Even though the book De la distribution des maison de plaisance vol. 1 implies with its title that it teaches us about the theory of “maisons de plaisance”, which are smaller but very noble castles, the book cover does not look decorated at all. It is a plain brown cover which is rather boring than appealing. But as soon as one opens the book a very detailed historical drawing catches the eye.
These detailed drawings accompany the reader throughout the whole book. But they don’t just appear on random pages. The author was following a strict concept when to place which image. The different chapters are structured as follows:
Every new chapter is introduced by a title page. The title pages consist of a title which tells the reader what they can expect from the chapter. But before the observer can read the title, a drawing above it catches their eye. The once again very detailed image shows a decoration which will be a reoccurring theme in the following chapter. At the bottom of the page the reader can also find a short summary of the next pages.
Each of these chapters is divided into sub-chapters. The sub-chapters do not have general titles like the chapters do, they are sorted by numbers and have a detailed subtitle. Next a few pages of text follow. On these pages the reader will not find any images, solely text. Every now and then a drawing will fill two whole pages. The drawings have the purpose of teaching the reader something. The images in the book never stand out of context or have the sole purpose of being a pleasure for the eye. All the images either consist of floor plans which showcase all of the different rooms and imposing gardens a “maison de plaisance” includes, or they teach the reader something about the façades and their decorations. All the images are perfectly developed and do not have any flaws. You will not find any sketches or unfinished drawings.
The reader will never find text and drawings on the same page. The two ways of expression are separated. Maybe Blondel has chosen this kind of structuring so that the reader can concentrate on the theory they are learning in the text and then separately observe the implementation in the drawings. Blondel guides the reader through the book and helps them understand the content. In my opinion it is very important that the author guides the reader through a theoretical book and has a clear structure in mind when writing it. That way the reader comprehends the book exactly how the author intended.
Keywords: structured, intended, guided