Doodles a la Oppenord

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From the sketchbook of G.M. Oppenord. (Getty Research Institute)

The sketchbook of G.M. Oppenord is offered by architect Joel Pidel, from his library. Joel throws it out for the pleasure of fellow TradArch list members, and someone ill prepared, as I am, to analyze the work between its covers wonders when these sketches were done, whether Oppenord was a student at the time, or an architect who collected bits and pieces from his career.

I flipped slowly through maybe the first 40 or 50 pages, at a loss how to choose from such delights which to place atop this blog. I finally chose one that wallowed in the baluster, perhaps my favorite typology of architectural embellishment. It was a tough choice and I had to fall back on prejudice and favoritism. And I’d do it again!

At last I espied a link that reads “Livre de fragments d’architectures recüeilis et dessinés à Rome d’après les plus beaux monuments.” Here I find answers. G.M. Oppenord is Giles-Marie Oppenord, 1672-1742. His sketchbook was published in 1720 by Gabriel Huquier of Paris and is composed of 14 parts spanning 192 pages. It is available courtesy of the Getty Research Institute.

Notwithstanding the link, I am still in the dark whether the drawings are from works of architecture in Rome or are works of his imagination inspired by the Roman monuments. Any reader may feel free to offer suggestions!

[His name, by the way, is widely and variously misspelled, with Oppenort appearing on his sketchbook, Oppenord on most online citations, and Oppenordt as another variant spelling, as Steven Semes points out in a comment below. Getty prefers Oppenord; Wikipedia prefers Oppenordt. I had it -ort and -art in my post. Tsk, tsk!]

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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1 Response to Doodles a la Oppenord

  1. Steven Semes says:

    David, I haven’t heard of Oppernort or Oppenart, but I’m wondering if there is some confusion with this one, who I have heard of: This Oppenordt was a pioneer of the French Late Baroque/ Rococo. Maybe one of our itinerant historians can clarify for us.


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