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Lemaire, Raymond Marie, Baron

    Full Name: Lemaire, Raymond Marie, Baron

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1921

    Date Died: 1997

    Place Born: Uccle, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium

    Place Died: Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Brussels, Belgium

    Home Country/ies: Belgium

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), conservation (discipline), conservation (process), and sculpture (visual works)


    Architectural historian; leading expert in conservation; advisor to the European Union, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO; professor of the history of architecture at the Catholic University of Louvain. Lemaire’s father, Herman Lemaire (1883-1947) was an architect. In 1942 Lemaire graduated in history, art history, and archaeology at the Catholic University of Louvain where his uncle, Professor Raymond A. G. Lemaire (1878-1954), taught in the field of architecture and conservation. In the footsteps of the latter, Lemaire specialized in medieval architecture and, from 1947, he began his academic career at his Alma Mater teaching religious architecture, restoration, and later also the history of architecture. In 1949 he earned his doctoral degree at Louvain University with a dissertation on the origins of gothic architecture in Brabant, La formation du style gothique brabançon. Like his uncle he combined his work as university professor with activities in the field of the conservation and restoration of monuments. He was co-author of the 1964 Venice Charter, a statement of principles for the work of architectural conservators and restorers all over the world. In the same period Louvain University commissioned Lemaire to restore the former Romanesque St. Lambertus Church (in Heverlee), which he successfully converted into a modern chapel. In 1965 he was the co-founder of the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). He served as its first Secretary General and, from 1975 to 1981, as its President. From 1967 onward, he was the special adviser to the UNESCO’s Director General and Representative for the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem. He headed this complicated mission from 1971 until almost the end of his life. He was a member of many other committees and conservation missions all over the world, including those dealing with the Borobudur Temple, the Athens Acropolis, the Tower of Pisa, and many other sites. In his native country he was the director of the restoration of historic quarters, such as the Groot Begijnhof (Grand Béguinage) of Louvain (1964-1971), and of the restoration of several medieval churches. He also headed the inventory project of the historic monuments of Belgium. His important work in the field of urban planning included the lay out of the city of Louvain-la-Neuve, where the new campus of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) was established in the 1970s, after its separation from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL). From 1970 to 1986 Lemaire held a professorship at the UCL. In 1976, within the framework of the Bruges College of Europe, he established an international conservation center, which, since 1981, became part of the post-initial master’s program of the Faculty of Engineering of the KUL, named the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (RLICC). In Rome, he was professor at the International Center for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments (ICCROM). The archives of Lemaire’s office, including numerous architectural drawings, are kept in the Central Library of the KUL, while his slides are kept in the RLICC. Lemaire was an internationally acclaimed specialist in the field of the preservation and restoration of monuments. As an art historian he thoroughly understood how to combine his scholarship and his architectural insights with the modern ethics and the practice of restoration. His students admired him, among other things, for his remarkable skill to instantaneously draw plans and elevations during his inspiring lectures.

    Selected Bibliography

    La formation du style gothique brabançon. 1. Les églises de l’ancien quartier de Louvain. Antwerp: De Nederlandsche Boekhandel, 1949; De romaanse bouwkunst in de Nederlanden. Brussels: Paleis der Academiën,1952; L’architecture gothique in Fierens, P., ed. L’art en Belgique du moyen âge à nos jours. Brussels: La Renaissance du Livre, 1957, pp. 67-100; Bouwkunst in Gids voor de kunst in België. Utrecht/Antwerpen: Het Spectrum, 1964, pp. 11-74; and Van Thielen, R., Génicot, L.-F, and Matthys, A. L’infirmerie du Grand Béguinage de Louvain Bulletin Koninklijke Commissie voor Monumenten en Landschappen 16 (1965-1966); La rénovation des villes historiques. Un cas concret : le grand béguinage à Louvain Handelingen van de Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen 74 (1970): 22-34; and others. Inventaris van het cultuurbezit in Vlaanderen. Architectuur. 1. Provincie Brabant, Arrondissement Leuven., 2. Provincie Brabant, Arrondissement Nijvel. Liège: Soledi, 1971, 1974; and others. Le patrimoine monumental de la Belgique [Wallonie]. 23 vols. Liège: Soledi, 1971- ; and Sorlin, François and Gazzola, Piero. Rescue Operation, the Face of Europe. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 1973; and Van Balen, K. Stable – Unstable? Structural Consolidation of Ancient Buildings. Louvain: Leuven University Press, 1988; and Tessier, Luc and others. Oltre il restauro: architetture tra conservazione e riuso: progetti e realizzazioni di Andrea Bruno (1960-1995) = Restoration and beyond: architecture from conservation to conversion: projects and works by Andrea Bruno (1960-1995). Milan: Lybra immagine, 1996; and Barthélemy, J. and Geerts, M.-J. ICOMOS: un regard en arrière, un coup d’oeil en avant. (Dossier de la Commission Royale des Monuments, Sites et Fouilles, nr. 5). Liège: Ministère de la Région wallonne, 1999.


    The World of Conservation: an Interview with Raymond Lemaire Monumenten en Landschappen (1983): 83-100; Woitrin, M. Louvain-la-Neuve et Louvain-en-Woluwe: le grand dessein. Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1987; Hulde aan professor Raymond Lemaire: Speciale editie van ICOMOS België. Brussels: ICOMOS, Belgisch Comité, 1997; Delzenne, Yves-William and Houyoux, Jean. Le Nouveau Dictionnaire des Belges de 1830 à nos jours. Brussels: Le Cri, 1998, p. 61; Van Aerschot, Suzanne and Heyrman, Michiel. Flemish Béguinages, World Heritage. Louvain: Davidsfonds, 2001; De Houwer, Veerle. Krabbel voor het glas in lood: ordenen en beschrijven van architectuur- en atelierarchieven. Bibliotheek- & Archiefgids 78 (2002)2: 3-12; Van Loo, Anne., ed. Repertorium van de architectuur in België van 1830 tot heden. Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 2003, p. 393-394; [obituaries:] Van Aerschot, Suzanne. Monumenten en Landschappen (1997); Solar, Giora. Raymond Lemaire Remembered Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter 12.3, Fall 1997,


    "Lemaire, Raymond Marie, Baron." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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