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Paris, with its majestic buildings, elegant boulevards, and colourful neighbourhoods, is often hailed as the most beautiful city in the world. In this lavishly illustrated book, one of the city's leading historians links the beauty of Paris to its harmonious architecture, the product of a powerful tradition of classical design running from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. Anthony Sutcliffe traces the main features of the development of Parisian building and architecture since Roman times, explaining the interaction of continuity and innovation and relating it to power, social structure, the property market, fashion, and the creativity of its architects. Three hundred illustrations, most in colour, complement the text, expressing the full character of Paris architecture. Sutcliffe describes in fascinating detail how Paris merged medieval tradition with a Renaissance architecture imported from Italy - first by order of the Crown, then by the aristocracy, the Church, and the middle classes. Under Louis XIV this style became clearly French. After 1789 revolutions and industrialization threatened to undermine Parisian classicism, but it was reinforced by Haussmann in mid-century as part of the most impressive urban development project of all time. Because of Haussmann, says Sutcliffe, public and private buildings conformed to a more rigid design convention than any that Paris had previously known, a classical tradition that remained entrenched until the 1950s, when modernism made its impact in a high-rise revolution during the de Gaulle era. However, explains Sutcliffe, by 1970 this modernist architecture was rejected by the Paris public, and in the last decade the city has seen theemergence of a restrained neo-modern architecture that blends sensitively with the Parisian tradition.
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