HITTORFF, Jacques-Ignace
(b. 1792, Köln, d. 1867, Paris)

Biography

German-born French architect and archeologist (in German Jacob Ignaz Hittorff). He combined advanced structural use of new materials, notably cast iron, with conservative Beaux-Arts classicism in a career that spanned the decades from the Restoration to the Second Empire.

After serving an apprenticeship to a mason in his native city, he went in 1810 to Paris, and studied for some years at the Académie des Beaux-Arts working concurrently as a draughtsman for Charles Percier. At the Académie he was a favourite pupil of the government architect François-Joseph Bélanger, who employed him in the construction of one of the first cast-iron constructions in France, the cast-iron and glass dome of the grain market, Halle au Blé (1808-13); in 1814 Bélanger appointed him his principal inspector on construction sites.

Succeeding Bélanger as government architect in 1818, he designed many important public and private buildings in Paris and also in the south of France. From 1819 to 1830 in collaboration with Jean-François-Joseph Lecointe (1783-1858) he directed the royal fêtes and ceremonials, for which elaborate temporary structures were required, a post with a long history, which the two architects inherited from Bélanger. He also designed a new building for the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-Comique with Lecointe.

His principal buildings are the church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul in the basilica style, which was constructed in partnership with Jean-Baptiste Lepère (1830-44), and the Cirque d'hiver also in Paris, which opened as the Cirque Napoléon in 1852. Its 20-sided polygon around an oval central ring or stage surrounded by steeply tiered seating, is covered by a polygonal roof with no central post to mar the sightliness.

After making architectural tours in Germany, England, Italy and Sicily, he published the result of his Sicilian observations in Architecture antique de la Sicile (3 vols, 1826-1830; revised, 1866-1867), and also in Architecture moderne de la Sicile (1826-1835).

One of his important discoveries was that colour had been employed in ancient Greek architecture, a subject which he especially discussed in Architecture polychrome chez les Grecs (1830) and in Restitution du temple d'Empédocle a Sélinonte (1851); in accordance with the doctrines enunciated in these works he was in the habit of making colour an important feature in most of his architectural designs.

In 1833 Hittorff was entrusted with redesigning the Place de la Concorde, carried out in stages between 1833 and 1846. In 1836 the obelisk of Luxor was erected and the two Fontaines de la Concorde, one commemorating river navigation and commerce and the other ocean navigation and commerce, were placed on either side. At each angle of the square's extended octagon a statue was erected representing a French city: Bordeaux, Brest, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen and Strasbourg. In 1833 he was also elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.