1400 A.D. TO THE PRESENT TIME.
ALL Architecture since the time of the Renaissance is called Modern Architecture; this term, therefore, embraces all edifices erected during nearly four centuries.
When I first spoke of Architecture I said that it was a constructive art, and not imitative like Painting and Sculpture. In its earlier history this was true, but the time came when it also became an imitative art and had no true or original style. The Gothic order was the last distinct order which arose, and since its decline, at the beginning of the Renaissance, all architecture has been an imitation because it is a reproduction of what existed before; at times some one of the older orders has been in favor and closely imitated, and again, parts of several orders are combined in one edifice. Since the time of the Reformation it has been true, almost without exception, that every building of any importance has been copied from something belonging to a country and a people foreign to the land in which it was erected.
When the revival of Classic Literature began, Rome was the first to feel its influence. It was welcomed there with open arms, just as we might receive the early history and literature of our country if it had all been lost and was found again; for this was precisely what it meant to the134 Romans, when, after the Dark Ages, the works of Livy, Tacitus, and Cæsar were in their hands, and they read of the history, art, and literature of their past. They were enthusiastic, and their feeling soon spread over all Italy.
France was the next to adopt the newly-revived ideas, for that country looked to Rome as the source of true religion, and a model in all things. Spain was then in an unsettled state, and welcomed the revival of classic art as heartily as it had already embraced the Church of Rome.
In Germany the love of the classics was enthusiastic, but that nation was more taken up with literature and slower in adopting the revival of the arts than were the more southern peoples, and the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are a barren period in the history of German architecture.
In England, too, the Renaissance made slow progress. It was not until the time of Charles I. that any influence was felt in Great Britain from the revival of classic taste which was so well established on the Continent.
As it is true that no new order of Architecture has arisen since the time of those of which I have already told you, I shall try to make you understand something of Modern Architecture by speaking of certain important edifices in one country and another, with no attempt at any more detailed explanation of it.
We cannot say that the art of the Renaissance originated in one city or another, because the movement in the revival of art was so general throughout Italy; but Florence has a strong claim to our first consideration from the fact that Filippo Brunelleschi was a Florentine and did his greatest work in his native city, and on account of it has been called “the father of the Art of the Renaissance.” He was born in 1377, and from his early boyhood was inclined to be an architect. The cathedral of Florence (Fig. 102), which is136 also called the church of Sta. Maria del Fiore, had been built long before, but had never been finished by a roof or dome.
Brunelleschi was possessed with but one desire, which was to complete this cathedral. He went to Rome and diligently studied the remains of classic art which he found there, and especially the dome of the Pantheon. Returning to Florence he took measures to bring his plans before the superintendents of the cathedral works; he was ridiculed and discouraged on every hand, but he never gave up his hopes nor lessened his study of the ways and means by which the dome could be built. Thus many weary years passed by; Brunelleschi made drawings in secret, and from these he constructed models in order to convince himself of what he could do.
At last those who had authority in the matter were ready to act, and a convention was called, before which the architects of different nations appeared and were requested to explain their theories of what could be done to cover the cathedral. Many artists were assembled and various plans were shown, but after all had been examined the work was given to Brunelleschi, and he was happy in finding that the years he had devoted to the study of the dome had not been spent in vain.
It was on this occasion that Brunelleschi refused to show his models, and when the other architects blamed him for this he asked that some eggs should be brought, and proposed that he who could make an egg stand upright on a smooth piece of marble should be the builder of the dome. The others tried to do this and failed; at last Brunelleschi brought his egg down on the marble with a sharp tap and left it standing erect. Then all exclaimed, “Oh, we could have done that if we had known that was the way,” to which Brunelleschi replied, “So you could have built a dome if I had shown you my models.”
138 This story is often told of Columbus, but as Brunelleschi was much older than Columbus, and the fact is related by Florentine writers of his time, it is probable that Columbus had heard of it from the geographer Toscanelli, who was a great admirer of Brunelleschi and a friend of Columbus also. In building the dome, Brunelleschi encountered great difficulties, but he lived to be assured of his success, for at his death, in 1444, it lacked but little of completion, and all the parts essential to its perfection and durability were finished.
This is the largest dome in the world, for though the cross on the top of St. Peter’s is farther from the ground than that of Florence, the dome itself above the church is not as large as the dome of Sta. Maria del Fiore.
This work made Brunelleschi’s greatest fame, but he was the architect of many other fine churches and of secular buildings also; among the last the Pitti Palace, in which is the famous Pitti Gallery, is one of the most important. When you go to Florence you will see a statue of Filippo Brunelleschi, which is very interesting, on account of the way in which it is represented and the position in which it is placed. It is on one side of the Piazza of the cathedral; he is calmly sitting there with a plan of the church spread before him on his lap, while he lifts his head to look at the great dome as it stands out against the sky, the realization of all his thought and labor during so many years.
The church of St. Peter’s at Rome, which is the largest and most magnificent of all Christian temples, was begun about 1450, and was not brought into its present form until about 1661, or more than two centuries later (Fig. 103).
The history of its building is largely a story of contentions and troubles between popes, architects, and artists of different kinds. As it now stands it is as much the work of Michael Angelo as of any one man, but several other architects left their imprint upon it, both before and after140 his time; and all who aided in its construction were eminent men, in their way. Michael Angelo was in his seventy-second year when he took up the task of completing St. Peter’s. Bramante, Raphael, and Peruzzi had preceded him as architects of the church; Michael Angelo designed the dome, and when he was ninety it was nearly finished; the models for its completion which he made were not followed after his death; his plan would have made the church more harmonious with the dome, in size, than it now is. Money was sent in large sums, from all Europe, to carry on this work; the finest materials were used in building it, and the most gifted artists were employed in its decoration; it is now the vast home of multitudes of treasures. “I have hung the Pantheon in the air!” Michael Angelo is said to have exclaimed, while looking at the splendid dome of St. Peter’s; and no dome in the world has a more imposing effect, although its harmony with the rest of the building is injured by the change of the plan from that of a Greek cross which was made after his death.A
AThe interior diameter of the dome of St. Peter’s is one hundred and thirty-nine feet; that of St. Sophia, one hundred and fifteen feet, and that of Sta. Maria del Fiore, at Florence, one hundred and thirty-eight feet, six inches.
