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Paris on the Potomac

The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C.

Cynthia R. Field

Publication Year: 2013

In 1910 John Merven Carrère, a Paris-trained American architect, wrote, “Learning from Paris made Washington outstanding among American cities.” The five essays in Paris on the Potomac explore aspects of this influence on the artistic and architectural environment of Washington, D.C., which continued long after the well-known contributions of Peter Charles L’Enfant, the transplanted French military officer who designed the city’s plan.

Isabelle Gournay’s introductory essay provides an overview and examines the context and issues involved in three distinct periods of French influence: the classical and Enlightenment principles that prevailed from the 1790s through the 1820s, the Second Empire style of the 1850s through the 1870s, and the Beaux-Arts movement of the early twentieth century. William C. Allen and Thomas P. Somma present two case studies: Allen on the influence of French architecture, especially the Halle aux Blés, on Thomas Jefferson’s vision of the U.S. Capitol; and Somma on David d’Angers’s busts of George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Liana Paredes offers a richly detailed examination of French-inspired interior decoration in the homes of Washington’s elite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Cynthia R. Field concludes the volume with a consideration of the influence of Paris on city planning in Washington, D.C., including the efforts of the McMillan Commission and the later development of the Federal Triangle complex.

The essays in this collection, the latest addition to the series Perspectives on the Art and Architectural History of the United States Capitol, originated in a conference held by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society in 2002 at the French Embassy’s Maison Française.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

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Preface

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pp. ix-13

The essays in this collection, the latest addition to the series on Perspectives on the Art and Architectural History of the United States Capitol, originated in a conference held by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society in 2002 at the French Embassy’s La Maison...

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The French Connection in Washington, D.C.: Context and Issues

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pp. 1-35

If an account of the French artistic presence in the United States is of little value without multiple references to the nation’s capital, a narrow focus on “Paris on the Potomac” would be equally sterile. This essay takes us on a journey through three periods when French ideas about...

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Remembering Paris: The Jefferson-Latrobe Collaboration at the Capitol

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pp. 36-55

One of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the Capitol involves the collaboration between America’s most architecturally sophisticated president, Thomas Jefferson, and the first genius to practice architecture in America, Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Their association at the Capitol began in 1803 and flourished...

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“The Son by the Side of the Father”: David d’Angers’s Busts of Washington and Lafayette in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol

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pp. 56-76

About 1827, the great nineteenth-century French portrait sculptor Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856) produced a bust of George Washington, probably in marble, which was presented to the United States by the French nation in late 1827 or 1828. The French costs related to the bust were funded through national...

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Private Homes, Public Lives: Francophilia among Government Officers and the Washington Elite

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pp. 77-116

After the Civil War, Washington, D.C., experienced an economic expansion that triggered a period of feverish building and configured the small urban center as a residential city par excellence. A concerted effort on the part of the territorial and federal governments made the city primarily the seat of government...

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Interpreting the Influence of Paris on the Planning of Washington, D.C., 1870–1930

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pp. 117-137

In 1910, John Merven Carrère, a Parisian-trained American architect whom we shall meet later as a consulting architect of the U.S. Capitol complex, wrote an article stating that “learning from Paris made Washington outstanding among American...

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Appendix: Architects and the French Connection in Washington, D.C.

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pp. 139-155

The following listing of designers and architectural offices active in Washington, D.C. (including members of the Commission of Fine Arts), with a French affiliation and a checklist of their French-influenced works in Washington, D.C., is presented in four sections: the first lists those who received the...

Contributors

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pp. 157-171

Index

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pp. 159-164


E-ISBN-13: 9780821442395
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821417607

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Perspective On Art & Architect