Gothic Revival Architecture

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Gothic Revival Architecture The term "Gothic Revival" sometimes called Victorian Gothic usually refers to the period of mock-Gothic architecture practised in the second half of the 19th century. That time frame can be a little deceiving however for the Gothic style never really died in England after the end of the medieval period. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries when classical themes ruled the fashion-conscious world of architecture Gothic style can be seen if intermittently. This is because many architects were asked to remodel medieval buildings in a way that blended in with the older styles. Christopher Wren the master of classical style for example added Gothic elements to several of his London churches St. Michael Cornhill and St. Dunstan-in-the- East. William Kents gatehouse at Hampton Court Palace 1723 fit in flawlessly with Cardinal Wolseys original Tudor Gothic. When Nicholas Hawksmoor remodeled the west towers at Westminster Abbey from 1723 he did so in a sympathetic Gothic style. In the late 18th century running in parallel as it were with raging classicism was a school of romanticized Gothic architecture popularized by Batty Langleys pattern books of medieval details. This medieval style was most common in domestic building where the classical style overwhelmingly prevailed in public buildings. One of the prime movers of a new interest in Gothic style was Horace Walpole. Walpoles country house at Strawberry Hill Twickenham A Gothic Revival church

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1750 was a fancifully romantic Gothic cottage. The style adopted by Walpole termed not surprisingly "Strawberry Hill Gothic" took many of the decorative elements of exterior medieval Gothic and moved them to the interior of the house. Thus Walpoles rooms are adorned - some might say over-adorned - with touches like cusped ceilings and crocketed arches. Little of Walpoles style is what you could call "authentic" he merely took decorative touches and strewed them about with abandon. The controversial result is very much open to criticism you either love it or hate it but few people are ambivalent about it. Other architects tried their hand at Gothic style. Even Robert Adam the master of neo-classical country house architecture used Gothic elements for example at Culzean Castle where the exterior crenellation recalls a medieval fortress. James Wyatt was the most prominent 18th century architect employing Gothic style in many of his buildings. His Ashridge Park Hertfordshire begun in 1806 is the best surviving example of his work. At Ashridge Wyatt employed a huge central hall open to the roof in conscious imitation of a medieval great hall. Into the early years of the 19th century many architects dabbled in Gothic style but as with Walpole it was more the decorative touches that appealed to them little bits of carving here a dab of pointed arch there. Most paid scant heed to authentic proportion which is one of the most powerful moving forces of "real" Gothic style. Gothic Revival cottage

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Even when the shapes used by builders were Gothic the structure was not. Columns and piers were made with iron cores covered over with plaster. In the early 19th century Gothic was considered more suitable for church and university buildings where classical style was thought more appropriate for public and commercial buildings. Good examples of university Gothic can be seen at Cambridge for example the Bridge of Sighs at St. Johns College 1826 and the gateway at Kings College 1822-24. It is really only after 1840 the the Gothic Revival began to gather steam and when it did the prime movers were not architects at all but philosophers and social critics. This is the really curious aspect of the Victorian Gothic revival it intertwined with deep moral and philosophical ideals in a way that may seem hard to comprehend in todays world. Men like A.W. Pugin and writer John Ruskin The Seven Lamps of Architecture 1849 sincerely believed that the Middle Ages was a watershed in human achievement and that Gothic architecture represented the perfect marriage of spiritual and artistic values. Ruskin allied himself with the Pre-Raphaelites and vocally advocated a return to the values of craftsmanship artistic and spiritual beauty in architecture and the arts in general. Ruskin and his brethren declared that only those materials which had been available for use in the Middle Ages should be employed in Gothic Revival buildings. Even more narrow-minded than Ruskin were followers of the "ecclesiological movement" which began in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Adherents Gothic Revival window