In spite of all this the critics of architecture are never weary of pointing out the defects of St. Peter’s; but to those who cannot apply to it the test of strictly scientific rules, its interior is sublime in its effect, and has few rivals—perhaps but one—in the world, and that is the great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, of which we spoke when writing of Egyptian architecture. But even here the difference is almost too great to admit of comparison; the spirit of the two is so unlike—St. Peter’s is complete and Karnak is a ruin—so, after all, it must be admitted that the interior of St. Peter’s is superior to all other edifices of which we know (Fig. 104).
141 From the time of the beginning of the Renaissance, about 1420, to about 1630, the architecture of Venice was going through a change, and finally reached such perfection that during the next half century the most magnificent style of architecture prevailed which has ever been known there. We mean to say that the whole effect was the grandest, for, while it is true that the edifices of that time are stately and striking in their appearance, it is equally true that their form and ornamentation are not as much in keeping with their use as they had been in older edifices.
142 Sansovino, who lived from 1479 to 1570, was an important architect and had great influence upon modern Venetian architecture. His masterpiece was the Library of St. Mark, of which the preceding cut gives one end (Fig. 105). It is a very beautiful structure, and is made more interesting from the fact that it stands directly opposite to the Doge’s Palace, and in the midst of all the interest which centres about the Piazza of St. Mark.
The Ducal Palace at Venice is called by John Ruskin, the great English critic, “the central edifice of the world.” It is divided into three stories, of which the uppermost occupies rather more than half the height of the building. The two lower stories are arcades of low, pointed arches, supported on pillars, the one beneath being bolder and heavier in character than the second. The capitals of the columns are greatly varied, no two in the upper arcade being exactly alike. Above the arches of the middle story was a row of open-work spaces, of the form called quatrefoil; while the third story is faced with alternating blocks of rose-colored and white marble, and is pierced with a few large pointed windows. The whole front, or façade, is crowned by an open parapet made up of blocks of stone carved into lily-like forms alternating with lance-shaped leaves. The whole effect is one of great richness and beauty, especially since time has mellowed its color, and softened without destroying the whiteness of its marbles (Fig. 106).
During the time of the Renaissance there were churches, palaces, museums, hospitals, and other large buildings erected in all the important cities of Italy. There are but few of these which have such special features as entitle them to be selected for description here. The reason for this has been given already—viz.: there was nothing new in them; they were all repetitions of what has been described in one form or another. Perhaps the next cut gives144 as good an example of secular architecture in this age as any that could be selected (Fig. 107).
Indeed, it is one of the most remarkable buildings of its class in any age. It was commenced by Francesco Sforza and his wife, Bianca, in 1456. They died long before its completion, and one part and another have been changed from time to time, but its great court, which was designed by Bramante, still remains, the finest thing of its kind in all Italy.
I shall now leave Italy with saying that the early days of the Renaissance were the best days of Italian Architecture, and, indeed, of Italian Art. The period made sacred by the genius and works of Michael Angelo, Bramante,145 Sangallo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael was a golden era, and still sheds its lustre over the land of their nativity. These artists followed the highest ideal of Art, and their errors were superior to the so-called successes of less gifted men.
The Italian Art of the fifteenth century was individual and grand; in the sixteenth century it became formal and elegant; in the seventeenth century it was bizarre, over-ornamented, and uncertain in its aim and execution; since then it has been comparatively unimportant, and its architecture scarcely merits censure, and certainly cannot be praised.
From the time of the fall of Granada, in 1492 to 1558, Spain was the leading nation of Europe. The whole country had been united under Ferdinand and Isabella, and their reign was a glorious period for their country. The importance of the nation was increased by the discovery of the New World, and so many great men were in her councils that her eminence was sure, and almost undisputed. Thus it followed that during the first half of the sixteenth century the Architecture of Spain gave expression to the spirit by which the nation was then animated.
This did not long continue, however, for the iron, practical rule of Philip II. crushed out enthusiasm and was fatal to artistic inspiration. This sovereign desired only to extend his kingdom; the priests, who acquired almost limitless power under his reign, aimed only to strengthen their authority, while the people were wildly pursuing riches in the New World which opened up to them a vast and attractive field. Thus no place or time was left to the cultivation of Art, and the only noteworthy period of Spanish Architecture since the beginning of the Renaissance was the sixty years which we have mentioned.
146 The Modern Architecture of Spain has been divided into three eras, each of which was distinguished by its own style. The first extends from the beginning of the Renaissance down to that of the abdication of the great Emperor Charles V. in 1555; the manner of this period is called Platerisco, or the silversmith’s style, on account of the vast amount of fine, filigree ornament which was used. The second period is from the above date to about 1650, and its art is called the Græco-Roman style because it is an attempt to revive the Classic Art of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The third period comes from 1650 to about a century later, and the Spaniards call its manner the Churrigueresque, which difficult name they take from that of Josef de Churriguera, the architect who invented this style. Since 1750 we may almost say that no such thing as Spanish Architecture has existed.
The cathedrals of Granada, Jaen, and Valladolid, and the churches of Malaga and Segovia, with many other ecclesiastical edifices, are among the chief monuments of Spanish Renaissance Architecture, but we shall pass on to a little later period and speak of but one great achievement, the famous Escurial, which is of much historic interest.
This combination of basilica, palace, monastery, and college was begun in 1563 by Philip II., in accordance with a vow which he made to St. Lawrence at the battle of St. Quentin. This battle was fought in 1557 under the walls of the French town of St. Quentin, by the French and the Spaniards, and the latter were completely victorious.
This cut gives an idea of how grand and impressive this collection of walls, towers, courts, and edifices must be, all crowned with the dome of the basilica. It is almost like a city by itself, and all who visit it agree that it is a gloomy and depressing place in spite of its grandeur (Fig. 108).
The front has three imposing entrances, with towers at the corner angles. Within the inclosure are a college,147 monastery, palace with state apartments, the church, numerous courts, gardens, and fountains. The front is injured by the great number of small windows, which divide it into such numberless sections as to become very tiresome to the eye, while they take away the noble elegance of larger spaces and the air of repose which such spaces give. The angle towers are not as rich in effect as they should be, and the side walls have been compared to those of a Manchester cotton-mill; thus the exterior, which is effective from its size and general air, has not the beauty of detail which satisfies a close observer.
