From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Claude Perrault (Paris, 25 September 1613 - Paris, p October 1688) is best known as the architect of the eastern range of the Louvre Palace in Paris (see Perrault’s Colonnade), but he also achieved success as a physician and anatomist, and as an author, who wrote treatises on physics and natural history.
Aside from his influential architecture, Perrault is best regarded for his translation of the ten books of Vitruvius, the only surviving Roman work on architecture, into French, done at the instigation of Colbert, and published, with Perrault's annotations, in 1673. His treatise on the five classical orders of architecture followed in 1683. As physician and physicist with a degree of doctor from the University of Paris, Perrault became one of the first members of the French Academy of Sciences when it was founded in 1666.
In the competition for the new range of building for the Louvre he was successful over all rivals, even Bernini, who had traveled from Italy expressly for the purpose. This work claimed his attention from 1665 to 1680, and established his reputation: Perrault’s Colonnade overlooking the Quai du Louvre became widely celebrated. The simple character of the ground floor basement sets off the paired Corinthian columns, modeled strictly according to Vitruvius, against a shadowed void, with pavilions at the ends. Little that could be called Baroque can be identified in its cool classicism that looks back to the 16th century. The façade, divided in five parts, is a typical solution of the French classicism.
Perrault also built an Observatory, the church of St-Benoît-le-Bétourné, designed a new church of Ste-Geneviève, and erected an altar in the Church of the Little Fathers, all in Paris. Perrault's design for a triumphal arch on Rue St-Antoine was preferred to competing designs of Charles Le Brun and Louis Le Vau, but was only partly executed in stone. When the arch was taken down in the 19th century, it was found that the ingenious master had devised a means of so interlocking the stones, without mortar, that it had become an inseparable mass.
In addition, he made a valuable contribution in the acoustics. His treatise on sound was a part of the book Oeuvres diverses de Physique et de Mecanique. In his later book, he treats such subjects as sound media, sources of sound and sound receivers. Regarding the musical acoustics, he noted the importance of vibration on consonance and dissonance. His study De la Musique des Anciens (Oevres diverses de Physique et de Mecanique) discussed how the combination of different notes make up harmony. It also contains critical examinations of old manuscripts on European music.