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of the ecclesiological movement believed that only the Gothic style was suitable for church architecture but not just any Gothic style To them the "Middle Pointed" or Decorated style prevalent in the late 13th to mid 14th century was the only true Gothic. The bible of the movement was the monthly publication The Ecclesiologist which was published from 1841-1868. The publication was in essence a style-guide to proper Gothic architecture and design. But all this theory needed some practical buildings to illustrate the ideals. The greatest example of authentic Gothic Revival is the Palace of Westminster The Houses of Parliament. The Palace of Westminster was rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry and A.W. Pugin after a disastrous fire destroyed the old buildings in 1834. While Barry oversaw the construction much of the design is Pugins a design he carried out in exacting Perpendicular Gothic style inside and out. The period from 1855-1885 is known as High Victorian Gothic. In this period architects like William Butterfield Keble College Chapel Oxford and Sir George Gilbert Scott The Albert Memorial London created a profusion of buildings in varying degrees of adherence to strict Gothic style. High Victorian Gothic was applied to a dizzying variety of architectural projects from hotels to railroad stations schools to civic centres. Despite the strident voice of the Ecclesiological Society buildings were not limited to the Decorated period style but embraced Early English Perpendicular and even Romanesque styles. Were the Gothic Revivalists successful Certainly the Victorian Gothic style is easy to pick out from the original medieval. One of the reasons for this was a lack of trained craftsmen to carry out the necessary work. Original medieval building was time-consuming and labour-intensive. Yet there was a large pool of labourers skilled Westminster Palace

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in the necessary techniques techniques which were handed down through the generations that it might take to finish a large architectural project. Victorian Gothic builders lacked that pool of skilled labourers to draw upon so they were eventually forced to evolve methods of mass-producing decorative elements. These mass-produced touches no matter how well made were too polished too perfect and lacked the organic roughness of original medieval work. Gothic Architecture in England Gothic architecture in Britain has been neatly divided into 4 periods or styles. The person who did the dividing that has been obediently followed by subsequent generations of writers and historians was Thomas Rickman 1776-1841. In his 1817 work "An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation" whew what a mouthful Rickman labeled the styles Norman Early English Decorated and Perpendicular. Like any classification system in the arts these styles cannot be dogmatically assigned dates but for the sake of simplicity lets do it anyway. The term "Gothic" itself needs some explaining. The original style of building - one

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might call it a philosophy of architecture - sprang up in the Ile de France and was known during the Middle Ages as "the French Style". Gothic Time Periods  Norman Gothic 1066-1200  Early English Gothic 1200-1275  Decorated Gothic 1275-1375  Perpendicular Gothic 1375 - 1530+ Wells Cathedral Chapter House It was not until the 16th century that art critic Giorgio Vassari derisively compared medieval architecture to the barbarism and presumed lack of taste of the Goths who had ravaged Rome. It was only then that the term "Gothic" came into vogue. So what were the characteristics of a Gothic building Generally speaking Gothic architecture emphasized strong vertical lines high vaulted ceilings minimal wall space pointed window and door openings and buttressed walls. But these characteristic Gothic themes did not spring into being overnight. Lets see how the style of Gothic architecture evolved in Britain.

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The Norman Gothic period 1066-1200 wasnt a whole lot different from Gothic elsewhere in Europe. The British temperament had yet to stamp its own mark on the new "French style". The buildings of this time are transitional - many still have the thick piers and rounded window openings of the earlier Romanesque style. Vaulting and decoration are simple there is little sign of the elaborate stonework to come. Some good examples of the Norman Gothic period are: Durham Cathedral Wells Cathedral and ElyCathedralwesttower1150-75. It is in the Early English period 1200-1275 that the Gothic style became truly adapted by English craftsmen/architects. This period is also called "Lancet" referring to the pointed lancet windows narrow untraceried that characterize it. Form is still austere and proportion is magnificently simple. The main points of Early English are: quadripartite ribbing in vaults slender towers topped with spires lancet windows - both single and grouped - and piers with narrow clustered shafts. The finest example of Early English is to be found at Salisbury Cathedral. Bath Abbey vaulting

