The book «mémoires sur les objects les plus importants de l’architecture » by M.Patte was published in 1769 in midst of the enlightenment (1720-1800), during the time of the publication of the famous 35 editions of the French “Encyclopédie”. The book by M.Patte is a collection of the most important aspects of architecture, a collection of knowledge, you could almost regard it as an encyclopedia of French architecture. The book consists of eight chapters, each of them dealing with a specific aspect which according to Patte, architects should be familiar with. Ranging from urban development strategies, proportions of the ancient orders and precise descriptions of existing buildings and how specific elements were constructed, all the way to specific instructions as to how public, and private buildings, docks and bridges are/ should be created.
The book in many ways reminded me of the ten books of Vitruvius. Their structures are quite alike. The individual chapters in Patte’s book are similar to one book of Vitruvius. Furthermore, the contents of these chapters closely resemble the contents of Vitruvius’ ten books. For example, the first book of Vitruvius dealt with town planning, architecture or civil engineering in general, and the qualifications required of an architect or civil engineer. Patte’s first Chapter has the title: « Considerations sur la distribution vicieuse des Villes, & sur les moyens de rectifier les inconvéniens auxquels elles sont sujettes. », whilst the third chapter stands under the title of : « Instructions pour un jeune Architecte sur la construction des bâtiments »
Vitruvius as well as Patte both dedicated their work to their patron, Patte to Louis XV and Vitruvius to Caesar Augustus. The book of Patte therefore also shows the interest of the rulers at the time, in science, antiquity and making knowledge more accessible through the means of books, texts and treaties. The encyclopedia was a very popular tool to present the scientific progress of a nation and furthermore was a way to signify the power and influence of a ruler.
Many new sciences were acknowledged as their own discipline. Architecture really benefited from these scientific progresses like for example structural engineering. These are therefore also proudly presented in the book. The imagination of what an architect should embody was also changing during that time. The view of an architect being an all arounder with knowledge in many different scientific fields, as the ancients (Vitruvius) regarded it, was becoming more and more popular, which also raised the necessity of architectural academies, which are also praised during the introduction of the book.