148 The effect of the interior, as one goes in by the central entrance, is all that can be desired. The court leads directly to the square before the church; as one passes to it he has the college on one side, the monastery on the other, farther on the palace, with the whole culminating in the grand state apartments and the basilica. The various courts are striking in their arrangement, and the church with its dome and towers gives a supreme glory to the whole. Gardens, fountains, and many other fine objects add their effect to the richness and beauty of the whole; but all are insignificant beside the basilica, which merits a place in the foremost rank of the churches of the Renaissance. Indeed, the Escurial is a marvellous place, and is often called “the eighth wonder of the world.” The richest marbles, splendid pictures, and many magnificent objects help to make it one of the grandest works of modern architecture.
It is also true that it is one of the gloomiest places visited by travellers, and I shall quote a few lines from De Amicis to show the depressing effect which it has upon those who go there.
“The first feeling is that of sadness; the whole building is of dirt-colored stone, and striped with white between the stones; the roofs are covered with strips of lead. It looks like an edifice built of earth. The walls are very high and bare, and contain a great number of loopholes. One would call it a prison rather than a convent…. The locality, the forms, the colors, everything, in fact, seems to have been chosen by him who founded the edifice with the intention of offering to the eyes of men a sad and solemn spectacle. Before entering you have lost all your gayety; you no longer smile, but think. You stop at the doors of the Escurial with a sort of trepidation, as at the gates of a deserted city; it seems to you that, if the terrors of the Inquisition reigned in some corner of the world, they ought to reign among those walls. You would say that therein149 one might still see the last traces of it and hear its last echo…. The royal palace is superb, and it is better to see it before entering the convent and church, in order not to confuse the separate impressions produced by each. This palace occupies the northeast corner of the edifice. Several rooms are full of pictures, others are covered from floor to ceiling with tapestries, representing bull-fights, public balls, games, fêtes, and Spanish costumes, designed by Goya; others are regally furnished and adorned; the floor, the doors, and the windows are covered with marvellous inlaid work and stupendous gilding. But among all the rooms the most noteworthy is that of Philip II.; it is rather a cell than a room, is bare and squalid, with an alcove which answers to the royal oratory of the church, so that, from the bed, by keeping the doors open, one can see the priest who is saying mass. Philip II. slept in that cell, had his last illness there, and there he died. One still sees some chairs used by him, two little stools upon which he rested the leg tormented with gout, and a writing-desk. The walls are white, the ceiling flat and without any ornament, and the floor of brick…. In the court-yard of the kings you can form a first idea of the immense frame-work of the edifice. The court is inclosed by walls; on the side opposite the doors is the façade of the church. On a spacious flight of steps there are six enormous Doric columns, each of which upholds a large pedestal, and every pedestal a statue. There are six colossal statues, by Battiste Monegro, representing Jehoshaphat, Ezekiel, David, Solomon, Joshua, and Manasseh. The court-yard is paved, scattered with bunches of damp turf. The walls look like rocks cut in points; everything is rigid, massive, and heavy, and presents the fantastic appearance of a Titanic edifice, hewn out of solid stone, and ready to defy the shocks of earth and the lightnings of heaven. There one begins to understand what the Escurial really is.
150 “One ascends the steps and enters the church. The interior is sad and bare…. Beside the high altar, sculptured and gilded in the Spanish style, in the inter-columns of the two royal oratories, one sees two groups of bronze statues kneeling, with their hands clasped toward the altar. On the right Charles V. and the Empress Isabella, and several princesses; on the left, Philip II. with his wives…. In a corner, near a secret door, is the chair which Philip II. occupied. He received through that door letters and important messages, without being seen by the priests who were chanting in the choir. This church, which, in comparison with the entire building, seems very small, is nevertheless one of the largest in Spain, and although it appears so free from ornamentation, contains immense treasures of marble, gold, relics, and pictures, which the darkness in part conceals, and from which the sad appearance of the edifice distracts one’s attention…. But every feeling sinks into that of sadness. The color of the stone, the gloomy light, and the profound silence which surrounds you, recall your mind incessantly to the vastitude, unknown recesses, and solitude of the building, and leave no room for the pleasure of admiration. The aspect of the church awakens in you an inexplicable feeling of inquietude. You would divine, were you not otherwise aware of it, that those walls are surrounded, for a great distance, by nothing but granite, darkness, and silence; without seeing the enormous edifice, you feel it; you feel that you are in the midst of an uninhabited city; you would fain quicken your pace in order to see it rapidly, to free yourself from the weight of that mystery, and to seek, if they exist anywhere, bright light, noise, and life…. One goes to the convent, and here human imagination loses itself; … you pass through a long subterranean corridor, so narrow that you can touch the walls with your elbows, low enough almost to hit the ceiling with your head, and as damp as a submarine151 grotto; you reach the end, turn, and you are in another corridor. You go on, come to doors, look, and other corridors stretch away before you as far as the eye can reach. At the end of some you see a ray of light, at the end of others an open door, through which you catch a glimpse of a suite of rooms…. You look through a door and start back alarmed; at the end of that long corridor, into which you have glanced, you have seen a man as motionless as a spectre, who was looking at you. You proceed, and emerge on a narrow court, inclosed by high walls, which is gloomy, overgrown with weeds, and illumined by a faint light which seems to fall from an unknown sun, like the court of the witches described to us when we were children…. You pass through other corridors, staircases, suites of empty rooms, and narrow courts, and everywhere there is granite, a pale light, and the silence of a tomb. For a short time you think you would be able to retrace your steps; then your memory becomes confused, and you remember nothing more; you seem to have walked ten miles, to have been in that labyrinth for a month, and not to be able to get out of it. You come to a court and say, ‘I have seen it already!’ but you are mistaken; it is another…. You seem to be dreaming; catch glimpses of long frescoed walls ornamented with pictures, crucifixes, and inscriptions; you see and forget; and ask yourself, ‘Where am I?’… On you go from corridor to corridor, court to court; you look ahead with suspicion; almost expect to see suddenly, at the turning of a corner, a row of skeleton monks, with their hoods drawn over their eyes and their arms folded; you think of Philip II., and seem to hear his retreating step through dark hallways; you remember all that you have read of him, of his treasures, the Inquisition, and all becomes clear to your mind’s eye; you understand everything for the first time; the Escurial is Philip II., he is still there, alive and frightful, and with152 him the image of his terrible God…. The Escurial surrounds, holds, and overwhelms you; the cold of its stones penetrates to your marrow; the sadness of its sepulchral labyrinths invades your soul; if you are with a friend you say, ‘Let us leave;’ if you were alone you would take to flight. At last you mount a staircase, enter a room, go to the window, and salute with a burst of gratitude the mountains, sun, freedom, and the great and beneficent God who loves and pardons. What a long breath one draws at that window!
