Stories of Restoration

Viollet-le-Duc versus Ruskin?

Alfonso Muñoz Cosme 

Viollet-le-Duc, Vista resturada del frigarium de las Termas de Caracalla

A major exhibition in Paris commemorates the second centenary of the birth of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879). A great architect and theorist of architecture, he studied medieval architecture and came to possess extensive knowledge thereof, putting it into numerous publications. Scientific development in the 19th century, with disciplines like the comparative anatomy and paleontology of Georges Cuvier, made him think of the possibility of compiling a taxonomy of architecture and reconstructing evolutional changes of a style. This is what led him to say: “To restore a building is not to take care of it, repair it, or remake it, but to return it to a finished state which may in fact never have actually existed.” His work on monuments began with the Church of La Madelaine de Vézelay and continued with the intervention in Notre-Dame de Paris, Saint-Sernin de Toulouse, the walls of Carcasonne, and the castle of Pierrefonds. In his interventions he used a neo-Gothic language, often inserting it in an old work without differentiation, which was widely criticized...

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