An Architectural Movement Which Began in England in the 1740s
The influence of English romanticism and the mass production of elaborate wooden millwork after the Industrial Revolution fueled the construction of Gothic Revival homes in the
mid-1800s. These picturesque structures are marked by "Gothic" windows with distinctive pointed arches; exposed framing timbers; and steep,
vaulted roofs with cross-gables. Extravagant features may include towers and verandas. Ornate wooden detailing is generously applied as gable, window, and door trim.
American architects Alexander Jackson Davis and Andrew Jackson Downing championed Gothic in domestic buildings in the 1830s. Most Gothic Revival homes were constructed between 1840 and 1870 in the Northeast.
The Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic or Neo-Gothic) is an architectural movement which began in the 1740s in England. Its popularity grew rapidly in the early nineteenth century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval forms in contrast to the classical styles prevalent at the time. In England, the centre of this revival, it was intertwined with deeply philosophical movements associated with a re-awakening of "High Church" or Anglo-Catholic self-belief (and by the Catholic convert Augustus Welby Pugin) concerned by the growth of religious non-conformism. Ultimately, the style became widespread for its intrinsic appeal in the third quarter of the nineteenth century. In parallel to the ascendancy of neo-Gothic styles in nineteenth-century England, interest spread rapidly to the continent of Europe, in Australia and to the Americas; indeed perhaps the number of Gothic Revival and Carpenter Gothic structures built in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries exceeds the number of authentic Gothic structures that had been built previously.
An imaginative book, 'Storybook Cottages, America's Carpenter Gothic Style'
- Eminently photogenic, imaginative, and and romantic, Carpenter Gothic homes have the right out of a fairy-tale exteriors with steep gables; pointed doors,
windows and arches, elaborate gingerbread trim. The initial Victorian romantic architectural resurgences to sweep across the nation in the nineteenth century. Inspiration for the Carpenter Gothic architecture came from Andrew Jackson Downing's pattern books and made possible with the development of the steam-power scroll saw. Stunning professional photographs are presented along with illustrations from the pattern books by Downing The text provides illustrations of the the style's roots, beginning in Medieval Europe along with Gothic cathedrals
The Gothic Revival was paralleled and supported by medievalism, which had its roots in antiquarian concerns with survivals and curiosities. It also took on political connotations, as well; with the "rational" and "radical" Neoclassical style being seen as associated with republicanism and liberalism (as evidenced by its use in the United States and to a lesser extent in Republican France), the more "spiritual" and "traditional" Gothic Revival became associated with monarchism and conservatism, and this was reflected by the choice of styles for the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in London and Parliament Hill in Ottawa. In English literature, the architectural Gothic Revival and classical Romanticism gave rise to the Gothic novel genre, beginning with Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, and inspired a 19th century genre of medieval poetry which stems from the pseudo-bardic poetry of "Ossian". Poems like "Idylls of the King" by Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson recast specifically modern themes in medieval settings of Arthurian romance. In German literature, the Gothic Revival also had a grounding in literary fashions.
Survival and Revival
Gothic architecture is generally considered to have begun at the Abbey of Saint-Denis, Paris, in 1140 and ended with a last great flourish at Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster in the early 16th century. However, Gothic architecture did not die out completely in 1520 but instead lingered in on-going cathedral-building projects and the construction of churches in increasingly isolated rural districts of England, France, Spain, Germany and the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. In Bologna, in 1646, the Baroque architect Carlo Rainaldi constructed Gothic vaults (completed 1658) for the Basilica of San Petronio in Bologna, which had been under construction since 1390; there, the Gothic context of the structure overrode considerations of the current architectural mode. Guarino Guarini, a 17th-century Theatine monk active primarily in Turin, recognized the "Gothic order" as one of the primary systems of architecture and made use of it in his practice. Similarly, Gothic architecture survived in an urban setting during the later 17th century, as shown in Oxford and Cambridge, where some additions and repairs to Gothic buildings were apparently considered to be more in keeping with the style of the original structures than contemporary Baroque. Sir Christopher Wren's Tom Tower for Christ Church, Oxford University, and, later, Nicholas Hawksmoor's west towers of Westminster Abbey, blur the boundaries between what is called "Gothic survival" and the Gothic revival.
In the mid 18th century, with the rise of Romanticism, an increased interest and awareness of the Middle Ages among some influential connoisseurs created a more appreciative approach to selected medieval arts, beginning with church architecture, the tomb monuments of royal and noble personages, stained glass, and late Gothic illuminated manuscripts. Other Gothic arts continued to be disregarded as barbaric and crude, however: tapestries and metalwork, as examples. Sentimental and nationalist associations with historical figures were as strong in this early revival, as purely aesthetic concerns. A few Britons, and soon some Germans, began to appreciate the picturesque character of ruins—"picturesque" becoming a new aesthetic quality—and those mellowing effects of time that the Japanese call wabi-sabi and which Horace Walpole independently admired, mildly tongue-in-cheek, as "the true rust of the Barons' wars." The "Gothick" details of Walpole's Twickenham villa, "Strawberry Hill", (illustrated, right) appealed to the rococo tastes of the time, and by the 1770s, thoroughly neoclassical architects such as Robert Adam and James Wyatt were prepared to provide Gothic details in drawing-rooms, libraries, and chapels, for a romantic vision of a Gothic abbey, Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire. Inveraray Castle, constructed from 1746 with design input from William Adam, displays early revival of Gothic features in Scotland. The "Gothick" style was an architectural manifestation of the artificial "picturesque" seen elsewhere in the arts: these ornamental temples and summer-houses ignored the structural logic of true Gothic buildings and were effectively Palladian buildings with pointed arches. The eccentric landscape designer Batty Langley even attempted to "improve" Gothic forms by giving them classical proportions.