“An illustrious traveller said that after having passed a day in the convent of the Escurial, one ought to feel happy throughout one’s life, in simply thinking that one might still be among those walls, but is no longer there. This is almost true. Even at the present day, after so great a lapse of time, on rainy days, when I am sad, I think of the Escurial, then look at the walls of my room, and rejoice!”
During the sixteenth century there were many palaces erected in Spain, but nothing can be added to the impressions you will get from the descriptions we have quoted of the cheerful, gay Alhambra, and the gloomy, sad Escurial.
The domestic architecture of Spain is unattractive. There are no fine châteaux, as in France, or elegant parks, as in England. Ford compares the front of the residence of the Duke of Medina to “ten Baker-street houses put together,” and this is true of many so-called palaces. This state of modern Spanish architecture is fully accounted for by the following quotation from Fergusson, the learned writer on architecture:
“On the whole, perhaps, we should not be far wrong in assuming that the Spaniards are among the least artistic people in Europe. Great things have been done in their country by foreigners, and they themselves have done creditable things in periods of great excitement, and under the pressure of foreign example; but in themselves they153 seem to have no innate love of Art, no real appreciation for its beauties, and, when left to themselves, they care little for the expression of beauty in any of the forms in which Art has learned to embody itself. In Painting they have done some things that are worthy of praise; in Sculpture they have done very little; and in Architectural Art they certainly have not achieved success. Notwithstanding that they have a climate inviting to architectural display in every form; though they have the best of materials in infinite abundance; though they had wealth and learning, and were stimulated by the example of what had been done in their own country, and was doing by other nations—in spite of all this, they have fallen far short of what was effected either in Italy or France, and now seem to be utterly incapable of appreciating the excellencies of Architectural Art, or of caring to enjoy them.”
After the reigns of Charles VIII. and Louis XII. the French people became somewhat familiar with Italian Art, and at length, during the reign of Francis I., from 1515 to 1546, everything Italian was the fashion in France. Francis invited such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Benvenuto Cellini, Primaticcio, and Andrea del Sarto to come to France and aid him in his works at Fontainebleau and elsewhere.
It was not long before the Gothic architecture which had been so much used and improved in France was thought to be inferior in beauty to the Italian architecture as it existed in the sixteenth century, and very soon the latter style was adopted and considered as the only one worthy of admiration. But the French architects had been so trained to the Gothic order that it was not easy for them to change their habits of design, and the result was that154 new edifices were largely of the Gothic form, but were finished and ornamented like the Italian buildings; by this means the effect of the whole, when completed, was such as is seen in this picture of the church of St. Michael at Dijon (Fig. 109). In these days no one approves of this union of Gothic design and Italian decoration, but when it was the fashion it was thought to be very beautiful by French architects.
Francis I., who was so anxious to introduce Italian art into France, erected edifices of a very different sort from those which he attempted to imitate. In Italy, the principal buildings of the Renaissance were churches or convents, or such as were in some way for religious uses. Francis I. built palaces like that of Fontainebleau, and splendid châteaux like those of Chambord, or Chenonceaux, and the Italian style of architecture could not be readily adapted to the lighter uses of the French kings. The splendid massive Pitti Palace, built after the design of the great Brunelleschi, would scarcely have harmonized with the river banks and the lovely undulating meadows around a country villa or château. So it gradually happened that French Architecture was more graceful, light, and elegant than the architecture of the churches, monasteries, and other religious edifices of Italy, and at the same time the Italian feeling and influence can easily be traced in the French buildings of the time of which we speak.
In Italy the Pope and the Church governed in Art, and considered it only as a religious means of glorifying the Church and impressing its doctrines upon the whole people. In France the sovereigns held the leading place, and in the midst of their ambitions and their gayeties they found little time to consider the matter of church architecture. Though the church of St. Eustache was erected at Paris, and other churches were restored, it was not until 1629, when Cardinal Richelieu ordered the building of the church156 of the Sarbonne, that an example was given of the full effects upon French church architecture of the change from the Gothic, or Mediæval style, to that of the Renaissance, or the Classic style.
Perhaps the church of the Invalides is the most remarkable building of the seventeenth century in France. It was designed and superintended by Jules Hardouin Mansard, a skilful architect, who was born in 1647, and died in 1708.157 The erection of the dome of the Invalides occupied him from 1680 to 1706. It is a fashion to criticise this as well as all famous buildings, but if it is remembered that the dome was intended to be the feature of the edifice, and that it was therefore necessary to sacrifice something to it, in the construction of the whole, we must admit that what its admirers claim for it is true—namely, that it is one of the158 finest domical edifices in Europe, and a most satisfactory example of the architecture of its class (Fig. 110).
Directly underneath this dome is the crypt in which is the sarcophagus which contains the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte. On the door which leads to the crypt are inscribed the following words, taken from the will of the exile at St. Helena: “I desire that my ashes may rest on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of the French people whom I have loved so well.”
This tomb is said to have cost nearly two millions of dollars, and though it is beautiful, and in good taste in its details, yet one can but regret that all this expense should not have erected a splendid mausoleum, such as would have dignified the monumental art of France.
The church of St. Genevieve, or the Pantheon, as it is usually called, is a very important architectural work. It was twenty-six years in building, and was not completed until after the death of its architect, Soufflot, which occurred in 1781 (Fig. 111).
It is said that this church was begun as the fulfilment of a vow made by King Louis XV. when he was ill, but as the French Revolution was in progress when it was completed, it was dedicated to the “Grands Hommes,” or the great men of France, and not to God or the sweet St. Genevieve, who was one of the patron saints of Paris.
