Interior of a Library
Since most of his commissioned architectural works are no longer extant, Boullée is best known for a group of a hundred imaginative and rather grandiose designs that he left to the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris. Although he was commissioned to expand the royal library in 1780, his designs were never realized. In his treatise, Boullée explained that he was transforming "a . . . courtyard . . . into an immense [amphitheater-like] basilica lighted from above . . . [with] attendants spread about so that they could pass the books" from tier to tier. In brilliant, large-scale designs, such as the present example, he went beyond Neoclassicism to the visionary—even futuristic—clarity for which his work is now so admired.