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Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

Choragic Monument of Lysicrates


The J. Paul Getty Museum

A circular monument with Corinthian columns lining the exterior. The monument has a round roof and is set on a square podium. The monument is partially excavated and the ground around has small piles of rubble. There are a few houses with tile roofs behind the monument.

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Choragic Monument of Lysicrates

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In ancient Greece , yearly theater competitions sponsored by choregoi, wealthy patrons of the dramatic arts, were held in the Theater of Dionysus. The chorēgos who sponsored the winning performance received a prize, a large trophy in the form of a bronze tripod. In 334 BC, Lysicrates received the first of such prizes and commissioned a monument for his trophy.

The monument sits on Tripidon Street (Street of the Tripods), the ancient road that led from the city entrance to the theater, and was once lined with choragic monuments. Foundations of the others were discovered in the 1980s, but the Lysicrates monument is the only one that remains intact.

The monument has a cubic marble base and rotunda with Corinthian-style half columns that support an architrave. Above the architrave is the entablature, containing friezes depicting scenes from Lysicrates’ winning play. They show Dionysus, the Greek god of the stage, defeating pirates by turning them into dolphins. The entablature originally supported a dome, now missing, which was the base for three scrolls that held the tripod-shaped trophy.

In 1658, a French Capuchin monastery was founded on the site and later succeeded in purchasing the monument. The monks used the monument as a library and it survived over the years in part thanks to this. The monastery itself has a couple other claims to fame. The poet Lord Byron stayed there on a visit to Greece in 1810 and wrote his famous poem, “The Maid of Athens.” And in 1818, a monk planted the first tomato plants in Greece next to the Lysicrates monument in the monastery gardens.

The choragic monument was damaged and partially buried in rubble in 1824 during the Greek War of Independence, when the monastery was destroyed. It was restored with assistance from the French government and now stands proudly in its namesake square.


Rebirth of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney

The restored Choragic Monument of Lysicrates located at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney is set to be unveiled on October 16.

The 148-year-old monument had fallen into a state of despair over the years. However, thanks to John and Patricia Azarias who undertook a two-year mission to restore the national treasure, the monument has had a $600,000 facelift from private and government funding.

The couple had been visiting the gardens in 2014 when the derelict monument came to their attention.

“Humans put up monuments and we think that they will be remembered through them and then people do not see them any more they become transparent. And that happened to this monument,” Mr Azarias said to neoskosmos.com.

Mr Azarias explained that they were able to attract donors from all backgrounds.

“The Greek community were the first ones who responded…The donors have come from a wide range of backgrounds – African, Anglo-Celtic, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim – another testimony to the vibrancy and diversity of this fabulous city.”

But there is more than just the monument that has been restored to the community as Mr and Mrs Azarias also formed the Lysicrates Foundation, inspired by the monument in Athens that was erected in 334 BC by choregos Lysicrates in commemoration of his triumph in the Theatre of Dionysus competition.

The Lysicrates Foundation annually invites three playwrights to perform the first scene of their play and the winner is granted $12,500 to assist in the completion of their work.

“In essence we are reviving the Great Dionysia,” Mr Azarias told neoskosmos.com. “Every member of the audience comes in to the conservatorium, they receive a little ceramic token and then they watch one play after the other. When they leave there are three urns, one for each play, and they put the token they have in one. The urn that has the most is the winner.”

The shortlisted playwrights for the 2017 Lysicrates Prize will be announced later this month and will be performed at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in February.


Restored Choragic Monument of Lysicrates to be unveiled

John Azarias always felt society was incumbent to promote creativity.

For him personally, the opportunity to do so presented itself in May 2014, following a serendipitous stroll through Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens when, together with his wife Dr Patricia Azarias, he found himself before the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates – a replica of the original, erected in Athens in 334BC by choregos Lysicrates in commemoration of his triumph in the Theatre of Dionysus competition.

Familiar with the monument and its significance, they couldn’t help but noticed the sandstone’s poor condition.

“Humans put up monuments and we think that they will be remembered through them and then people do not see them any more they become transparent. And that happened to this monument,” Mr Azarias told Neos Kosmos.

It was at that moment that he was inspired to take the initiative to restore the memorial, and subsequently form the Lysicrates Foundation.

As an executive director on various boards, and a former diplomat, Mr Azarias set about making phone calls in search of people’s generosity. Being a part of Australia’s history, he discovered people were very happy to support the initiative.

“The Greek community were the first ones who responded,” he says, though adds that he didn’t want to rely on one sector of the community alone, recognising it as a collective Sydney project.

“The donors have come from a wide range of backgrounds – African, Anglo-Celtic, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim – another testimony to the vibrancy and diversity of this fabulous city.”

The monument, first commissioned by three-time premier of NSW Sir James Martin, was initially kept at his home in Potts Point until 1943, when it was moved to its current position in the gardens.

John with his wife Dr Patricia Azarias.

Two years on since their efforts commenced, and the Azarias have succeeded in their mission to restore the monument to its former glory through the state government’s Stone Masons Program, costing $600,000 in total and made possible by both private and government funding.

But it’s not just the monument that they have brought back to life. In a bid to encourage and reward the theatrical talent in Australia, they have reintroduced the Great Dionysia theatre model itself with the Lysicrates Prize.

Reminiscent of the three trilogies in ancient Athens, three shortlisted playwrights are invited to perform the first scene of their work, and unlike other competitions of this calibre, it is the audience that determines the winner a concept which hasn’t been implemented anywhere in the world for some 2,000 years.

“In essence we are reviving the Great Dionysia,” says Mr Azarias. “Every member of the audience comes in to the conservatorium, they receive a little ceramic token and then they watch one play after the other. When they leave there are three urns, one for each play, and they put the token they have in one. The urn that has the most is the winner.”

Not only does the playwright get the approval of an audience, but they also receive $12,500 to assist in writing the full play.

The inaugural prize in 2015 was awarded by Premier of NSW Mike Baird, and in 2016 by Federal Minister for the Arts, Mitch Fifield.

But the idea of taking the power out of the artistic director’s hands was not initially looked upon favourably.

“When we first went to visit the artistic director of the Griffin Theatre to tell her about our idea she said that we were crazy,” Mr Azarias admits.

“The artistic director of every theatre is a gatekeeper everyone goes and begs them to take up their play and here we are going to her and telling her that you will give away your part to the audience.”

Though by persevering and doing so, he says the foundation has created an alternative platform for theatre producers and artistic directors to see how audiences react. In future he hopes the event will expand over two or three days, and attract attention across the globe.