The dome of the Pantheon is elegant and chaste, but not great in design or effect, and the whole appearance of the church is weakened by the extreme width of the spaces between the front columns; this makes the entablature appear weak, and is altogether a serious defect. Another striking fault is the way in which a second column is placed outside at each end of the portico; one cannot imagine a reason for this, and it is confusing and unmeaning in the extreme. The interior of the Pantheon is superior to the exterior, and many authorities name it as the most satisfactory160 of all modern, classical church interiors; when it was built it was believed to be as perfect an imitation of antique classical architecture as could be made, and all the world may be grateful that it escaped the fate prepared for it by the Communists. This was averted by the discovery and cutting of the fuse which they had prepared for its destruction on May 24th, 1871; the fuse led to the crypts beneath the church, where these reckless men had placed large quantities of powder.
In the beginning of the present century French architects believed it best to reproduce exactly ancient temples which had been destroyed. According to this view the church of the Madeleine was begun in 1804, after the designs of Vignon. Outwardly it is a temple of the Corinthian order, and is very beautiful, though its position greatly lessens its effect. If it were on a height, or standing in a large square by itself, it would be far more imposing (Fig. 112).
The church of the Trinity and that of the Augustines, at Paris, are important church edifices of the present day, but though much thought and time have been lavished on them, they are not as attractive as we could wish the works of our own time to be; and they seem almost unworthy of attention when we remember that in the same city there are so many examples of architecture that have far more artistic beauty, as well as the additional charms of age and the interest of historical associations.
We have already spoken of the sort of building in which Francis I. delighted. Of all his undertakings the rebuilding of the Louvre was the most successful. Its whole design was fine and the ornaments beautiful; many of these decorations were made after the drawings of Jean Goujon, who was an eminent master in such sculptures. The court of the Louvre has never been excelled in any country of Europe; it is a wonderful work for the time in which it161 was built, and satisfies the taste of the most critical observers (Fig. 113).
We cannot give space to descriptions of the châteaux built by Francis I., but this picture of that of Chambord affords a good example of what these buildings were (Fig. 114).
From the time of the reign of Charles IX. (1560) to the close of the reign of Louis XIII., the style of architecture which was used in France was called the “style of Henry IV.;” this last-named king ruled before Louis XIII., and during his time architecture sank to a very low plane—there was nothing in it to admire or imitate. Under Louis XIII.162 it began to improve, and in the days of Louis XIV., who is called the “Grand Monarque,” all the arts made great progress and received much patronage from the king, and all the people of the court, for whom the king was a model. Louis XIV. began a revival of Roman classical architecture, and there is no doubt that he believed that he equalled, or perhaps excelled, Julius Cæsar and all other Roman emperors as a patron of the Fine Arts.
But we know that this great monarch was deceived by his self-love and by the flatteries of those who surrounded him and wished to obtain favors from him. His architectural works had so many faults that it is very tiresome to read what is written about them, and in any case it is pleasanter to speak of virtues than of faults. The works of Louis XIV. were certainly herculean, and when we think of the building of the palace of Versailles, the completion of the Louvre, and the numberless hôtels, châteaux, and palaces which belong to his reign, we feel sure that if only the vastness of the architectural works of his time is considered, he well merits the title of the Great Monarch. But these important edifices require more time and space if spoken of in detail than we can give, and I pass to some consideration of the works of our own time.
The architecture of the reign of Napoleon III. requires the space of a volume, at least, were it to be clearly described, for during that reign there was scarcely a city of France that did not add some important building to its public edifices. First, the city of Paris was remodelled and rebuilt to a marvellous extent, and as in other matters Paris is the leader, so its example was followed in architecture. The new Bourse in Lyons, the Custom House at Rouen, and the Exchange at Marseilles are good specimens of what was done in this way outside the great metropolis.
During the reign of Louis Philippe, and a little later, French domestic architecture was vastly improved, and164 since then much more attention has been given by Frenchmen to the houses in which they live. The appearance of the new Boulevards and streets of Paris is picturesque, while the houses are rich and elegant. Many portions of this city are more beautiful than any other city of Europe; and yet it is true that the architecture of forty years or so ago was more satisfactory than that of the present time.
The French are an enthusiastic people, and have been very fond of erecting monuments in public places which would remind them continually of the glories of their nation, the conquests of their armies, and the achievements of their great men. Triumphal Arches and Columns of Victory are almost numberless in France; many of them are impressive, and some are really very fine in their architecture. Since the Porte St. Denis was (Fig. 115) erected, in165 1672, almost every possible design has been used for these monuments, in one portion of France or another, until, finally, the Arc de l’Étoile (Fig. 116) was built at the upper end of the Champs Elysées, at Paris. This is the noblest of all modern triumphal arches, as well as one of the most splendid ornaments in a city which is richly decorated with architectural works of various styles and periods—from that of the fine Renaissance example seen in the west front of the Louvre, built in 1541, down to the Arc de l’Étoile, the Fontaine St. Michel, and the Palais du Trocadéro of our own time.
The French architecture of the present century is in truth a classic revival; its style has been called the néo-Grec,166 or revived Greek, and the principal buildings of the reign of Napoleon III. all show that a study of Greek art had influenced those who designed these edifices.
We may say that England has never had an architecture of its own, since it has always imitated and reproduced the orders which have originated in other countries. The Gothic order is more than any other the order of England, and, in truth, of Great Britain. All English cathedrals, save one, and a very large proportion of the churches, in city and country, are built in this style of architecture.
It is also true that during the Middle Ages, when the Roman Catholics were in power in England and made use of Gothic architecture, they built so many churches, that, during several later centuries, it might be truly said that England had no church architecture, because so few new churches were required or built.
It is so difficult to trace the origin and progress of the Classical or Renaissance feeling in English architecture that I shall leave it altogether, and passing the transition style and period, speak directly of the first great architect of the Renaissance in England, Inigo Jones, who was born in 1572 and died in 1653. He studied in Italy and brought back to his native country a fondness for the Italian architecture of that day. He became the favorite court architect, and there are many important edifices in England which were built from his designs. His most notable work was the palace of Whitehall, though his design was never fully carried out in it; had it been, this palace would have excelled all others in Europe, either of earlier or later date. Among the churches designed by Inigo Jones that of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, is interesting because it is probably the first important Protestant church erected in England which still167 exists. It is small and simple, being almost an exact reproduction of the early Greek temples called distyle in antis, such as I described when speaking of Greek architecture (Fig. 117).
Inigo Jones made many designs for villas and private residences, and perhaps he is more famous for these works than for any others. Among them are Chiswick and Wilton House, and many others of less importance.
