Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/465

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
434
[MODERN
ARCHITECTURE

number of great building schemes which fell into his hands, and he had much more of the qualities of a great architect than are to be found in the works of some of his latter-day critics. His later works, one or two of which will be referred to, do not come under the head of the Gothic revival.

In France, the Gothic revival, which so strongly affected the whole school of English architecture for thirty or forty years, took little hold. Its most remarkable monument is the church of Ste Clotilde at Paris, built about the France. middle of the century from the designs of Ballu. In size it equals a second-class cathedral, and is a fine monument, though it does not show that complete knowledge of medieval Gothic which we find in the churches of Scott, Street, Pearson and G. F. Bodley. But as with the Classic, so with the Gothic revival—the leading French architects of the period had too much personal architectural feeling to be carried along in the wake of a “movement.” Two very important Paris churches, built just after the middle of the century, illustrate well this independence of spirit. The one is the domed church of St Augustin in the Boulevard Malesherbes (Plate XII., fig. 122), designed by Victor Baltard (1805-1874). It may be called a Classic church treated in a quasi-Byzantine manner. A remarkable point about it is that, standing between the divergence of two streets at an acute angle, the outer walls of the nave follow the line of the two streets, the church thus expanding towards the centre; internally the colonnades are parallel, the chapels outside of them increasing in depth from the entrance of the nave towards the centre—a very clever device for reconciling exterior and interior effect. The other church referred to, built about the same time, is La Trinité (Plate XII., fig. 123) by Théodore Ballu (1817-1885)—a church which is Renaissance in detail and yet distinctly Gothic in its general effect and in the multiplicity of its detail, somewhat recalling in this sense Barry’s Halifax tower before referred to. The sense in which there has really been a general movement in church architecture in France has been in the direction of a kind of modernized Byzantine, of which one of the earliest and best examples is the church of St Pierre de Montrouge, by Joseph Auguste E. Vaudremer (Plate XII., fig. 124). A later and more important example is the cathedral of Marseilles, by Léon Vaudoyer (1803-1872) and Henry Espérandieu (1829-1874), a mingling of Romanesque and Byzantine, and in many respects a fine building (Plate XIII., fig. 126). This modern feeling in favour of a Byzantine type of church architecture culminated in the great church of the Sacré Coeur on Montmartre, at Paris, begun in the early ’eighties from the designs of Paul Abadie (1812-1884). This grand building stands on a most effective site, and is of a monumental solidity seldom met with in modern architecture; it is more pure and consistent in style than many of the smaller churches of the same school of architecture. These latter are not for the most part very attractive; they represent in general a kind of Frenchified Byzantine detail which exhibits neither Byzantine spirit nor French grace and finish; and on the whole it may be said that church architecture is the field in which the French architects of the 19th century were least successful.

As regards secular buildings, on the other hand, the Paris of the middle portion of the 19th century can show some of the most unquestionable architectural successes of the period. The modern portions of the Palais de Justice by Louis Joseph Duc (1802-1879)—not Viollet-le-Duc, as is often mistakenly asserted in guide-books—and of the École des Beaux-Arts, by Jacques Félix Duban (1797-1870), are among the best examples of the application of classic forms of architecture to modern buildings; and the Bibliothèque Ste Geneviève (Plate XIII., fig. 128), by Henri Labrouste (1801-1875), was in its day (about 1850) a new creation in applied classic architecture; a building in which the exterior design was entirely subservient to and expressive of the requirements of a library, a large portion of the wall being left unpierced for the storage of books, windows being only inserted where they did not interfere with this object; and the manner in which these walls are treated so as to produce a decorative architectural effect without having recourse to sham colonnades and sham window openings, was entirely new at the time in modern work. It is instructive to compare this design with that of the Bank of England, as examples of the right and the wrong way of treating buildings in which much blank wall space was required. The new buildings of the Louvre (Plate XIV., fig. 129), built under Napoleon III. from the designs of Louis Tullius Joachim Visconti (1791-1853), are not to be passed over, though they have too much of the showy and flaunting character which belonged to both the society and the art of the Second Empire; a fault which also destroys some of the value of the Grand Opera house, a remarkable work by a remarkable architect (Jean Louis Charles Garnier), and typical, more than any other structure, of the epoch in which it was built. Some of its effect it owes to the admirable painting and sculpture with which it is decorated, but the grand staircase is a fine architectural conception (see Garnier).

In England and in the United States, the last quarter of the 19th century was a period of unusual interest and activity in architectural development. While other nations have been content to carry on their architecture, for the Recent English architecture. most part, on the old scholastic lines which had been prevalent since the Renaissance, in the two countries named there has been manifest a spirit of unrest, of critical inquiry into the basis and objects of architecture; an aspiration to make new and original creations in or applications of the art, without example in any other period in the modern history of architecture. In England, the “note”—heard with increasing shrillness of crescendo towards the very last year of the century—was the cry for originality, for throwing off the trammels of the past, for rendering architecture more truly a direct expression of the conditions of practical requirement and of structure. This was no doubt to some extent the effect of a reaction. During the greater part of the century architectural strength, as has been already shown, had been spent in revivals of past styles. Churches indeed, up to the close of the century, continued to be built, for the most part, in revived Gothic; but this was owing to special clerical influence, which saw in Gothic a style specially consecrated to church architecture, and would be satisfied, as a rule, with nothing else. Efforts have been made by architects to modify the medieval church plan into something more practically suited to modern congregational worship, by a system of reducing the side aisles to mere narrow passages for access to the seats, thus retaining the architectural effect of the arcade, while keeping it out of the way of the seated congregation; and there have been occasional reversions to the ancient Christian basilica type of plan, or sometimes, as in the church in Davies Street, London, attempts to treat a church in a manner entirely independent of architectural precedent; but in the main, Gothic has continued to rule for churches. Apart from this special class of building, however, revived Gothic began to droop during the ’seventies. All had been copied that could be copied, and the result, to the architectural mind, was not satisfaction but satiety. Gothic began to be regarded as “played out.” The immediate result, however, was not an organized attempt to think for ourselves, and make our own style, but a recourse to another class of precedent, represented in the type of early “Queen Anne.” 18th-century building which became known as “Queen Anne,” and which, like Gothic before it, was now to be recommended as “essentially English,” as in fact it is. It can hardly, however, be called an architectural style; it would have no right to figure in any work illustrating the great architectural styles of the world. It was, in fact, the last dying phase of the English Renaissance; the architecture of the classic order reduced to a threadbare condition, treated very simply and in plain materials, in many cases shorn of its columnar features, and reflecting faithfully enough the prim rationalistic taste in literature and art of the England of the 18th century. Though not to be dignified as a style, it was, however, a recognizable and consistent manner in building; it made extensive use of brick, a material inexpensive and at the same time very well suited to the English climate and atmosphere; and it was generally carried out in very solid proportions, and with very good workmanship. To a generation tired of imitating a great style at second hand, this unpretending and simple model was a welcome relief, and led to the erection of a considerable number of modern buildings, dwelling-houses especially, the obvious aim of which was to look as like 18th-century buildings as possible. A typical example is the large London house by Norman Shaw, at the corner of Queen’s Gate and Imperial Institute Road The Chelsea town hall (fig. 94), by J. M. Brydon (1840-1901), is a good example of a public building in the revived Queen Anne style.