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Alain Gruber

(b Besançon, Oct 25, 1745; d Besançon, Aug 1, 1819).

French architect and stage designer. He was the son of Pierre-François Pâris, a master builder turned architect. He was brought up in the modest court of the Prince-Bishop of Basle at Porrentruy in Switzerland, where from 1750 his father was official architect and topographer. He went to Paris probably in 1760 to study under the architect Louis-François Trouard, and after three unsuccessful attempts at the Prix de Rome in 1766, 1768 and 1769, he obtained the support of the Marquis de Marigny and the Duc d’Aumont with his project for entertainments at the wedding of the Dauphin and Marie-Antoinette, planned for 1770. He then went to the Académie de France in Rome as tutor to Trouard’s young son. During his five years there he associated with Cardinal de Bernis, Charles de Wailly, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Bergeret de Grancourt and contributed to the Abbé de Saint-Non’s Voyage pittoresque with drawings of antique monuments at Pompeii, Paestum, Herculaneum and elsewhere. He also travelled through Italy, from Sicily to Venice and the Piedmont, and kept travel journals of considerable interest. His many portfolios of architectural drawings were highly successful on his return to Paris and brought him employment: improvements to the Duc d’Aumont’s residence on the Place Louis XV (...