Along with the unveiling of the monument this month, The Lysicrates Prize 2015: The People’s Choice book will be launched and shortlisted playwrights will be announced for the 2017 Lysicrates Prize. The performance is scheduled to follow at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in February, and in a bid to attract people from all sectors of society, there will be no entry fee.

“We want to have people from all the postcodes, all age groups and not just the usual suspects who normally go to the theatre or are from the theatre scene,” said Mr Azarias.

For some, it may seem to be a lot of effort to go to, to commemorate a time in ancient history long past. But for Mr Azarias it is far more than that.

“The monument is part of our heritage here it is 148 years old and we do not only celebrate our past but we also promote Australian creativity,” which he says is the foundation’s core objective.
“The motto of our foundation is that it is the scribblers, daubers and assorted eggheads who are a society’s real treasures, the ones who capture our stories − they will be the ones who will be remembered. Nothing else will be remembered in the future, nothing else.”


The Very Model of an Ancient-Modern Monument

Demolition of “Pennsylvania Bank, 1867,” Detail of albumen print by John Moran, photographer. (The Library Company of Philadelphia) The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, from James Stuart’s Antiquities of Athens, 1762. (Smithsonian Libraries)

By the 1830s, you’d have thought folks might begin to grow a bit tired of seeing every last architect translating their city into the Greek. And they might have, had it not been for William Strickland’s way of combining the very old and the very new. This most creative of the homegrown generation of architect/engineers didn’t shy away from moving the game up a few notches. Strickland pulled out his copy of Stuart’s Antiquities of Athens, a book that had been around for seventy years, and had long been used as a source by architects including Benjamin Henry Latrobe, John Haviland and Strickland himself.

But the stakes were higher now. Strickland faced the challenge of making architectural sense on a very prominent and oddly-shaped building lot defined by Dock, Walnut and Third Streets. And he found himself working in the shadow of his mentor’s masterpiece, the Bank of Pennsylvania. This tough site demanded a commanding solution—and an innovative one. Squeezing a rectangular Greek temple onto a triangular building lot just wouldn’t do. Strickland needed to find design solutions that were even bolder, but also more carefully considered.

And so he did. Strickland positioned on the narrow end of this wedge a raised, semi-circular portico, making this eastern façade look like a grand entrance on a civic square. (In reality, this is the grand, rounded-off back of the building. Strickland made Third Street the user-friendly entrance.)

Perspective of Old Stock Exchange at Dock and Walnut Streets, March 24, 1915. (PhillyHistory.org)

Here, in Philadelphia, a few blocks from the city’s riverfront, facing the morning sun (the same that illuminated ancient Athens) stood Strickland’s masterpiece. Unlike his others Greek Revival buildings, this was no replica ripped from the pages of Antiquities of Athens. Here was a 3-D billboard of Greek features serving Philadelphia, here and now.

For the cupola, which pulled the entire project together, Strickland found inspiration in Stuart’s illustration of a 334 BC monument still very much standing on the streets of Athens. The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates was a self-congratulatory, 21-foot pedestal for a choral prize won at a performing arts competition, part of the same festival that produced the great dramas of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Stuart and William Henry Playfair designed literal replicas in Staffordshire and Edinburgh. Here in Philadelphia, Strickland took great liberties with the design—and achieved very American results.

He moved the “monument” from street level to the roof. He blew it up to double the size of the original making a giant 40-foot-tall, 14 feet diameter skyline-defining structure. And instead of interpreting the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in stone for the ages, Strickland designed it in wood that he knew could last only a few decades. (It would be replaced about every sixty years.) Now, far from Europe, this Pop-Art scaled, archeologically correct, ephemeral monument would echo the past. But even more important, here above Philadelphia’s 1830s cityscape, this landmark would live very much in the moment.

East side of the Merchant Exchange Building, November 2, 1960. (PhillyHistory.org)

The Merchants Exchange, and, in particular, the tower at its eastern end, would become an essential element in a new, high-tech information network. Long before 1837, when Samuel F.B. Morse patented his telegraph (and way longer before anyone dreamed of the internet) Europeans and Americans had “optical telegraphs” capable of quickly transmitting coded messages over great distances. As early as 1807, the U.S. Congress had debated and eventually voted in favor of funding a 1,200 mile long chain of optical telegraph towers connecting New York and New Orleans – a project that fell by the wayside. But it wasn’t farfetched. More than a decade earlier, Claude Chappe’s invention, the “semaphore visual telegraph,” came to life in France as a 143-mile connection between Paris and Lille that would grow into a network of more than 500 towers across Europe extending 3,000 miles. In 1799, when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he envisioned extending the technology across the English Channel.

Merchants Exchange, looking east from above Third St., during construction of the 3rd cupola, 10/25/1964. (PhillyHistory.org)

So when American architect William Thornton envisioned connecting North and South America in 1800, the possibilities made level heads reel. Before long, American businessmen in Boston and New York had their own optical telegraph networks. By the time the Merchants Exchange was under construction, an optical telegraph in Boston tracked shipping, commerce and investments on a real-time basis.

“Time and distance are annihilated,” became the popular proclamation, a mantra of the 1830s.

No surprise, then, that the Merchant Exchange’s cupola high above Dock and Walnut Streets played triple duty: as a perch for clerks with telescopes identifying ships making their way to and from the Port of Philadelphia, as a place to send and receive messages flashing from New York across the plains of New Jersey, and the most lasting message of all: that Philadelphia had finally come into its own as a modern day version of ancient Athens.


Choragic Monument of Lysicrates - History

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Curatorial note

This is a highly unusual variant on the Choragic Monument. Fouquet has not based his model reconstruction on depictions of the original in Athens, which was a monument raised in honour of the choregos or theatrical sponsor Lysicrates. A drama which he had organised and paid for, either in 335 or 334 BC, won the first prize in the Dionysia religious festival which took place in the Theatre of Dionysus, Athens, in honour of that god. The prize was a bronze tripod, which, to commemorate Lysicrates’ victory, was set up on the small, circular monument named after him (334 BC). Instead Fouquet has based the model on the so-called 'Lantern of Demosthenes', a tall, tower-like folly, built in 1801 by Napoleon I in the park of the Château of St Cloud, Paris, the top two sections of which were loosely based upon the classical monument. The open circular structure contained a bust of the Emperor (replicated in miniature in Fouquet’s model) and the Lantern would be illuminated to indicate that Napoleon was in residence at the Château. The original Choragic Monument of Lysicrates was far shorter than the tower at St Cloud and the central section was formed of a hollow drum of masonry with engaged Corinthian columns. In 1870, as a result of the Franco-Prussian War, the Lantern of Demosthenes at St Cloud was destroyed.

