Maison Carree, Nismes France - 1st Century BC Roman Temple

Virginia Capitol - ca. 1789

Jefferson on the Maison Carree and Virginia Capitol:

"Here I am, Madame, gazing whole hours at the Maison Carree, like a lover at his mistress." (1787)

"I thought it a favorable opportunity of introducing into the state an example of architecture in the classic stylke of antiquity, and the Maison quarree at Nismes, an ancient Roman temple, considered as the most perfect model existing of what may be called cubic architecture." (1821)

"I have received an application from the Directors of Public Buildings to procure them a plan taken from the best morsel of ancient architecture now remaining. It has obtained the approbation of fifteen or sixteen centuries, and is, therefore, preferable to any design which might be newly contrived. it will give more room, be more convenient and cost less than the plan they sent me. Pray encourage them to wait for it and execute it. It will be superior in beauty to anything in America, and not inferior to anything in the world." (Jefferson, letter to James Madison, September 1, 1785).

"We took for our model what is called the Maison Quarree of Nismes, one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful and precious morsel of architecture left us by antiquity. It was built by Caius and Lucius Caesar, and repaired by Louis XV, and had the suffrage of all the judges of architecture who have seen it as yielding to no one of the beautiful monuments of Greece, Palmyra and Balbec, which late travelers have communicated to us. It is very simple, but it is noble beyond expression, and would have done honor to any country, as presenting to travelers a specimen of taste in our infancy, promising much for our maturer age." (Jefferson letter to James Madison, September 20, 1785).

"It is not flattery to say that you have planted the arts in your country. The works already in this city (Washington DC) are monuments to your judgment and of your zeal and taste." (Benjamin Latrobe 1807)