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Lavedan, Pierre

    Full Name: Lavedan, Pierre

    Other Names:

    • Pierre-Louis-Léon Lavedan

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1885

    Date Died: 1982

    Place Born: Boulogne-sur-Seine, France

    Place Died: Malakoff, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: France

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), Modern (style or period), sculpture (visual works), and urban design


    Professor of the history of modern art at the Sorbonne (1942 – 1955); scholar of the history of urban architecture. Lavedan attended high school (Lycée) at Roanne, Chartres, and Paris (Lyceé Henri IV). He then studied at the école Normale Supérieure and at the école Pratique des Hautes études, graduating in 1909 (agrégé d’histoire). He taught as a high school teacher in lycées in Limoges and in Reims. During World War I he served in the French army. In 1919 he traveled to Greece to become the head of an educative mission of the Greek government, while also being professor at the Institut d’études françaises in Athens. There he wrote his first article on urban history: Un problème d’urbanisme: la reconstruction de Salonique, appearing in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in 1922. He returned to France the previous year where he obtained a teaching position at the University of Toulouse. In 1926 Lavedan gained the degree of docteur ès-lettres with a thesis on the history of urban architecture from antiquity to the middle-ages, which was published the same year, the first part of the series Histoire de l’urbanisme. In 1926, too, he published his secondary thesis: Qu’est-ce que l’urbanisme? Introduction à l’histoire de l’urbanisme. After teaching at the University of Montpellier, he began his career at the Sorbonne in 1929. He first taught the history of art of Catalone, in which field he published L’architecture gothique religieuse en Catalogne, Valence et Baléares (1935). From 1939 to 1955 he held the position of professor of the history of modern art, succeeding René Schneider. In 1940 he received the additional appointment of professor of the general history of architecture at the école Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. In 1941 he published the second volume of Histoire de l’urbanisme: Renaissance et temps modernes. In 1942, he became the director of the Institut d’Urbanisme de l’Université de Paris, which position he held until 1965. His general survey of French architecture appeared in 1944, and, between 1944 and 1949, his two-volume Histoire de l’art was published. In the post-war period Lavedan, an advocate for the preservation of the French heritage, was involved in urban reconstruction. The third part of his Histoire de l’urbanisme: époque contemporaine, appeared in 1952. This broad survey deals with various aspects of the history of town planning from the reign of Napoleon until the Second World War, from Paris to cities all over the world. It provides a great deal of information on town planning in the United States, including the cities of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Lavedan retired from the Sorbonne in 1955 and was succeeded by André Chastel, of whom he did not approve to occupy the position. Between 1966 and 1982, revised editions of his urban history series appeared co-authored with Jeanne Hugueney and Philippe Henrat. A number of Lavedan’s work focus on the urban history of Paris. Lavedan died in relative obscurity in 1982, no leading newspapers observing his death. In his study, Qu’est-ce que l’urbanisme?, Lavedan defines his work as the study and documentation of city planning, which includes the city’s material layout and organization in relation with sociological, economical, and geographical factors. While the French word urbanisme in his view encompasses a number of aspects extending beyond art history, he specifies his own field of research as a new chapter of the general history of art: a history of urban architecture. His studies document the history and development of city plans and are richly illustrated. Lavedan’s oeuvre was used by a number of scholars in the 1990s and 2000s. In 2005 his Histoire de l’urbanisme was the topic of a Ph.D. dissertation by Isabelle Grudet (Université de Paris-VIII).

    Selected Bibliography

    [complete bibliography :] Pinon, Pierre. Pierre Lavedan, de l’histoire de l’art à l’architecture urbaine Le Visiteur 2 (1996): 112-128; [dissertation:] Histoire de l’architecture urbaine. Antiquité – Moyen âge. University of Paris, 1926, published, Paris: H. Laurens, 1926; Histoire de l’urbanisme. Antiquité – Moyen âge. Paris: H. Laurens, 1926; Qu’est-ce que l’urbanisme? Introduction à l’histoire de l’urbanisme. Paris: H. Laurens, 1926; Dictionnaire illustré de la mythologie et des antiquités grecques et romaines. Paris: Hachette, 1931; L’architecture gothique religieuse en Catalogne, Valence et Baléares. Paris, H. Laurens, 1935; Palma de Majorque et les îles Baléares. Paris, H. Laurens, 1936; Histoire de l’urbanisme. Renaissance et temps modernes. Paris: H. Laurens, 1941; L’architecture française. Paris: Larousse, 1944, English, French Architecture. London: Pelican Books, 1956; Histoire de l’art. 2 vols., vol. 1., and Besques, Simone. Antiquité, 2. Moyen âge et temps modernes. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1944-1949; Histoire de l’urbanisme. époque contemporaine. Paris: H. Laurens, 1952; Représentation des villes dans l’art du moyen âge. Paris: Van Oest, 1953; Urbanisme et architecture. études écrites et publiées en l’honneur de Pierre Lavedan. Livres et articles consacrés à l’architecture et à l’histoire de l’urbanisme par Pierre Lavedan. Paris: H. Laurens, 1954; and Hugueney, Jeanne. Histoire de l’urbanisme. Antiquité. Paris: H. Laurens, 1966; and Hugueney, Jeanne. L’urbanisme au Moyen âge. Paris: Arts et métiers graphiques, 1974; and Hugueney, Jeanne, and Henrat, Philippe. L’urbanisme à l’époque moderne: XVIe-XVIIIe siècles. Paris: Arts et métiers graphiques, 1982.


    Dictionnaire biographique contemporain. (1954-1955), p. 389-390; Charle, C. Dictionnaire biographique des universités. Faculté des lettres de Paris, 1809-1939. 2 (1966), p.126-128; Cohen, Jean-Louis. L’ ‘architecture urbaine’ selon Pierre Lavedan Les cahiers de la recherche architecturale 32-33 (1993); Pinon, Pierre. Pierre Lavedan, de l’histoire de l’art à l’architecture urbaine Le Visiteur 2 (1996): 112-128; Aboulker, Delphine. Quelques éléments biographiques Institut national de l’histoire de l’art, 2003,; Masson, D. “Lavedan, Pierre.” Dictionnaire de biographie française 115 (2003), p. 45.


    "Lavedan, Pierre." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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