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Coupe de Cenotaphe de Newton
Étienne-Louis Boullée was a French neoclassical architect whose designs have had a lasting impact on modern architecture. The paperwork accompanying this piece reads: "Sublime Spirit! Vast and profound genius! Divine being! Accept the homage of my weak talents... Oh, Newton!" With these words, French architect and designer Étienne-Louis Boullée dedicated his design for an imaginary cenotaph (empty tomb) in honor of the English physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Like many intellectuals of his day, Boullée was fascinated by Newtonian physics. His design illustrates perfectly the general characteristics of his work and that of the architecture at the end of the 18th century: large simple masses free from any superfluous decoration and buildings whose forms express their purpose. Boullée was an academician who taught at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussée and the Académie Royal d'Architecture in Paris. He influenced many of his contemporaries with his works and his teaching. This cut-away view of the cenotaph reveals a brilliant central fixture within a monumental sphere that sits atop a rectangular base. As a whole, the cenotaph minimizes the landscape around it with its grand scale.