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Decorated Gothic 1275-1375 - aka Geometric Curvilinear and Flamboyant - These terms describe primarily the fanciful tracery and ornamentation found in the window heads during this time. Windows were wider than the earlier lancet openings see above. This widening and the lessening in wall area that naturally accompanied it was made possible by the invention of the flying buttress. Improved vaulting techniques also helped take the strain of supporting the buildings weight off the walls which could then become little more than shells with broad window openings. Stone decoration was rich and varied and window glass more colorful. Stone carvings and paintings abound. The best example of the Decorated period you can visit today is at Exeter Cathedral. The final flourishing of Gothic in Britain was the Perpendicular period 1375- 1530+. The name suggests its chief characteristic - strong vertical lines in window tracery and wall paneling. Vaults were elaborate fan shapes and the flying buttress became a flowing decorative feature as well as supplying its essential supporting strength. Most parish churches in Britain date from the Medieval Gothic period and it can be a fascinating exercise to trace the changes in style as the church was remodelled over time. You can often find simple Early English elements cheek-by-jowl with Decorated and Perpendicular additions. Towers in particular were elaborately decorated and pinnacled and windows became massive traceried spider-webs of stone like lace. Wall space was at a minimum which had the effect of introducing a wonderful feeling of light and spaciousness into the interior of these buildings. Some of the many excellent

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Perpendicular Gothic buildings to see today include Kings College Chapel Cambridge 1446-1515 Henry VIIs chapel at Westminster Abbey 1503-19 and Bath Abbey 1501-39. The naves of Canterbury Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral were also rebuilt in the Perpendicular style during this time. All of the examples cited in this article are cathedrals. This is because it was generally only in the great churches that the architects of the time were given creative license. But there are also less exalted examples to be found. Most parish churches in Britain date from the Medieval Gothic period and it can be a fascinating exercise to trace the changes in style as the church was remodelled over time. You can often find simple Early English elements cheek-by-jowl with Decorated and Perpendicular additions. Victorian architecture is a fairly complex topic. The reason is because different countries have different forms of Victorian architecture. So when speaking about it in England it is different than when you speak of Victorian architecture in the United States. France and Italy also had their own variations of Victorian architecture. Generally though the style derives from when Queen Victoria was reigning as monarch in England. Generally though the actual style may extend a little bit further past her reign according to many architects.

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Victorian Architecture Style Many of these Victorian style homes still stand today. It is actually still a style that many people will follow. What you find among most of the Victorian styles is that many of them use shingles. This was a new item which stems from the industrial revolution. The use of shingles frequently allowed for much more intricate roofs although the Italian Victorian Style homes which you may find in America often had very simple and low roofs. However there was a common style that we still see today referred to as the Victorian Shingle Style architecture. These homes with this style often have several gables use of shingles. Even lower floors on large homes will have separate overhangs over them which use shingles for the roofing. There were a few forms of the Victorian architecture which did not feature shingles. You can look at both the Second Empire and Gothic Revival forms of

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Victorian architecture which may be seen more commonly around England than other countries. These generally have sharp pointed roofs and much more intricate detail on them. They give a sense of height on them where they often extend far past the actual use of the building. Some say that the influence came from medieval buildings. Then you can not forget the much simpler styles of Victorian homes. The stick architecture as well as the Folk Victorian style are both relatively simple homes. The Folk Victorian primarily used trim and things which were in mass production throughout the industrial revolution and continue to be today. However the stick architecture were generally fairly simple architecture which used timber throughout the exterior to give a more custom feel to it. They were frequently quite square with no gables. Victorian House Styles 1840 to 1900 The amazing Victorian builders Born during the Industrial Revolution they embraced new materials and technologies to create houses like no one had ever seen before. Mass-production and mass-transit made ornamental parts affordable. Victorian architects and builders applied decoration liberally combining features borrowed from many different eras with flourishes from their own imaginations. When you look at a house built during the Victorian era you might see Greek Revival pediments Federalist Style balustrades and other Colonial Revival details. You may also see medieval ideas such as Gothic windows and exposed trusses. And of course youll find lots of brackets spindles scrollwork and other machine- made building parts.

