New Book | Living with Architecture as Art

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 11, 2021

The exhibition is scheduled to open this spring, with the catalogue now available via Paul Holberton Publishing:

Architectural Training and Practice in Paris in the 19th and Early 20th Century:
Selected French Drawings from the Peter May Collection
New-York Historical Society, 9 April — 13 June 2021

Living with Architecture as Art: The Peter May Collection of Architectural Drawings, Models, and Artefacts (London: Ad Ilissum, 2021), 2 vols., 352 pages each, ISBN: 978-1912168194, £260 / $325.

Introduction by the collector peter may; catalogue by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger; essays by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, Charles Hind, Basile Baudez, Matthew Wells; afterwords by architect Mark Ferguson and interior designer Bunny Williams.

This stunning two-volume publication introduces readers to one of the largest private collections of architectural drawings in the world. Showcasing drawings and related models and artefacts dating from 1691 to the mid 20th century, this lavish tome includes both a catalogue and new texts by leading authorities and provides a fascinating look at these often very beautiful by-products of architectural training and practice.

One of the largest private collections of architectural drawings in the world has been assembled over 30 years by investor and philanthropist Peter May. Comprising more than 600 sheets that have all been carefully preserved and handsomely framed, the drawings and related models and artefacts date from 1691 to the mid 20th century. This handsome two-volume publication will introduce amateurs and specialists alike to the largely unknown collection. The book includes a catalogue and innovative texts by leading authorities that present the raison-d’être for the production and preservation of these sometimes neglected by-products of architectural training and practice that have been collected off-and-on through history by individuals and institutions.

The architectural sheets acquired for the collection are principally 19th- or early 20th-century competition or certification drawings by design students. Others are presentation drawings for public commissions, reconstruction studies or interior designs. The catalogue is arranged by category, to demonstrate May’s inclination towards specific building types such as commercial or cultural institutions, train stations and spas, landmarks and monuments, private and royal residences, and cast-iron architecture. Also included is a category for landscape designs and garden architecture, reflecting May’s experience as a gentleman farmer with a predilection for building.

Peter May informs the reader about his history as a collector and builder. Maureen Cassidy-Geiger discusses the formation of the collection and with Basile Baudez introduces the French system of architectural education, from which some of the finest drawings come. Charles Hind offers a history of design training in Britain and writes about patterns of collecting and the market for architectural drawings. Matthew Wells’s subject is the history of architectural models.

Maureen Cassidy-Geiger is a curator and scholar with special expertise in European decorative arts, patterns of collecting and display and the history of architecture, court culture, gardening and travel. Her most recent book on architecture was The Philip Johnson Glass House: An architect in the Garden (Rizzoli, 2016). Charles Hind, FSA, is Chief Curator of Drawings at RIBA in London. A Palladio specialist, he was with Sotheby’s, 1986–93, as their expert in architectural drawings and British watercolors. Basile Baudez is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University, previously at Paris-Sorbonne University, University of Pennsylvania and at the Pratt Institute. Matthew Wells is Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) in Zurich. His dissertation “Architectural Models and the Professional Practice of the Architect, 1834–1916” was awarded the Theodor-Fischer Prize from the Zentralinstituts für Kunstgeschichte in Munich.


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