Marc-Antoine Laugier (1753)

Architecture, of all the useful arts is that which requires the most distinguished talents, as well as the most extensive knowledge. Perhaps as much genius, spirit and taste is required therein as for the forming a Painter or a Poet of the first rank. It is a great mistake to think that mechanism is only required; that all is confined to laying foundations, and building walls, all according to rules; the practice of which supposes eyes accustomed to judge of a line, and hands to manage the trowel.

When we speak of the art of building, of the confused heaps of troublesome rubbish, of heaps of shapeless materials, dangerous scaffolds, a frightful game of machines, a multitude of ragged labourers; this is all that presents itself to the imagination of the vulgar, it is the rind, the least agreeable of any art, the ingenious mysteries of which are understood by few, and excite the admiration of all who discern them. Therein are discovered inventions, the boldness of which intimates an extensive and most fruitful genius. Proportions, the use of which declares a severe and systematic precision. Ornaments, the elegance of which discloses a most excellent and delicate thought. Whoever is capable of discerning such a variety of beauties, far from confounding architecture with the lesser arts, will be tempted to place it in the rank of the most profound sciences.

The sight of an edifice, built with all the perfection of art, creates a pleasure and enchantment, which becomes irresistible. This view raises in the soul noble and most affecting idea. We experience therein that sweet emotion, and the agreeable transport that such works excite, which bear the impression of true superiority of genius. A fine building speaks most eloquently for its architect. Mons. Perrault in his writings only appears a knowing man; the colonnade of the Louvre determines him the great one.

An Essay on Architecture / Laugier, Marc-Antoine (1755), An Essay on Architecture, London, T. Osborne and Shipton, pp. 1-3