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So it happens that theres not just one Victorian style but many each with its own unique array of features. Here are a few of the most popular. Italianate Lewis House in Upstate New York. 1. Italianate Style During the 1840s when the Victorian era was just gearing up Italianate style houses became the hot new trend. The style spread quickly across the USA via widely-published pattern books. With low roofs wide eaves and ornamental brackets Victorian Italianate houses suggest an Italian Renaissance villa. Some even sport a romantic cupola on the roof.

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Lyndhurst in Tarrytown New York. Photo Courtesy WalkingGeek/Flickr 2. Gothic Revival Style Medieval architecture and the great cathedrals of the Gothic age inspired all sorts of flourishes during the Victorian era. Builders gave houses arches pointed windows and other elements borrowed from the middle ages. Some Victorian Gothic Revival homes are grand stone buildings like miniature castles. Others are rendered in wood. Small wooden cottages with Gothic Revival features are called Carpenter Gothic. Queen Anne House in Upstate New York. 3. Queen Anne Style Towers turrets and rounded porches give Queen Anne architecture regal airs. But the style has nothing to do with British royalty and Queen Anne houses do not

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resemble buildings from the medieval times of the English Queen Anne. Instead Queen Anne architecture expresses the exuberance and inventiveness of industrial- age builders. Study the style and youll discover several different subtypes proving that theres no end to the variety of the Queen Anne style. Folk Victorian House in Sandwich New Hampshire. 4. Folk Victorian Style Folk Victorian is a generic vernacular Victorian style. Builders added spindles or Gothic windows to simple square and L-shaped buildings. A creative carpenter with a newly-invented jigsaw may have created complicated trim but look beyond the fancy dressing and youll see a no-nonsense farmhouse. Victorian Shingle Style House.

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5. Shingle Style Often built in coastal areas Shingle Style homes are rambling and austere. But the simplicity of the style is deceptive. These large informal homes were adopted by the wealthy for lavish summer homes. Amazingly a Shingle Style house isnt always sided with shingles More » The Physick House in Cape May New Jersey. 6. Stick Style Houses Stick style houses are as the name implies decorated with intricate stickwork and half-timbering. Vertical horizontal and diagonal boards create elaborate patterns on the facade. But if you look past these surface details a stick style house is relatively plain. Stick Style houses dont have big bay windows or fancy ornaments.

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Jordan House in Auburn Maine designed and built by Charles A. Jordan ca 1880. 7. Second Empire Style Mansard Style On first glance you might mistake a Second Empire house for an Italianate. Both have a somewhat boxy shape. But a Second Empire house will always have a high mansard roof. Inspired by the architecture in Paris during the reign of Napoleon III Second Empire is also known as the Mansard Style. Castle Marne Bed and Breakfast in Denver Colorado.

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8. Richardsonian Romanesque Style Architect Henry Hobson Richardson is often credited with popularizing these romantic buildings. Constructed of stone they resemble small castles. Romanesque was used more often for large public buildings but some private homes were also built in the imposing Romanesque style. Because of Richardsons great influence on architecture in the US his 1877 Trinity Church in Boston has been called one of the Ten Buildings That Changed America. Queen Anne home with Eastlake details. photo 9. Eastlake Style The ornate spindles and knobs found on so many Queen Anne houses were inspired by the decorative furniture by English designer Charles Eastlake. When we call a house Eastlake were usually describing any number of Victorian styles with Eastlake decorations.

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Victorian Octagon House. 10. Octagon Style In the mid-1800s innovative builders experimented with 8-sided houses which they believed would provide more light and ventilation. Octagon houses are rare. The few that remain are wonderful reminders of Victorian ingenuity.

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