Étienne-Louis Boullée

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Proposal for the Cénotaphe à Newton [Newton Memorial], interior, 1784.

Étienne-Louis Boullée (February 12, 1728 – February 4, 1799) was a visionary French neoclassical architect whose work is still influential today.

"Boullée, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux and Jean-Jacques Lequeu were each architects and thinkers whose ideas reflected some of the most radical strains of liberal bourgeois philosophy, with its cult of reason and devotion to the triplicate ideals of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. The structures they imagined and city plans they proposed were undeniably some of the most ambitious and revolutionary of their time. At their most fantastic, the buildings they envisioned were absolutely unbuildable — either according to the technical standards of their day or arguably even of our own." [1]



  • Considérations sur l'importance et l'utilité de l'architecture, suivies de vues tendant au progrès des beaux-arts, manuscript, Bibliothèque nationale de France. (French)
  • Architecture. Essai sur l'art, manuscript, Bibliothèque nationale de France, 1794. (French)
    • Boullée's Treatise on Architecture, ed. Helen Rosenau, London: Alec Tiranti, 1953. (English)
    • Architettura. Saggio sull'arte, trans. & intro. Aldo Rossi, Padova: Marsillio, 1967. (Italian)
    • "Architecture, Essay on Art", trans. Sheila de Vallée, in Boullée & Visionary Architecture, ed. Helen Rosenau, London: Academy Editions & New York: Harmony Books, 1976, pp 81-116. (English)
    • Arquitectura: Ensayo sobre el arte, trans. Carlos Manuel Fuentes, Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1985. (Spanish)
    • Architektur. Abhandlung über die Kunst, ed. Beat Wyss, Zürich/Munich, 1987. (German)
  • Mémoire sur les moyens de procurer à la Bibliothèque du roi les avantages que ce monument exige, manuscript, Bibliothèque nationale de France. (French)


  • Emil Kaufmann, "Étienne-Louis Boullée", The Art Bulletin 21:3 (September 1939), pp 213-227.
  • Emil Kaufmann, Three Revolutionary Architects: Boullée, Ledoux, and Lequeu, Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1952.
    • Trois architectes révolutionnaires, Boullée, Ledoux, Lequeu, Paris, 1978. (French)
  • Emil Kaufmann, Architecture in the Age of Reason, Cambridge, 1955.
  • Jean-Claude Lemagny (ed.), Visionary Architects: Boullée, Ledoux, Lequeu, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1968. Catalogue. New edition: Hennessey & Ingalls, 2002.
  • Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos, Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799: Theoretician of Revolutionary Architecture), George Braziller, 1974, 128 pp.
  • Helen Rosenau (ed.), Boullée & Visionary Architecture, London: Academy Editions & New York: Harmony Books, 1976.
  • Adolf Max Vogt, Radka Donnell, Kenneth Bendiner, "Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' and Etienne-Louis Boullee's Drafts of 1784", The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 43:1 (March 1984), pp 60-64.
  • Annie Jacques, Jean-Pierre Mouilleseaux, Les Architectes de la Liberté, Paris: Gallimard, 1988, 196 pp. (French)
  • Les Architectes de la liberté, 1789-1799, Paris: École nationale des beaux-arts, 1989, 396 pp. Catalogue. (French)
  • Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos, Boullée, architecte visionnaire, Hermann, 1993. (French)
  • Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos, Étienne-Louis Boullée, Paris: Flammarion,‎ 1994, 287 pp. (French)
  • Jean-Claude Lemagny, Visionary Architects: Boullée, Ledoux, Lequeu, Hennessey & Ingalls, 2002.
  • Ross Wolfe, "Revolutionary precursors: Radical bourgeois architects in the age of reason and revolution", The Charnel-House blog, 25 June 2011.


  • The Belly of an Architect, dir. Peter Greenaway, 1987.