This model, along with the Arch of Hadrian (MR74) was badly damaged in World War II, probably when a landmine fell onto Lincoln’s Inn Fields on the night of 15 October 1940 shattering the glass case as well as the plaster model.

The shattered plaster columns allow us to see the inner bronze armature that Fouquet used to strengthen the fragile plaster. It would appear that these bronze rods were positioned into the moulds for the column shafts and then the liquid plaster was poured around them.


Choragic Monument of Lysicrates unveiled

One of Sydney’s most intricate historic monuments has been restored to its former glory, thanks to the work of the NSW government’s specialist stonemasons unit, a group of Sydney philanthropists and the Royal Botanic Garden.

The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, is an 1870 replica of an ancient Greek monument dating from 334BC.

Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet today unveiled the monument, which has been restored in part thanks a $200,000 investment as part of the Minister’s Stonework Program.

“The Lysicrates monument represents the rich cultural history and heritage that has shaped our city, our state and our nation, and we simply must preserve that history for future generations,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Earlier this year the government committed an additional $2 million in funding for our specialist stonemasons to restore and preserve our heritage icons, and I was pleased to be able to include the preservation of this monument as part of the program.”

Stonemasons at work in Yellowblock.

In addition to its links to ancient Greece, the Sydney monument has considerable local historical significance. It was commissioned in 1868 by Premier James Martin (after whom Martin Place was named), and is carved from Sydney’s iconic Yellowblock sandstone.

Originally located in Martin’s Potts Point garden, the monument was saved from demolition in 1943 and relocated to the Royal Botanical Gardens by the then premier William McKell, following a campaign by Sydney Morning Herald journalist Fritz Burnell.

In 2014 a group of Sydney philanthropists noticed that rain and winds had eroded the soft golden sandstone of the monument. The group formed the Lysicrates Foundation, which has worked closely with the Minister’s Stonework Program and Royal Botanic Gardens to restore the monument.

Ongoing maintenance of the monument will be supported by the Lysicrates Foundation and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Lysicrates Foundation has also founded an annual play writing competition in the Greek theatrical tradition as part of its work to promote performing and visual arts in Australia.


Conservation (Built) – Choregic Monument

The Choregic Monument of Lysicrates is located in the Royal Botanic Gardens close to Farm Cove seawall. The monument is a copy of the original, erected in Athens in 334 BC. The project included research, condition assessment, desalination, re-carving and surface stabilisation. Community instigation and involvement were a major part of this project.

The Choregic Monument is significant for its form, material, craftsmanship and historical associations. The Monument is listed on the National Trust Register, the City of Sydney LEP and is an item located within a Conservation Area. The original monument in Greece is believed to be the first external use of the Corinthian order and is included in architectural history books to demonstrate the composition of the Corinthian capital. Sydney’s copy dating from 1870, allows scholars, students and the community to have access to a faithfully proportioned replica to study and enjoy.

The Monument demonstrates the high quality caving and copyist skills of stonemason Walter McGill, known for also carving the glorious Corinthian capitals of the Australian Museum. The Monument is significant for its association with the former Premier of NSW, Sir James Martin as in Martin Place who commissioned the work for his garden in Potts Point in 1870. The Monument was relocated to the Royal Botanic Gardens in 1943.

Instigation of the Project:
In 2014 private citizens, Patricia and John Azarias observed the Choragic Monument was in need of care during a stroll in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. They created the Lysicrates Foundation to raise funds from private donors and the State Government’s Minister’s Stonework Program (MSP) matched the funds dollar for dollar. This is the first Private/Public Partnership the MSP has undertaken. The total cost of the project was $450,000.

Conservation Approach:
With private donor funding came preconceived ideas of ‘restoration’ and expectations of the monument to appear clean & improved. The MSP team worked closely with the donors to offer a framework for conservation decision making for the Monument based on the guiding principles Burra Charter. A major challenge of this project was deciding on the level of stone replacement given the existing condition and ongoing exposure to harsh environmental conditions. Issues of significance based on form (Corinthian order) were closely assessed authenticity.

In the hierarchy of significant elements within the Monument, the frieze is highly significant as the carvings tell the story of the Greek God Dionysus fighting off pirates who turn into dolphins when thrown into the water. The frieze is constructed from 3 stones, each telling a third of the story. The team chose to re-carve one of the three stones (south-west facing) due to its advanced state of decay. The surface of this stone had lost all recognisable detail, as shown in the attached photographs. Although the remaining two stones are in a reasonably weathered condition, the rate of deterioration has been slowed by desalination and repointing the upper areas to prevent water ingress. The primary objective of the project was to retain as much of the original sandstone as possible while stabilising and protecting the monument as a whole to ensure the significance of the item is retained for the next generation.

Research & Documentation:
Measured drawings were prepared mapping the condition of the stone to provide a record into the future and to compare the condition with records prepared by the Stone Program 20 years ago. Archival professional photography was commissioned to record the Monument before, during and after the works. The re-carving process required the stonemasons to research scale and stylistic differences between the original monument and the Sydney version. A key document referred to for re-carving one of the frieze stones measured drawings of the original from “The Antiquities of Athens” by Stuart and Revett published 1748.

Project Engagement & Legacy:
In summary, no other public monument in NSW reaches out to such a diversity of community interest. Conservation works have been a catalyst for many great and lasting community events and creative pursues, mainly due the passion to the projects instigators Patricia and John Ararias.

The Lysicrates Foundation – Dr Patricia Azarias and John Azarius were inspired to the Lysicrates Foundation to raise private funds to contribute to the conservation of the Choregic Monument. Once this was achieved the Foundation established the Lysicrates Prize, the Archibald Prize equivalent for playwrights, in association with the Griffin Theatre.

Greek community – through the Monument’s connection with the original 334B.C. Choregic Monument in Athens. John Azarias, was interviewed on Greek radio about the conservation project and the Lysicrates Theatre Prize.

Law community – James Martin commissioned the Monument f in 1870. Conservation of the monument has provided an interest in the law community to pay homage to Martin for his achievement as Australia’s first Premier and Chief Justice. An Inaugural Martin Oration was established by the Lysicrates Foundation and given by the Hon. T.F.Bathurst AC, Chief Justice of NSW on 25th November 2016 (Commemorative booklet attached).

Theatre community – The Lysicrates Prize was established in 2015 and is an annual theatre prize, the Archibald Prize for Playwrighting, inspired by the ancient Greek monument, erected in 334 BC. in Athens to celebrate a win by the sponsor, Lysicrates, in the Great Dionysia theatre competition of that year.
This Sydney event attracts at least 500 people to the Monument every year as it provides the setting for the announcement of the winner. Financial Review article, 3rd February 2017 (attached) & interview on Eastside 89.7FM radio http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/arts-and-entertainment/theatre-and-dance/sydney-philanthropists-create-the-lysicrates-prize-20170131-gu2c75

Byron Society – the original Monument has an significant link with Lord Byron, who wrote poetry inside the monument while staying in Athens in the 1800’s. The Australian Byron Society has held gatherings in the Botanic Gardens at the Monument to celebration Byron’s birthday.