A younger generation who took Gothic architecture more seriously provided the readership for J. Britten's series of Cathedral Antiquities, which began appearing in 1814. In 1817, Thomas Rickman wrote an Attempt… to name and define the sequence of Gothic styles in English ecclesiastical architecture, "a text-book for the architectural student". Its long title is descriptive: Attempt to discriminate the styles of English architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation; preceded by a sketch of the Grecian and Roman orders, with notices of nearly five hundred English buildings. The categories he used were Norman, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. It went through numerous editions and was still being republished in 1881.
The revived Gothic style was not limited to architecture. Whimsical Gothic detailing in English furniture is traceable as far back at Lady Pomfret's house in Arlington Street, London (1740s), and gothic fretwork in chairbacks and glazing patterns of bookcases is a familiar feature of Chippendale's Director (1754, 1762), where, for example the three-part bookcase employs gothick details with Rococo profusion, on a symmetrical form. Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford exemplifies in its furnishings the "Regency gothic". By the mid-nineteenth century Gothic traceries and niches could be inexpensively re-created in wallpaper, and gothic blind arcading could decorate a ceramic pitcher. The illustrated catalogue for the Great Exhibition of 1851 is replete with gothic detail, from lacemaking and carpet designs to heavy machinery.
Romanticism and nationalism
French neo-Gothic had its roots in a minor aspect of Anglomanie, starting in the late 1780s. In 1816, when French scholar Alexandre de Laborde said "Gothic architecture has beauties of its own", the idea was novel to most French readers. Starting in 1828, Alexandre Brogniart, the director of the Sèvres porcelain manufactory, produced fired enamel paintings on large panes of plate glass, for Louis-Philippe's royal chapel at Dreux. It would be hard to find a large, significant commission in Gothic taste that preceded this one, save for some Gothic features in a handful of jardins à l'anglaise.
The French Gothic revival was set on sounder intellectual footings by a pioneer, Arcisse de Caumont, who founded the Societé des Antiquaires de Normandy at a time when antiquaire still meant a connoisseur of antiquities, and who published his great work on Norman architecture in 1830 (Summerson 1948). The following year Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame appeared, in which the great Gothic cathedral of Paris was at once a setting and a protagonist in a hugely popular work of fiction. Hugo intended his book to awaken a concern for the surviving Gothic architecture, however, rather than to initiate a craze for neo-Gothic in contemporary life. In the same year that Nôtre-Dame de Paris appeared, the new French monarchy established a post of Inspector-General of Ancient Monuments, a post filled in 1833 by Prosper Merimée, who became the secretary of a new Commission des Monuments Historiques in 1837. This was the Commission that instructed Eugène Viollet-le-Duc to report on the condition of the abbey of Vézelay in 1840. Following this, Viollet le Duc set to restore most of the symbolic buildings in France – Notre Dame de Paris, Vézelay, Carcassone, Roquetaillade castle, Mont Saint-Michel, Pierrefonds, Palais des Papes à Avignon . . . . When France's first prominent neo-Gothic church was built, the Basilica of Sainte-Clothilde, Paris, begun in September 1846 and consecrated 30 November 1857, the architect chosen was, significantly, of German extraction, François-Christian Gau (1790–1853); the design was significantly modified by Gau's assistant, Théodore Ballu, in the later stages, to produce the pair of flêches that crown the west end.
Meanwhile, in Germany, interest in the Cologne Cathedral, which had begun construction in 1248 and was still unfinished at the time of the revival, began to reappear. The 1820s Romantic movement brought back interest, and work began once more in 1842, significantly marking a German return of Gothic architecture.
Because of Romantic nationalism in the early 19th century, the Germans, French and English all claimed the original Gothic architecture of the 12th century as originating in their own country. The English boldly coined the term "Early English" for Gothic, a term that implied Gothic architecture was an English creation. In his 1832 edition of Notre Dame de Paris Victor Hugo said "Let us inspire in the nation, if it is possible, love for the national architecture", implying that Gothic was France's national heritage. In Germany with the completion of Cologne Cathedral in the 1880s, at the time the world's tallest building, the cathedral was seen as the height of Gothic architecture. Other major completions of Gothic cathedrals were of Regensburger Dom (with twin spires from 1869–1872), Ulm Münster (with 161 meter tower from 1890) and St. Vitus Cathedral (1844–1929).
In Florence, the Duomo's temporary façade erected for the Medici-House of Lorraine nuptials in 1588–1589, was dismantled, and the west end of the cathedral stood bare again until 1864, when a competition was held to design a new facade suitable to Arnolfo di Cambio's structure and the fine campanile next to it. This competition was won by Emilio De Fabris, and work on his polychrome design and panels of mosaic was begun in 1876 and completed in 1887, creating Neo-Gothic facade. In Indonesia Jakarta Cathedral creating new twin towers on the top was begun in 1891 and completed 1901 by Dutch architect Antonius Dijkmans.
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