A Civic Utopia: Architecture and the City in France, 1765–1837
8 October 2016 8 January 2017

Drawing Matter in collaboration with The Courtauld Gallery presents: A Civic Utopia. Architecture and the City in France, 1765–1837.

This exhibition considers the place of architecture in establishing the notion of public life. It brings together an outstanding selection of architectural drawings of public building and public space in France that pursued the Enlightenment idea of a ‘scientific’ city, expressing rational, hygienic and symbolic expressions of an ideal civic life.

Focusing on the spaces of everyday life rather than grand and largely unbuilt urban schemes, the display will feature drawings for a wide range of new public buildings and settings, including city markets, exchange halls, prisons, parks, abattoirs, hospitals and cemeteries.

This exhibition is organised by Drawing Matter in collaboration with The Courtauld Gallery as part of  UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility, Somerset House’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia. It is curated by Nicholas Olsberg and Basile Baudez.

For more on the content of the exhibition see the Topic A Civic Utopia.

Civ Ut Courtauld exb photo 8

Image courtesy of the Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London/Richard Valencia


Civic Utopia Cover

A Civic Utopia: Architecture and the City in France, 1765–1837.

To coincide with the exhibition we have published a large format, finely illustrated book, A Civic Utopia: Architecture and the City in France, 1765–1837. It is available to purchase online at £20 , or for £15 at the Courtauld Gallery of Art for the duration of the exhibition.

In addition to the ‘Introduction’ by the authors, the book contains an essay entitled ‘Law, Order and the Beautiful’ by Nicholas Olsberg and ‘Case Studies’ by Basile Baudez. The essay explores the Enlightenment themes: A New Rome, Porta, Ratio, Lex, Sanitas, Spectaculum, Lexicon and Exemplum. The case studies examine the work of Louis Combes, Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine, André Sainte-Marie Châtillon, Paul Piot, François-Joseph Bélanger,  François-Joseph Bélanger and Louis-Pierre Baltard.