Stonework Conservation – Unveiling of the completion of the conservation of the work was featured on ABC news.

Published on Oct 16, 2016. Education about the significance of the item and the conservation works was an important aspect of the project.

A song ‘The Ballad of Martin and Lysicrates’ – written by the Governor of NSW’s wife, Mrs Hurley and sung by Mrs Hurley at the public unveiling of the completion of the conservation works in the Botanic Gardens in October 2016.

Worked on the project:
Minister’s Stonework Program, Department of Finance, Service & Innovation

What the Judges said:

“Terrific work from the Minister’s Stonework Program on a replica of a 334BC Greek monument in the Botanic Gardens involving investigation, desalination, recarving and stabilisation.”


European and American Architecture (1750–1900)

This lesson covers one of the most exciting 150-year spans in architecture, 1750–1900. Seismic changes occurred in the areas of:

Lifestyle: During these years many people moved from the country to the city. England reached a 50/50 balance around the 1850s. America’s equilibrium occurred around the 1920s. This industrialization caused the creation of new building types.

Government: During the late eighteenth century, the Western world experienced two massive revolutions—the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Monarchies declined in power, and democratic governments were created.

Patronage: Religious and aristocratic patronage gave way to more commissions by democratic governments and wealthy, self-made individuals.

Technology: Advancements were made in building materials, transportation, and machinery. Traditional materials such as brick and stone were replaced by ferrous metals (iron and steel) and glass.

Architects and designers attempted to mitigate their training with the demands of modern life—evidenced not only—in architecture itself, but also in architectural texts, interior designing, excavations, and urban design, some of which will be covered in this lecture. Advancements in these categories ultimately put the building profession irrevocably on the path towards twentieth-century modern architecture.

The starting point of this lesson presupposes that students will be aware of trends in Baroque and Rococo architecture, but it makes sense to start with a review:

Show your class a slide containing images of iconic works of Baroque and Rococo architecture. I like to use Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (Rome, 1638–41) as the Baroque example and Germain Boffrand and Charles-Joseph Natoire’s Salon de la Princesse, Hôtel de Soubise (Paris, 1736–9) as the Rococo example.

Begin the review with some of these prompts:

  • Describe the formal characteristics of Baroque and Rococo architecture.
  • Who were the patrons?
  • Describe the dominant ideologies and values of the cultures that produced these works.
  • To what sources did they look?

You students may be surprised to learn that the flamboyant qualities of Baroque and Rococo architecture that they learned to recognize and appreciate in previous lectures came under fire in the mid-eighteenth century for their perceived abuses of freedom—combining Classical elements in unorthodox ways—and invention, such as the creation of new capitals. Looking at these works from a second-half-of-the-eighteenth-century standpoint serves the dual purpose of acting as the segue from last lecture to this one and also setting the architectural stage for the current lecture.

Francesco Borromini’s (1599–1667) San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane is a one example of a Baroque building that—to mid-eighteenth century minds—incorporated too much invention. Constructed for the Spanish order of Discalced Trinitarians, Borromini’s ground plan indicates that the interior space of the church was based on geometry (equilateral triangles, circles, and an oval). The underlying geometry becomes lost among the aspects that mesmerize viewers: the undulating walls, irregularly spaced columns, frequent wall openings, and ornament—all showcasing the freedom with which Borromini used and altered Classical elements—a significant example being the volutes of the composite capitals, some of which curve upwards instead of the traditional down. The sculptural quality of the interior is reflected in the church’s exterior. The façade swells out and in, and areas between columns are filled with niches and sculpture.

Moving forward a hundred years to the Rococo, your students will likely be familiar with Germain Boffrand and Charles-Joseph Natoire’s Salon de la Princesse, Hôtel de Soubise. An oval room on the upper-level, this salon was used by a princess of the Rohan-Soubise dynasty for entertaining. The walls dematerialize, punctuated by windows, doors, and large mirrors. Extensive amounts of gilt ornamentation cover the walls and frames openings.

Themes to stress throughout the lecture include progress, building type, materials and technology.

Background Readings

Henry Flitcroft, The Temple of Apollo, Stourhead, 1765 (Wiltshire, England).

One of the best sources is Leland Roth’s Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning, second edition (Westview Press, 2007). If you are looking for information on European architecture see Barry Bergdoll’s European Architecture 1750–1890 (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Sir John Summerson’s The Classical Language of Architecture, twentieth printing (MIT Press, 2001). For an explanation of materials, see Harley J. McKee’s Introduction to Early American Masonry (National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1973). This book provides an excellent overview of the tools used to prepare building materials and terminology.

For British Architecture, see Sir John Summerson’s Architecture in Britain 1530–1830, ninth edition (Yale University Press, 1993).

For American architectural history, I recommend a series of survey texts as well as sources that are more focused upon specific artists or structures. Leland Roth’s A Concise History of American Architecture (Harper & Row, Publishers, 1979) provides a standard chronological progression through North American architectural movements. Dell Upton’s Architecture in the United States (Oxford University Press, 1998) is divided into chapters that address American architecture through the lenses of community, nature, technology, money and art.

For Stourhead see their webpage on the United Kingdom’s national trust site.

For the United States Capitol building, see James D. and Georgiana W. Kornwolf’s Architecture and Town Planning in Colonial North America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002)—a wonderful text about colonial and early American architecture. Also see Henry Russell Hitchcock and William Seale’s Temples of Democracy: The State Capitols of the U.S.A. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976).

For Schinkel’s Altes Museum, see Steven Moyano, “Quality vs. History: Schinkel’s Altes Museum and Prussian Arts Policy,” The Art Bulletin Vol. 72, No. 4 (December, 1990), 585–608 James J. Sheehan, Museums in the German Art World: From the End of the Old Regime to the Rise of Modernism (Oxford University Press, 2000) Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1781–1841: The Drama of Architecture (Art Institute of Chicago, 1994).

For the Gothic Revival, I am indebted to Chris Brooks’ The Gothic Revival (Phaidon, 1999) and Michael J. Lewis’ The Gothic Revival (Thames & Hudson, 2002).