After Jones came Sir Christopher Wren, who was the architect of some of the finest buildings in London. He was born in 1632 and died in 1723. The great fire, in 1666, when he was thirty-four years old, gave him a splendid opportunity to show his talents. Only three days after this fire he presented to the king a plan for rebuilding the city, which would have made it one of the most convenient as well as one of the most beautiful cities of the world.
Sir Christopher Wren is most frequently mentioned as the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral. This was commenced nine years after the great fire, and was thirty-five years in building. St. Paul’s is the largest and finest Protestant cathedral in the world, and among all the churches of Europe that have been erected since the revival of Classical architecture, St. Peter’s, at Rome, alone excels it (Fig. 118).
Although so many years were consumed in the building of St. Paul’s, Sir Christopher Wren lived to superintend it168 all, and had the gratification of placing the topmost stone in the lantern of this splendid monument to his genius.
The western towers of Westminster Abbey are said to have been built after a design by Wren, but of this there is a doubt. Among his other works in church architecture are the steeple of Bow Church, London; the church of St. Stephen’s, Walbrook; St. Bride’s, Fleet Street, and St. James’s, Piccadilly.
169 The royal palaces of Winchester and Hampton were designed by Wren, and many other well-known edifices, among which is Greenwich Hospital. He made some signal failures, but it is great praise to say, what is undoubtedly true, that, though he was a pioneer in the Renaissance architecture of England, and died a century and a half ago, no one of his countrymen has surpassed him, and we may well question whether any other English architect has equalled him.
Churches, palaces, university buildings, and fine examples of municipal and domestic architecture are so numerous in England and other portions of Great Britain that we cannot speak of them in detail. The culmination of the taste for the imitation of Classical architecture was reached about the beginning of the present century, and among the most notable edifices in that manner are the British Museum, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and St. George’s Hall, Liverpool (Fig. 119).
170 A revival of Gothic Architecture has taken place in England in our own time. The three most prominent secular buildings in this style are Windsor Castle, the Houses of Parliament, and the New Museum, at Oxford. Of course, in the case of Windsor Castle, the work was a remodelling, but the reparations were so extensive as to almost equal a rebuilding. Sir Jeffry Wyatville had the superintendence of it, and succeeded in making it appear like an ancient building refitted in the nineteenth century—that is to say, it combines modern luxury and convenience in its interior with the exterior appearance of the castellated fortresses of a more barbarous age (Fig. 120).
In the Houses of Parliament there was an attempt to carry out, even to the minutest detail, the Gothic style as it existed in the Tudor age, when there was an excess of ornament, most elaborate doorways, and the fan-tracery vaultings were decorated with pendent ornaments which171 look like clusters of stalactites. Sir Charles Barry was its architect. The present school of artists in England are never weary of abusing it; they call it a horror and declare its style to be obsolete. In fact, it is not the success at which Barry aimed; but it excels the other efforts to revive the Gothic in this day, not only in England, but in all Europe, and has many points to be admired in its plan and its detail, while the beauty of its sky-line must be admitted by all (Fig. 121).
In the New Museum of Oxford, the Gothic is that of Lombardy, rather than the Early English. It is an example of the result of the teaching of Mr. Ruskin. It does not realize the expectations of those who advocated this manner of building, and has proved a great disappointment to the advanced theorists of a quarter of a century ago.
172 English architecture of the present day may be concisely described by saying that it is Gothic for churches, parsonage-houses, school-houses, and all edifices in which the clergy are interested or of which they have the oversight. On the other hand, palaces, town-halls, municipal buildings, club-houses, and such structures as come within the care of the laity, are almost without exception in the Classic style.
Neither of these orders seems to be exactly suited to the climate of England or to the wants of its people; therefore, neither would satisfy the demands of the ancients, who taught that the architecture of a nation should be precisely adapted to its climate and to the purposes for which the edifices are intended. In fact, the ancients carried their ideas of fitness so far that one could tell at a glance the object for which a structure had been designed; we know that it is not possible to comply with this law in this day, although it is doubtless in accord with the true ideal of what perfect architecture should be. At the present day there is little doubt that the edifices of the Church and clergy are far more praiseworthy and true architecturally than are those for secular and domestic uses.
I shall not speak of the period of the Renaissance in Germany, but shall go forward to the time of the Revival of Classic Architecture, which dated about 1825. During the eighteenth century the discoveries which were made in Greece were of great interest to all the world, and the drawings which were made of the temples and monuments, as well as of the lesser objects of art which existed there, were sent all over Europe, and had such an effect upon the different nations, that with one accord they began to adopt the Greek style of architecture, whenever any important173 work was to be done. This effect was very marked in Germany, and the German architects tried to copy every detail of Greek architecture with great exactness.
When we begin to speak of modern German architecture at this point, we do not omit anything important, for the struggles of the Reformation, and the results of the Thirty Years’ War were such, that no great architectural advances were attempted for a long time. Again, the division of Germany into many small principalities, and the establishment of many little courts so divided the wealth of the German people into small portions, that no one was rich enough to undertake large buildings. There was no one great central city as in France and England, and no one sovereign was rich enough to adorn his capital with splendid edifices or to be a magnificent patron of art and artists after the fashion of the “Grand Monarque” in France.
Before taking up the Revival, however, I wish, for two reasons, to give a picture of the Brandenburg Gate, at Berlin. This gate was erected between 1784 and 1792. It is important because such monuments are more rare in Germany than in other European countries, especially of the time in which this was built, and because it is one of the best imitations of Greek art that exists in any nation (Fig. 122).
It is interesting to remember that when Napoleon entered Berlin as a conqueror, after the Battle of Jena, he sent the Car of Victory, which surmounts this gate, to Paris, as a trophy of his prowess. After his abdication it was returned to its original position.
The effect of the German revival of Greek art is more plainly seen in Munich than in any other city. It is the capital of Bavaria, and one of its kings, Louis I., while he was young and had not yet become king, resided at Rome; he was a passionate lover of art, and he resolved that when he came to the throne he would make his capital famous for beautiful things. Above all, he desired to imitate174 all that he had most admired in the countries he had visited, and also the art of the ancients as he knew it from models and pictures. For this reason it happens that Munich is a collection of copies of buildings which have existed in other countries and in past ages, and as these buildings, which were first made in marble and stone, are mostly copied in plaster in Munich, much of their beauty is lost; and since these copied buildings are not used for the same purposes for which the ancient ones were intended, the whole effect of them is very far from pleasing or satisfactory. In fact, the result is just such as must always follow the imitation of a beautiful object, when no proper regard is paid to the use to be made of it. If, for example, a fine copy of a light and airy Swiss châlet should be made175 in the United States of America, and placed on some business street in one of our cities, and used for a bank building, we could not deny that it was an exact copy of a building which is good in its way; but it would be so unsuited to its position and its uses, that the man who built it there would be counted as insane or foolish. And this is the effect of the modern architecture of Munich; it seems as if King Louis must have been a madman to expend so much time and money in this absurd kind of imitative architecture, and yet it is very interesting to visit this city and see these edifices.
