Felibien, Andre

FELIBIEN, ANDRE (1610-1695), sieur des Avaux et de Javercy, French architect and historiographer, was born at Chartres in May 1619. At the age of fourteen he went to Paris to continue his studies; and in 1647 he was sent to Rome in the capacity of secretary of embassy to the Marquis de Marueil. His residence at Rome he turned to good account by diligent study of its ancient monuments, by examination of the literary treasures of its libraries, and by cultivating the acquaintance of men eminent in literature and in art, with whom he was brought into contact through his translation of Cardinal Barberini's Life of Pius V. Among his friends was Nicholas Poussin, whose counsels were of great value to him. On his return to France he married, and was ultimately induced, in the hope of employment and honours, to settle in Paris. Both Fouquet and Colbert in their turn recognized his abilities; and he was one of the first members (1663) of the Academy of Inscriptions. Three years later Colbert procured him the appointment of historiographer to the king. In 1671 he was named secretary to the newly-founded Academy of Architecture, and in 1673 keeper of the cabinet of antiques in the palace of Brion. To these offices was afterwards added by Louvois that of deputy controller-general of roads and bridges. Félibien found time in the midst of his official duties for study and research, and produced many literary works. Among these the best and the most generally known is the Entretiens sur les vies et sur les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes, which appeared in successive livraisons, the first in 1666, and the fifth in 1688. It was republished with several additions at Amsterdam in 1706, and again at Trévoux in 1725. Félibien wrote also Origine de la peinture (1660), Principes de l'architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, etc. (1676-1690), and descriptions of Versailles, of La Trappe, and of the pictures and statues of the royal residences. Among other literary works, he edited the Conférences of the Academy of Painting, and translated the Castle of the Soul from the Spanish of St Theresa. His personal character commanded the highest esteem, agreeing with the motto which he adopted - Bene facere et vera dicere. He died in Paris on the 11th of June 1695.

His son, Jean François Félibien (c.1658-1733), was also an architect who left a number of works on his subject; and a younger son, Michel Félibien (c.1666-1719), was a Benedictine of Saint Germain-des-Prés whose fame rests on his Histoire de l'abbaye royale de S. Denys en France, and also his L'Histoire de la ville de Paris in 5 vols., a work indispensable to the student of Paris.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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