For the Grammar of Ornament see Carole A Hrvol Flores’ Owen Jones: Design, Ornament, Architecture, and Theory in an Age of Transition (Rizzoli, 2006) John Kresten Jespersen, “Originality and Jones,” The Grammar of Ornament of 1856,” Journal of Design History Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer 2008), 143–53 and Stacey Sloboda’s “The Grammar of Ornament: Cosmopolitanism and Reform in British Design.” Journal of Design History Vol. 21, No. 3 (Autumn, 2008), 223–36.

For the Skyscraper, I recommend Sarah Bradford Landau and Carl W. Condit’s Rise of the New York Skyscraper, 1865–1913 (Yale University Press, 1996) and Winston Weisman’s “A New View of Skyscraper History” in Rise of an American Architecture. (Metropolitan Museum of Art by Praeger Publishers, 1970).

For Aesthetic Movement architecture, see Andrew Saint’s Richard Norman Shaw (Yale University Press, 2010) Jeffrey Karl Ochsner and Thomas C. Hubka, “H. H. Richardson: The Design of the William Watts Sherman House,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 51, No. 2 (June, 1992), 121–45 James F. O’Gorman’s “A Touch of Nash: The Williams Watts Sherman House and the Aesthetic Movement.” Nineteenth Century Vol. 19, No. 1 (1999), 53–9 and In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986).

For Ecole des Beaux Arts architecture see Christopher Mead, “Urban Contingency and the Problem of Representation in Second Empire Paris,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 54, No. 2 (June, 1995), 138–74.

Content Suggestions

The layout of this lecture is designed to underscore the international and intercontinental spread of architectural ideas. In most instances, I give two examples to illustrate a particular stylistic movement—one European and one American. Optional works are indented underneath to supplement certain topics. I have also included asides about materials and other topics, which can be useful.

In an hour and fifteen minutes, you should be able to cover the following works of architecture:

  • Francesco Borromini, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (Rome, 1638–41)
  • Germain Boffrand and Chalres-Joseph Natoire, Salon de la Princesse, Hôtel de Soubise (Paris, 1736–9)

Second Half of the Eighteenth Century:

  • Marc-Antoine Laugier, Essai sur l’architecture (Paris, 1755 first edition 1753)
  • James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, The Antiquities of Athens: Measured and Delineated (London, 1762–95)
    • Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, c. 334 BCE
    • Claude Lorrain, Coast View of Delos with Aeneas (1672)
    • Henry Flitcroft, Pantheon (constructed between 1753-54)
    • Henry Flitcroft, Temple of Apollo (constructed in 1765)
    • Henry Flitcroft, King Alfred’s Tower (designed 1765, constructed between 1769–72)
    • Bristol Cross (a monument from the fifteenth–seventeenth centuries was moved in 1765 from its original Bristol location to Hoare’s park)

    Nineteenth Century

    • Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Altes Museum (Berlin, 1823–30)
      • William Strickland, Tennessee State Capitol (Nashville, 1845–59)
      • Richard Upjohn, Trinity Church (New York City, 1839–46)
      • William LeBaron Jenney, Home Insurance Building, (Chicago, c. 1885)
      • McKim, Mead, and White, American Safe Deposit Company Building, (New York City, 1882–4).
      • H. Richardson, William Watts Sherman House (Newport, Rhode Island, 1874–6)
      • World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1891–3)

      Begun in the second half of the eighteenth century and lasting through the early nineteenth century, the Enlightenment did much to affect the path of architecture. Though not a single unified movement, it was founded on the belief in progress and in the power of reason. Recent achievements in science encouraged the notion that, through the acquisition of knowledge and the application of reason social, intellectual, and moral reforms could be affected. The impact of the Enlightenment on the arts took various forms. Some artists paid homage to science, others studied the classical past. The later impacts architecture more acutely.

      By 1750, there was a growing discontent with the gaudy Baroque and Rococo architecture highlighted above. It came under fire for being dishonest, meaning that its sculptural, undulating walls and overzealous ornamentation deceptively hid the building’s supporting construction. Critics thought that these features placed the emphasis in the wrong places and architecture required a much needed return to its primitive origins. This viewpoint was demonstrated in the frontispiece of the second edition of Essai sur l’architecture by Jesuit priest and amateur aesthetician Marc-Antoine Laugier (1713–69).

      The engraved frontispiece of Essai sur l’architecture depicts a classical female figure as the Muse of Architecture, holding a compass, a right angle and reclining on an entablature. The image also includes the Scamozzi Ionic capital (Scamozzi Ionic capitals flare out at the corners when the two sides come together). This Muse directs an infant to a primitive hut, humanity’s first built structure that represents pure, honest architecture. Built of wood—both living trees and cut—the space was created using a limited number of elements: posts (the verticals), lintels or beams (the horizontals), and gabled roof. All of these elements are not decorated.

      This image served as a rallying point to galvanize people to return to a perceivably purer architecture. It should be stated here that Laugier and his supporters did not feel that the only structures that should be built were primitive wooden huts. Instead, they promoted the idea that if a historical source was emulated, it should be from a culture that practiced pure architecture. The older the civilization, the purer architecture they created. Using this logic, Greek architecture was superior to Roman, as Greek civilization was older.

      One publication that did the most to spread an awareness of Greek architecture was The Antiquities of Athens: Measured and Delineated by English architects and antiquarians James Stuart and Nicholas Revett. Conceived during the Enlightenment, when there was interest in ancient cultures, the work was subsidized and published by the Society of Dilettanti (an English group of men who had all partook in the Grand Tour. Sir Joshua Reynolds was a member of the group who painted several portraits of its members). This text is noteworthy for containing the first meticulously measured drawings of ancient Greek architecture, giving the Western world access to their natural architectural perfection. To make the text as accurate as possible, Stuart and Revett spent four years (1751–5) documenting architectural monuments in and around Athens before returning to England to begin the publishing process. Although it was intended to be the first text of its kind, the drawn out publishing process allowed for a Frenchman, Julien-David Le Roy to produce Les Ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grèce (Paris, 1758) five years before the first volume of The Antiquities of Athens appeared. Despite publication delays, and then its gradual release, The Antiquities of Athens’ influence was international and it became a manual (historian James F. O’Gorman uses the word “Bible”) for the “Greek Revival” across Europe as well as in North America, c. 1810s–1840s.

      An illustration from Volume One of the text depicts the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. Located near the acropolis, this monument was erected around 334 BCE to commemorate an athletic or choral victory. This circular structure is thirteen feet high, made of marble, and around the exterior are six engaged Corinthian columns—some of the earliest of that type. Now lost is a tripod trophy that at one point surmounted the monument.