Of the Munich churches erected under Louis I. that of St. Ludwig is in the Byzantine order; the Aue-Kirche is in the pointed German Gothic, and the Basilica is like a Roman basilica of the fifth century. It resembles that of176 St. Paul’s-without-the-Walls; it was begun in 1835 and completed in 1850. In a vault beneath this basilica Louis and his Queen, Theresa, are buried. The picture given here shows its extreme simplicity; its whole effect is solemn and satisfactory; still one must regret that since it is so fine up to a certain point, it should not have been made still finer (Fig. 123).
The Ruhmeshalle, or Hall of Fame, at Munich, is an interesting and somewhat unique edifice. It is a portico of marble with forty-eight Doric columns, each twenty-six feet high. Against the walls are brackets holding busts of celebrated Germans who have lived since 1400. In front of the portico stands the colossal bronze statue of Bavaria. She is represented as a protectress with a lion by her side; in the right hand she holds a sword, and a chaplet in the left; it is sixty-one and a half feet high, and the pedestal raises it twenty-eight and a half feet more; inside, a staircase leads up into the head, where there are seats for eight persons. The view from the top of this statue is fine, and177 so extensive that in a favorable atmosphere the heights of the Alps can be discerned. The hill upon which the Ruhmeshalle is built is to the south of Munich, and is called the Theresienhöhe. The grand statue is intended to be the principal object of interest here, and the portico is made so low as to throw the figure out and show it off to advantage; altogether it is one of the most successful architectural works in Munich (Fig. 124).
The Glyptothek, or Sculpture Gallery, the Pinakothek, or Picture Gallery, the Royal Palace, the Public Library, the War Office, the University, Blind School, other palaces and secular buildings, all belong to the time of the Revival in Germany. The Ludwig Strasse, which King Louis fondly hoped to make one of the most beautiful avenues in the world, is—with its Roman arch at one end, and a weak copy of the Loggia dei Lanzi at the other—a tiresome, meaningless, architectural failure.
The Museum of Berlin is a striking result of the same Revival of Classic architecture, and is far more splendid than anything in Munich (Fig. 125).
In Dresden the most important works in this style are the New Theatre and Picture Gallery. The last is almost178 an exact reproduction of the Pinakothek of Munich. All over Germany the effects of this Revival are more or less prominent, but I shall speak of but one other edifice, the Walhalla (Fig. 126).
This is also a Temple of Fame, and is situated about six miles from Ratisbon. It overlooks the River Danube from a height of more than three hundred feet. It was begun in 1830, and was twelve years in building, costing eight millions of florins. It is of white marble, and on the exterior is an exact reproduction of the Parthenon at Athens. The interior is divided into two parts by an entablature, which supports fourteen caryatides, made from colored marbles. These figures in turn support a second entablature, on which is a frieze in eight compartments, on which is sculptured scenes representing the history of Germany from its early days to the time of the introduction of Christianity. Along the lower wall there are one hundred busts of illustrious Germans who had lived from the earliest days of Germany down to those of the poet Goethe.
179 The grounds about the Walhalla are laid out in walks, and from them there are fine, extensive views. Taken by itself there is much to admire in the Walhalla. The sculptures arouse an enthusiasm about Germany, her history, and the men who have helped to make it, in spite of the strange unfitness with which the artists have mingled Grecian myths and German sagas. But aside from this sort of interest the whole thing seems incongruous and strangely unsuited to its position; one writer goes so far as to say of it that “Minerva, descending in Cheapside to separate two quarrelling cabmen, could hardly be more out of place.” And yet it is true that the Walhalla is the only worthy rival to St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, as an example of the possible adaptability of Greek or Roman Architecture to the needs and uses of our own days.
THEATRES AND MUSIC HALLS.
In speaking of theatres I will first give a list of the most important ones in Europe, as they are given by Fergusson in his “History of Modern Architecture.”
|Depth from Curtain
to back of Boxes.
|Depth of Stage.|
|La Scala, Milan||105||77|
|San Carlo, Naples||100||74|
|Carlo Felice, Genoa||95||80|
|New Opera House, Paris||95||98|
|Opera House, London (old)||95||45|
|Turin Opera House||90||110|
|Covent Garden, London||89||89|
|St. Petersburg, Opera||87||100|
|Académie de Musique, Paris||85||82|
The Opera House of La Scala, at Milan, is generally said to be the finest of all for seeing and hearing what goes on upon the stage: it was begun in 1776 and finished two years later. San Carlo, Naples, holds the second place, and was first erected in 1737, but was almost destroyed by fire in 1816, and was afterward thoroughly rebuilt.
The new Opera House of Paris is interesting to us because it has been built so recently and so much written and said of it that we are familiar with it. Any description that would do it justice would occupy more space than we can afford for it, but this cut (Fig. 127) gives an excellent idea of its size and exterior appearance. It is distinguished by great richness of material and profusion of ornament, its interior decorations being especially splendid. It has been criticised as lacking repose and dignity, but its elegance and magnificence compel admiration.
Music halls are only another sort of theatre, and have come into great favor in recent days, especially in England.181 The Albert Hall, South Kensington, is the finest music hall that has been erected. It seats eight thousand people, besides accommodating an orchestra of two hundred and a chorus of one thousand singers; it is one hundred and thirty-six feet from the floor to the highest part of the ceiling. This hall has some defects, but is so far successful as to prove that a theatre or music hall could be so constructed as to seat ten thousand persons and permit them to hear the music as distinctly as it is heard in many halls where only two or three thousand can be comfortable.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
When we remember that we have been able to give some account of architecture as it existed thousands of years before Christ, and to speak of the temples and tombs of the grand old nations who laid the foundation of the arts and civilization of the world—and then, when we remember the little time that has passed since the first roof was raised in our own land, we may well be proud of our country as it is—and at the same time we know that its architecture may in truth be said to be a thing of the future.
