Contents and Arrangement

Néris-les-Bains Roman Ruins Notes, undated

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of course planning materials, manuscripts for an illustrated treatise on art and design, speech drafts, drawings, and other writings and illustrations of French professional designer and art teacher Claude-Henri Dufour (1766-1845), related to an art course he developed and taught at l'École Centrale d'Allier in the Auvergne region of central France around the time of the French Revolution. Materials pertaining to Dufour's teaching account for the majority of the collection, comprising outlines, preparatory materials, notes, and justifications for the course, manuscripts and drawings related to an accompanying illustrated art and design textbook that was never published, and other documents elaborating on his teaching philosophies, the organization of the art school, building plans for schools and museums, and his arguments in favor of the usefulness of art education. An outline describes the course's contents, which consist of: Part I, covering the elements of design, perspective, and the balance of bodies ("De la ponderation ou équilibre des corps"); Part II, on the human figure, proportion, anatomy, and aesthetics ("De la Beauté et de la Grâce"); and Part III, on composition. In several of his writings, Dufour proposes an unrealized fourth part, which would deal with landscapes, animals, architecture, flowers, and ornamental design, which he claims would be essential for young artists working in the textile manufacturing and decorative ironwork fields; however, only a few drafts and notes exist for this section. Manuscripts for the treatise are most complete for the first two parts of the course and feature frequent sketches and illustrations intended as figures to demonstrate the principles described in the text, including geometrical designs, anatomical sketches, and cross-hatching examples.

These documents provide insight into a pragmatic approach towards the teaching of art and design around the time of the French Revolution by an ardent republican who was keen to promote the value of design education in provincial France in the early years of industrial design. Dufour's related writings also draw connections between the utility of art and the French national identity, as seen in his discourses on the effects of the art of drawing on the people and in his arguments against Latin inscriptions on French monuments. His interest in architecture and natural history is also apparent in his various architectural drawings and plans, notes in preparation for a visit to the Roman baths at Néris-le-Bains near Moulin, preliminary plans for an illustrated work on natural history based on the methods of Maria Sybilla Merian, and his notes on Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

Nothing was removed from the collection during 2015 processing.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Néris-les-Bains Roman Ruins Notes; Claude-Henri Dufour Art Course Materials, C1507, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1

Find More