      A visual and ideological counterpoint to the pursuit of a more pure architectural source is the picturesque landscape garden Stourhead located in Wiltshire, England, the vision of banker Sir Henry Hoare. Designed over decades, Stourhead’s vistas were completely constructed—earth was moved, a lake was formed by damming a local river, and flora was planted. Hoare aimed to make mimic the painted landscapes found in the paintings of French Baroque painters Claude Lorrain and Nicholas Poussin. Indeed, Hoare had collected Lorrain’s Coast View of Delos with Aeneas (1672), which influenced the designs. For example, the garden included bridges and a building with a dome, imitating the Pantheon in Rome, motifs found in Lorrain’s paintings. The winding path through the garden began and ended at the house, leading one around the irregular lake that forms the garden’s centerpiece. Along the way, one was supposed to stop at certain points to admire views and pavilions constructed in differing architectural styles.

      Palladian architect Henry Flitcroft was commissioned to construct several pavilions for Stourhead: the aforementioned Pantheon (constructed between 1753–4), the Temple of Apollo (constructed in 1765), and the triangular 160-foot brick structure King Alfred’s Tower (designed 1765, constructed between 1769-72)—the top of which can be reach through an internal spiral staircase. In 1765, the Bristol Cross was moved from its original Bristol location to Hoare’s park. Over the centuries there has been debate among historians as to how the Virgilian inscriptions on the pavilions should be interpreted, and how that affects in the viewer’s experience in the garden.

      Politically, the full embodiment of Enlightenment ideals was reached during the American and French Revolutions that took place at the end of the eighteenth century and the early part of the nineteenth century. The United States Capitol (c. 1793–1828, 1851–7, and 1856–63) in Washington D.C. became a beacon to Enlightenment ideas, adhering to the Classical spirit in its architecture’s revolutionary Neoclassical style. The federal building was envisioned as a seventeen-room brick building that would house the legislative branch of government.

      The fact that the U.S. Capitol was originally envisioned as a brick building may come as a surprise for students, who by this time are used to seeing European architecture constructed of fine stone. At the turn of the nineteenth century, American architects and builders were still uncomfortable and quite untrained in using this material. The lack of confidence architects and builders had for building stone was balanced by their assurance in using brick. Brick’s flexible recipe, permanence, and skill requirement allowed it to used across American in building construction. On the eastern seaboard, it was a material that that been in use since 1618 (the first brick building was the Fourth Jamestown Church—Jamestown was founded in 1607).

      As time progressed, other functions were added to the Capitol, such as Washington’s tomb and setting aside a space for the Supreme Court. In initial submissions, American gentlemen architects/builders failed to create adequate elegant and monumental forms that would define the nation’s new building type. President Washington called them ‘dull.’ Ultimately, the chosen design was a synthesis of competition submissions, which had referenced many aspects of other state houses, namely: a portico, a dome, a central public space, and the two houses opposite one another.

      Despite having many different creators (William Thornton, B. H. Latrobe, Charles Bulfinch and Thomas U. Walter—who were a mixture of professional and gentlemen architects), the Capitol’s various parts are united in the Neoclassical style, with the focal point being Walter’s dome (1856–63), modeled after the Pantheon. Construction of the Capitol pushed American builders out of their material comfort zones. Originally proposed as a brick structure, it was decided that ashlar masonry should be used for the exterior. For the vaulting, Thomas Jefferson wanted to use wood, but Latrobe pushed for masonry. Decades later, builders were pushed to their technological limits using a new material—iron, both cast and wrought—to create the Capitol’s famous dome.

      Nineteenth century architecture is memorable for its quick succession of historical revival styles, including the Greek Revival, the Gothic Revival, and the Queen Anne Style (a.k.a. the Aesthetic Movement), as well as introducing some major architectural publications and new building types. I hope to give a sense of the complexity of the nineteenth century architectural situation by highlighting select architectural examples, architectural texts, and new building types.

      The Greek Revival

      The facade of Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum in Berlin is a prime example of Greek Revival architecture. The museum is a large box with eighteen fluted Ionic columns in front, surmounted by a smaller box. The building’s sheer breadth—it takes up almost the whole width of the northern end of the Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden)—and its façade, distilled to vertical and strong horizontal elements (arches are a feature synonymous with Roman architecture), are the more primitive/pure Greek architectural characteristics to which Schinkel alluded. The most direct visual source would be the Athenian stoa poikile, the ancient covered colonnade in the agora.

      This building did much to revitalize the heart of the city. First, by placing the museum at the north end of the Pleasure Garden, Schinkel inevitably elevated the art museum’s position in society because it took its place among three other important buildings: the Royal Palace, the Cathedral, and the Arsenal. Second, Schinkel carefully controlled the viewing experience of this building. Around 1830, one approached the Altes Museum from Berlin’s main boulevard Unter den Linden (“Under the Linden Trees”—the boulevard was lined with them). Down the street, the Royal Palace anchors the viewer’s vista. As one approached the palace the trees would frame a view of the Cathedral. Upon crossing the bridge and entering the southern end of the Pleasure Garden, the view of the Altes Museum would finally be visible.

      Internally, Schinkel forcefully argued for the rotunda, a space he felt would prepare visitors to experience the building and view works of art.

      Schinkel’s Altes Museum façade conveyed his understanding of the principles underlying the pure linear forms of Greek architecture. Other architects opted for a more direct quotation of Greek architecture.

      In the United States, a fine example of Greek Revival architecture is William Strickland’s Tennessee State Capitol (Nashville, 1845–9). Well-trained (Strickland was trained by B. Henry Latrobe, whom we met above with the U.S. Capitol) and well-traveled (Strickland went to Europe in 1838, traveling through England, France, Italy and Germany. Images from his European sketchbook have been made available online at the Tennessee Virtual Archive “William Strickland Sketchbook”.), Strickland demonstrated his broad working knowledge of historic architectural sources in the Tennessee State Capitol.

      In the Capitol, Strickland referenced a different order (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian) in each main section of the building. Working from the ground upwards, the Capitol had a Doric basement, Ionic porticos, and a Corinthian tower. The Erechtheum (the Acropolis, Athens, Greece) inspired the Ionic porticos, and Strickland used plates of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates found in The Antiquities of Athens as inspiration for the lantern for his building. Strickland modified the forms of the ancient original with windows to suit modern needs.

      The Gothic Revival

      The Gothic Revival began in Britain and spread internationally and across continents. Arguably the greatest monument to the Gothic Revival is the New Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament (London, 1835–68).

