet; and ends in 1825 with the consecration ceremony of Charles-Philippe as King Charles X. Addressing the pleasure etiquette of a princely office (Bagatelle) or the liturgy of proclaiming kingship (the consecration ceremony) political exigencies determined the duration of each commission. By its ideal content, political architecture may never survive the founding office to endure the natural laws of blight. The laws of nations—governing territory and borders, peace and war—also govern the perpetuity of the office, the body politic. The body politic, the eternal half of the union of man and office in coronation, is an ideal that is external to the laws of natural necessity. Laws of natural necessity govern the durability of an artifact as material weathers releasing the sublime perpetuity of the idea. Eternity—in extending outside the boundaries of the visible world, has no known boundaries that define its entirety; and so there may be no visible representation of the eternal, for material is finite. By temporary construction, the visible form—along with the ideal content—would be emancipated from the government of the natural forces of blight. By having boundaries in space and time, a temporary structure defies the natural forces of blight that would otherwise govern the duration of a permanent construction. ^
Taha Abdul Aziz Al-Douri,
"The consecration of a paper-house: Arts and the state under the patronage of Charles-Philippe de Bourbon (1777--1825)"
(January 1, 2000).
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