The façade of St. Roch, Paris (erected 1736-1738), the last major work by Robert de Cotte, is often viewed as anomalous in an oeuvre devoted almost exclusively to the design of secular buildings. However, the recent discovery in Paris of certain drawings and related documents from de Cotte's studio (Bibliothèque Nationale; Archives Nationales; Bibliothèque de l'Institut) makes it clear that he confronted the problem of the Italianate ecclesiastical façade throughout his career, although only a few of the commissions were actually carried out. The various solutions, while rooted in French tradition, betray a strong interest in Italian church portals of the Late Renaissance and Baroque. The notes and drawings made by the architect during his Italian sojourn of 1689-1690 confirm this interest. A chronological review of the projects reveals that the design for the St. Roch portal was closely related to de Cotte's earlier experiments for church façades in Paris, Dijon, and Orléans; the Premier Architecte relied particularly on precedents set by Jules Hardouin Mansart, as well as on his own unexecuted project for St. Louis de Versailles (1724).
- Copyright 1985 The Society of Architectural Historians