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Antoine Laurent Thomas Vaudoyer,  Sognio di Casa Cosmopolitana, 1782 

A small sketch study in pencil, ink and wash, dating from the elder Vaudoyer’s time at the French Academy in Rome, for his ‘maison d’un cosmopolite’: a vision of a domestic temple to universal knowledge that began to circulate widely in print and drawn form from 1785 and was ingrained in the architectural discourse for much of the early 19th century. 

Vaudoyer’s was the best known and perhaps earliest of many late Enlightenment speculations on spherical dwellings and memorials that might capture an entire cosmos of natural science. Vaudoyer lays astronomical and astrological features on its outer surfaces, and organises the interior spaces to capture not just the range of human knowledge, but the varieties of mood, sense and feeling that mark our universal condition. 

It is eerily prescient of today’s cosmopolitan and digital era in which we have access in the single space around us to that vast range of knowledge and ideas of which Vaudoyer was ‘dreaming’ and to the endless possibility of engaging our emotions with them.

Nicholas Olsberg

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