      The Old Palace of Westminster was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1834. On August 18, 1835, a Royal Commission was issued to rebuild the Palace and debate ensued over its appropriate style. Two main camps emerged: Neoclassical versus Gothic. Those in favor of the Neoclassical style supplied evidence such as the style’s popularity and its successful track record in high profile public commissions, such as the United States Capitol. Those who felt that the Gothic would be more appropriate supported their case with the following concepts that would be best articulated by A.W.N. Pugin, in his books Contrasts (1836) and True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841):

      • Harmony/Fitness: It was believed that there exists a connection between culture and architectural expression. The Gothic style surfaced during the medieval ages. The architecture produced was viewed as being perfectly in harmony to its needs. During the Gothic Revival, it was hoped that if buildings were constructed in that earlier style that it might resurrect some of the sentiments and the harmony perceived as missing from modern society.
      • Nationalism/Patriotism: At this time it was believed that each culture creates its own distinct style that suits its culture and climate. In the nineteenth century, Gothic architecture was perceived as being an indigenous English style, it would be only natural to draw upon England’s own architectural heritage and not an imported style from the southern European continent. Neoclassical architectural style would further be unsuited to England as it is an architecture produced for its milder Mediterranean climate and would be unsuited to the weather conditions of the north.
      • Function/Honesty: Gothic architecture was viewed as being an honest form of architecture, in which everything included contributed to its construction. Gothic ornament was judiciously placed to enrich and accent structural lines.

      In the end it was decided that architects submit designs in either the Gothic or Elizabethan style. Architect Charles Barry (1795–1860), best known for his classical and Italianate designs, submitted the winning design. Because of his more classical specialty, he employed the talents of A.W.N. Pugin, the vociferous Gothic revivalist mentioned above. The workload between the two men was neatly divided, Barry designed space and structure and Pugin designed the ornament and the interiors.

      Barry’s design was successful for multiple reasons. First, the Houses of Parliament was built on the site of the Old Palace of Westminster and successfully integrated the surviving structures (Westminster Hall and St. Stephen’s Chapel) into the new building complex. Second, Barry created a harmonious—though slightly asymmetrical picturesque—exterior by balancing the horizontal and vertical lines.

      The exterior’s recognizable sand-colored limestone came from Anston Quarry in Yorkshire. This particular stone was selected for its cost effectiveness and because it is a sedimentary rock, it could be easily manipulated. In the twentieth century, parts of the building in which the stone had eroded significantly were replaced with a honey-colored limestone from Medwells Quarry in Rutland.

      Third, Barry’s classical training strongly influenced his logical arrangement of rooms and courtyards, which he based around the classical system of repeating modules. This can best be appreciated by viewing a floorplan of the structure. Four branches of the building radiate out in the cardinal directions: north, south, east and west from a centrally located octagonal lobby. Barry placed the Throne room (located in the House of Lords), the House of Lords, and the House of Commons in line with one another, a subtle underscoring of the line of power in the English government. Pugin designs for the interiors included furniture, tiles, stained glass, and metal work. His most sumptuous decoration appears in the House of Lords, where seemingly every square inch is encrusted with medieval-inspired decoration.

      Switching to the United States, architects such as Richard Upjohn’s used Pugin’s books as a manual to design Gothic Revival buildings like Trinity Church (New York City, NY, 1839–46). Trinity Church was one of the most noteworthy commissions executed in America in the Gothic Revival style. In Trinity Church, one sees a shift occurring in American taste from the Classically inspired to the Gothic and Picturesque. Trinity Church espoused the ideals from leaders of the English Gothic Revival, and Upjohn based its design on an illustration of an “ideal church” from Pugin’s True Principles. Upjohn tweaked several aspects of Pugin’s design to accommodate American building methods and the site such as the vaulting, the pitch of the roof, and the chancel. Longitudinal in plan and made of brownstone masonry, the church was not as elaborately decorated as it could have been.

      The Grammar of Ornament

      Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament (London, 1856) is a design manual that has inspired countless generations of architects and designers. Conceived during era of English design reform, the Grammar of Ornament became Jones’ aesthetic treatise. The Grammar of Ornament contains Jones’ 37 propositions (principles) of design, nineteen chapters dedicated to historical types of ornament, and a single chapter dedicated to the common denominator behind all ornament—nature appeared in 100 chromolithographed plates, in which there were 1,000 cropped illustrations ornament, which removed any hint of an original context.

      The quality of the lithographic plates is one factor that made the Grammar of Ornament famous. The content of the Grammar of Ornament appealed to architects, designers, and reform design thinkers, as John Kresten Jespersen writes, “for a century (after its publication), almost every architect’s office had a copy of the Grammar of Ornament.” The intent of this publication was not to give architects, ornamentalists and designers a template from which to copy in their work, rather to allow individuals to absorb lessons from the past and apply this information to the ornament that would suit modern life.

      The Skyscraper

      The skyscraper is an American invention. Created in the second half of the nineteenth century and refined throughout the rest of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, skyscrapers—from the very beginning—have been symbols of commerce and prestige. The skyscraper is the first instance where the architectural story begins in America and then spread overseas. Scholars agree that a skyscraper must contain three features:

      • Significant Height: (more vertical than horizontal) This building type was created to suit the need for increased building space in major urban areas, the two most important of which were New York City and Chicago. The scarcity and the cost of land in these and other urban areas forced architects to build in only one direction—upwards.
      • Passenger Elevators: As human beings are usually opposed to walk up more that five flights of stairs, the incorporation of passenger elevators were a blessing. Elevators made each and every floor just as easily accessible and rentable, enabling building to be higher.
      • Metal Frame: Iron’s popularity increased in the middle of the nineteenth century as architects discovered its potential in building construction. Iron was used two ways in architecture: cast and wrought. Cast iron was a strong metal, capable of carrying great weights by compression. Major flaws of cast iron included its brittleness in terms of ductility as well as the irregularity of its compositional makeup. Wrought iron was not as strong as cast iron, but had an advantage in that it could assume any number of shapes. The combination of cast iron posts and more extensive wrought beams revolutionized the way in which architects envisioned structure and space.

      In short, iron allowed architects to build taller and span wider distances than ever before. In other words, advancements made in skyscraper height are closely tied to advancements in building technologies that supported them. Beginning in the 1880s, the more expensive and specialized product, steel began to replace iron as the preferred structural building material (as it contained the same/or increased strength of cast iron and the ductility of wrought iron). In the 1880’s, the first architects made the switch from iron to steel.

      The earliest example of a skyscraper may surprise you. Noted authorities Weisman and Condit concur that Gilman, Kendall & Post’s Equitable Life Assurance Company Building (New York City, 1868–70 destroyed) is the first skyscraper, since it was the first building that was designed and built containing all three of the aforementioned skyscraper features. Our twenty-first-century eyes, accustomed to seeing skyscrapers as enormous structures built of a curtain of metal and glass, would likely not recognize Equitable Life Assurance Company Building as an early descendant. This lost structure (for which no plans survive) is known only through images and building records. At 130 feet in height, this building was not significantly taller than surrounding commercial buildings. Yet, the conscious incorporation of the elevator transformed commercial architecture, as it allowed all eight stories to be easily reached, and therefore easily rentable.

