Programme ANR-DFG “Architrave”

Duration: 2017-2020

Bi-national French-German programme “Art and Architecture in German Travel Accounts to Paris and Versailles in the Baroque Era” (Architrave) carried out by the Center for Studies and Research in Cultural History of the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne (CERHIC), the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles, the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art (DFK) in Paris (Deutsche Forum für Kunstgeschichte) and the Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek in Göttingen.

The programme ANR-DFG “Architrave” aims at scrutinizing the content of six substantial German travel accounts dating from 1685 to 1723, the earliest hitherto known, in which profound and reasoned judgements and opinions on French art and architecture have been rendered. These manuscripts and printed documents out of German public collections are partly unpublished and have never been investigated as a whole.

The following sources will be treated:

>  Christoph Pitzler (1657-1707), Reysebeschreibung durch Teutschland, Holland [...] Frankreich [...], 1685-1688, p. 46-217 [Book with some missing pages], Potsdam, Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten, Graphische Sammlung (manuscript).
>  Ferdinand Bonaventure I comte d’Harrach (1637-1706), Tagebuch des Grafen Ferdinand Bonaventura I. von Harrach vom Jahre 1687 und 1698, p. 456-509, Vienne, Österreichisches Hauptstaatsarchiv (manuscript).
>  Leonhard Christoph Sturm (1669-1719), Architectonische Reise-Anmerkungen [...], Augsburg: J. Wolffen, 1719, p. 48-132, Los Angeles, The Getty Research Institute (GRI), Research Library (printed book).
>  Christian Friedrich Gottlieb von dem Knesebeck (av. 1680-apr. 1727), Beschreibung einer Reise von Braunschweig durch Holland nach Frankreich, vers 1699, Rostock, Universitätsbibliothek (manuscript).
>  Lambert Friedrich Corfey (1668-1733), Reisetagebuch 1698-1700, p. 1-190, Münster, Landesarchiv Nordrhein Westfalen (manuscript).
>  Johann Balthasar Neumann (1687-1753), Briefe der Reise nach Frankreich 1722-1723, Würzburg, Staatsarchiv (manuscript).

The core objective of the programme is to contribute to a better understanding of the modes of appreciation of an alien culture in the baroque era. Even if drawn by an inquisitive admiration, German travellers have shown long before the height of the Enlightenment a critical distance towards French art and culture. It has not yet been investigated enough to what extent the contact with French culture contributed to the development of such a faculty of independent judgement, stabilizing (and even reinforcing) inner German schemes of apprehension. Moreover, the sceptical attitude commonly discernible in these documents compared here for the first time seems to have been a fertile soil for the development of a new aesthetic paradigm at the turn of the century. Indeed, artistic eclecticism, which had emerged in the Renaissance, still prevailed. It based judgements on art on the ability of the artist to imitate and, at the best, to emulate universally appraised historical samples. But around 1700, first signs of a loosening of this paradigm became discernible, giving more space to an appreciation of individual achievements and creative genius. The part German travellers to France played in this subversive and emancipatory process will have to be investigated.

Also in regard to their literary qualities and linguistic specificities, the texts to be analysed here seem to belong to a transitory period. Research has hitherto held the view that only since the height of the Enlightenment the abilities of the travellers to formulate individual appraisals of art works, implicating a deliberately private and partial point of view, emerged. But even if in the late 17th century the traditional descriptive mode still prevailed, aiming at an allegedly objective and integral account of the art works seen, one already observes a growing ability of the travellers to focus on single aspects following their individual interests, and to express their emotions sensed.

It is obvious that the travel accounts constitute precious factual sources too. They will not only help to better understand the appearance of numerous buildings and their interior decorations modified or destroyed by time, as well as their contemporary uses and functions. They will also provide information about the accessibility of certain fortifications, palaces, gardens, etc. and the permission to study them. The cross-case analysis of the sources can give precious indications about the personal networks tourists had to mobilise to organise their visits.

Besides merginge the knowledge of French specialists on Paris and Versailles under Louis XIV with the acquaintance of their German colleagues with the chosen sources, this programme will also demonstrate the capacities of a computer-based treatment of the texts to generate innovative and reliable ways of exploring and researching them.

See the presentation of the project on the Agence nationale de la recherche web site.

Read the Interview with Hendrik Ziegler, “Architrave” project director.


Project’s director: Hendrik Ziegler, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History, Philipps-Universität Marburg.

Representatives of the partner institutions:

  • Wolfram Horstmann, Director, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen
  • Thomas Kirchner, Director, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris,
  • Alexandre Maral, Director, Centre de recherche du château de Versaille
  • Mathieu da Vinha, Scientific Director, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles

Project team:

  • Mirjam Blümm, Deputy Director, Departement Research and Development, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen (Since 2018),
  • Florian Dölle, Researcher in Art History, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Axelle Janiak, Researcher and TEI expert, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Christoph Kudella, coordinator of the digital editions, Departement Research and Development, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen
  • Markus Matoni, IT engeneer, Departement Research and Development, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen,
  • Chloé Menut, Scientific Assistant and multimedia agent, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Marion Müller, Researcher in Art History, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris (from May 2017 to June 2018),
  • Alexandra Pioch, Scientific publications coordinator, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles,
  • Stefan Schmunk, Deputy Director, Departement Research and Development, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen (2017),
  • Sibylle Söring, digital projects manager, Departement Research and Development, Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen (2017),
  • Thorsten Wübbena, Research Director, Department Digital Humanities, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris.


  • Study days “Between reality and fiction: travel stories as a full-fledged artistic and literary genre” at the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art (DFK Paris) on 22 and 23 November 2018. Online Communications on the Centre de Recherche sur la Littérature des Voyages (CRLV).
  • Translation in French of the six manuscripts in German baroque language constituting the corpus of the project.
  • Put online the blog “Destination Versailles. Voyager en France au tournant du XVIIIᵉ siècle” related to the project (in French):

Productions planned

  • Scientific meeting: “Accessibility to art works in Paris and its surroundings in late 17th and early 18th century” (Centre de recherche du château de Versailles, 23 and 24 November 2017).
    PDF - 4.5 Mb
    Programme (in French)
  • An enriched and interactively searchable bilingual digital critical edition of the six sources will be produced via Open Access.


As part of this program, one position is to be filled:

PDF - 115 kb
Job description (in French)
Website produced with the support of:
Château de Versailles
Conseil général des Yvelines