It is but a few years, not more than seventy, since any building existed here that could be termed architectural in any degree. To be sure, there were many comfortable, generous-sized homes scattered up and down the land, but they made no claim to architectural design, and were not such edifices as one considers when speaking or writing of architecture.
The first buildings to which much attention was given in the United States were the Capitols, both State and National, and until recently they were in what may be called a Classic style, because they had porticoes with columns and certain other features of ancient orders; but when182 the cella, as is the case in America, is divided into two or more stories, with rows of prosaic windows all around, and chimneys, and perhaps attics also added, the term Classic Architecture immediately becomes questionable, and it is difficult to find a name exactly suited to the needs of the case; for it is still true that from a distance, and in answer to a general glance, they are nearer to the Classic orders than to anything else.
The National Capitol at Washington, which is the principal edifice in the United States, was begun in 1793, when General Washington laid the foundation-stone; the main portion was completed in 1830; two wings and the dome have since been added, and its present183 size is greater than that of any other legislative building in the world, except the British Houses of Parliament (Fig. 128).
The dome, and the splendid porticoes, with the magnificent flights of steps leading up to them, are the fine features of the Capitol. The dome compares well with those that are famous in the world, and taken all in all the Washington Capitol is more stately than the Houses of Parliament, and is open to as little criticism as buildings of its class in other lands.
Several of the State Capitols illustrate the manner of building which I described above. This cut of the Capitol of Ohio is an excellent example of it (Fig. 129).
In domestic architecture, while there has been no style so original and absolutely defined as to be definitely called184 American, we may roughly classify three periods—the Colonial, the Middle, and the Modern. These terms have no close application, and you must understand that I use them rather for convenience than because they accurately, or even approximately, indicate particular styles. The mansions of the Colonial period are, perhaps, most easily recognized, and in some respects were the frankest and most independent class of houses ever built in this country. The early settlers took whatever suited them from all styles, and instead of imitating the English, the Dutch, or the French manner of building, mingled parts of all, with especial reference to the needs of their climate and surroundings.
This fine old house (Fig. 130) shows the plain, homely, yet quaint style of many of the mansions of the Colonial period. It was built near the beginning of the last century, and occupied by Sir William Pepperell until his death. Its interior, with heavy wainscoting of solid mahogany, was more imposing by far than the exterior. The Van Rensselaer homestead at Albany is an excellent example of a more stately house, possessing much dignity and impressiveness.
The Middle period was a time when domestic architecture, still without any originality and losing much of the independence of the Colonial, copied more closely from foreign models. Some fine old mansions belong to this period, which covered the last years of the last century and the first half of this. The celebrated Cragie House at Cambridge, occupied by the poet Longfellow; “Elmwood,” the home of James Russell Lowell; “Bedford House,” in Westchester County, New York, the home of the Hon. John Jay, are to be referred to this period; and so is the imposing “Old Morrisania,” at Morrisania, New York, the old Morris mansion (Fig. 131).
It is modelled after a French château, and was erected by General Morris after his return from France in 1800. It186 is one of the most striking among the mansions of its time, and both its interior and exterior are highly interesting.
These views serve to illustrate the want of anything like a regular style, of which I spoke above; but they show how many different forces were at work to influence building in the Modern period. This division is meant to extend to and include the present time, and so great is the diversity of styles now employed that in a work like this it would be idle to attempt anything like an enumeration of them, and still less to try and determine their origin and importance. I can only give you one example of the handsome and costly homes which are being built to-day, and leave you to observe others as you now see them everywhere about the country (Fig. 132). A modern writer on American architecture claims that in private dwellings an American order is gradually being developed by the changes made to adapt foreign forms to our climate, and especially to the brilliancy of the sunlight here. All this is so difficult to define, however, that it would be impossible to show it clearly in the limits of a book like this, even if it exists.
What is called the “Queen Anne” style, modelled upon the English fashion of the time of that monarch, is very widely used in country houses at the present time, sometimes in conjunction with the Colonial, which also exists as an independent style. The tendency of domestic architecture is to make everything quaint and picturesque, though this is not so far carried to extremes as was the case a few years since.
In public buildings many splendid edifices have been erected of late years. The imitation of classic forms which was formerly the fashion, and which is so strikingly exhibited by Girard College, Philadelphia, is now almost entirely laid aside. A lighter, less constrained style, which may be called eclectic—which means selecting—because it takes freely from any and all styles whatever suits its purpose,188 is arising; and as this selecting is being every year more and more intelligently done, and as original ideas are constantly being incorporated with those chosen, the prospects for architecture are more promising than ever before in this country. The Casino, at Newport, is a fine example of a modern building; and the still more recent Casino in New York shows a fine example of the adapting of ideas from Saracenic architecture to American uses. The Capitol at Albany has many fine features, but it is the work of several designers who did not harmonize. Memorial Hall, at Cambridge, is one of the more striking of modern American buildings, but its sky-line—that is, its outline as seen against the sky—lacks simplicity and repose.
The churches in this country exhibit the widest variety of style. Trinity Church in New York was the first Gothic church erected in America, and Trinity Church in Boston, one of the latest churches of importance, is also Gothic, though of the variety called Norman Gothic, and considerably varied. The Roman Catholic Cathedral of New York, and many others of less magnitude, might be cited as a proof that American architecture is advancing, and that we may speak hopefully of its future.
Railroad depots and school-houses of certain types are among the most distinctive and characteristic American edifices. The first, especially, are being constructed more nearly in accordance with the ancient principle of suiting the structure to its uses than are any other buildings that are worthy to be considered architecturally. Art museums and public libraries, too, now form an important feature in both town and country, and, in short, the beginning of American architecture, for that is all that can be claimed for what as yet exists, is such as would be the natural outcome of a nation such as ours—varied, restless, bold, ugly, original, and progressive. All these terms can be applied to American art, but in and through it all there is a promise190 of something more. As greater age will bring repose and dignity of bearing to our people, so our Fine Arts will take on the best of our characteristics; as we outgrow our national crudities the change will be shown in our architecture, and we may well anticipate that in the future we shall command the consideration and assume the same importance in these regards that our excellence in the Useful Arts has already won for us in all the world.