      Architects cloaked the Equitable’s iron skeleton in the only way they knew how: with a grey-granite masonry, arranged with tiers—separated by entablatures—and capped with a hipped roof. In images the structure has a very Second Empire appearance, a style believed to be chosen for its ability, given Haussmann’s opulent Paris, to signify stability and prosperity. From the very beginning, skyscrapers served as office buildings. Throughout the later nineteenth century architects worked to give a characteristic facade to the skyscraper. Two major trends emerged: “wild work” and the Italian Renaissance palace, which can easily be illustrated with noteworthy period examples.

      In Chicago, William LeBaron Jenney’s Home Insurance Building, c. 1885 is an example of “wild work.” “Wild work” was a descriptor used by eminent late-nineteenth century architectural critic Montgomery Schuyler to refer to facades like this one. What Schuyler found wild, or mind-boggling, about this building was the ways in which the horizontal and vertical lines were constantly interrupted. The Home Insurance Building is also noteworthy as it was the first building to use steel construction.

      In New York City, the firm of McKim, Mead, and White gravitated towards a three-part skyscraper façade, evident in the American Safe Deposit Company Building, (1882–4). This building’s three parts (basement, shaft, and third tier of space at the top) are neatly defined. Three-part façade divisions like this inspired critic Montgomery Schuyler (who we just met above) in 1899 to liken such surfaces to the three parts of a classical column: base, shaft, and capital. Over the years, Schuyler’s metaphor has been applied to, and used to explain numerous facades, and has mutated to become the accepted explanation, but is wrong. This type of façade was inspired by Italian Renaissance Palaces such as the tripartite façade of the fourteenth/fifteenth century Palazzo Davanzati, which likewise has a basement, a shaft, and a third tier of space at the top–complete with an order in the loggia. The tripartite formula became a popular pattern used by architects across the nation such as Daniel H. Burnham & Company’s Flatiron Building (New York City, 1901–3). Even two-decades after this façade pattern had been first implemented, it had yet to fall out of style.

      The Aesthetic Movement

      Aesthetic Movement architecture (which is usually called the Queen Anne Style) began in England in the 1860s and then came to America in the 1870s. It was largely used as a secular architectural style, which some critics considered to be a major flaw (since it did not transition into sacred commissions). This style was characterized by its freedom, especially in color, picturesque, and asymmetrical design, and complex ornament. One of its greatest practitioners was R. Norman Shaw and one of the most famous buildings was the New Zealand Chambers Building (London, 1871–3 destroyed), an office building. Shaw used architectural elements to break up flat surfaces and shatter the light across the exterior of this building. The tendency to create highly textured facades would become a feature associated with Aesthetic Movement architecture on both sides of the Atlantic.

      H. Richardson’s William Watts Sherman House (Newport, Rhode Island, 1874–6 and numerous additions) was one of America’s earliest Aesthetic Movement architectural works. Most Americans would be introduced to the other aspects of the Aesthetic Movement at the Centennial Exposition in 1876. The Sherman Residence was a combination of established and innovative architectural features. The established features included the asymmetry (attempting to break the box) of early nineteenth century homes. The innovative feature was a new form of space—the living hall. The Sherman House’s living hall stretched the depth of the building and contained a hearth and a massive staircase. A variety of rooms (public, private, servant quarters) radiated off this living hall which produced an irregular floorplan.

      The irregularity of the floor plan was expressed in the asymmetry of the façade’s exterior. Within the gables Richardson created the silhouette of a saltbox house. The inclusion of this profile is noteworthy as Richardson revived a distinctive aspect of American colonial architecture. Additionally, on the facade, Richardson varied surface texture, allowing light to break apart on the surface, causing a scintillating effect. Inside, a selection of decorative objects—such as art glass—further underscored the philosophy of the Aesthetic Movement.

      Second Empire Paris and Ecole des Beaux Arts Classicism

      Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera House (Paris, 1862–75) is a building about spectacle. A grand structure, it was one of many that fit into Baron Haussmann’s revitalization of urban Paris. The Opera’s spectacle begins with its location. Built on its own island, it is approachable from several streets and the major Avenue de l’Opera, terminating in its own Place (a plaza or square). Though one may be distracted from the shear amount of ornament on the façade, the exterior overlooking the Place can be distilled into a podium-like arcaded base, atop which Garnier placed a colonnade. This colonnade was a recognizable variation of the two-part façade that Bramante’s House of Raphael popularized back in the Italian Renaissance, now quite popular in Paris. Garnier proceeded to adorn this classical façade with sculptural accents for which he employed some of the finest artistic talents in Paris—such as Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, who sculpted The Dance.

      The building’s entrances were designed to accommodate the societal needs of different opera-goers, from the Emperor to the bourgeois. Once inside, the spaces Garnier created is the mark of the classical training regimen of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the institution that taught Garnier. The spacious lobbies, wide staircases, and sumptuous veneered surfaces served as dramatic platforms and backdrops to an environment designed for people to see and be seen. Underneath these elaborate surfaces, the Opera’s structure made use of the latest advancements in iron construction. Inside and out, this building makes use of Classical sources.

      Although there were almost 200 structures built for the World’s Columbian Exposition (hereafter WCE—Chicago, 1891–3), the fair became a dialectic of two courses in American architecture, Ecole des Beaux Arts classicism (evident in the architecture of the Court of Honor) and Picturesque/Aesthetic Movement (evident in the architecture surrounding the Lagoon). In America, leading up to the WCE, picturesque traditions such as the Aesthetic Movement—with their colored, asymmetrical, and scintillating surfaces—were popular.

      For example, Louis Sullivan’s predominantly red and gold Transportation Building extended this visual tradition to the WCE. In contrast, the majority of the main fair structures were constructed in the tradition taught at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. These fair buildings were unified by their coloring (white), classically inspired architectural elements, unified cornice line (65’), and axial symmetry. Beaux Arts classicism had such an effect on fairgoers that it would become the favored architectural style in America for the next several decades.

      The differences between these two architectural vogues were further underscored in the WCE’s landscaped environments, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted’s landscape architecture for the Court of Honor was a well proportioned symmetrical basin in perfect tandem with the balanced (all buildings had a 65’ cornice line) and symmetrical Ecole des Beaux Arts classicism surrounding it. For the lagoon area, Olmsted designed an irregularly shaped lagoon, in the middle of which was a wooded island with picturesque trails.


      Watch the video: pelt choragic (November 2021).