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MODERN]
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ARCHITECTURE

was a desire to escape conventional architectural detail and to return to the simplest form of mere building; rock-faced masonry, sometimes of materials picked up on the site; chimneys which were plain shafts of masonry or brickwork; woodwork simply hewn and squared, but the whole arranged with a view to picturesque effect (figs. 97 and 98). This form of American house became an incident in the course of modern architecture; it even had a recognizable influence on English architects. About the same time an impetus of a more special nature was given to American architecture by a man of genius, H. H. Richardson, who, falling back on Romanesque and Byzantine types of architecture as a somewhat unworked field, evolved from them a type of architectural treatment so distinctly his own (though its origines were of course quite traceable) that he came very near the credit of having personally invented a style; at all events he invented a manner, which was so largely admired and imitated that for some ten or fifteen years American architecture showed a distinct tendency to become “Richardsonesque” (see also Plate XVI., fig. 137). As with all architectural fashions, however, people got tired of this, and the influence of another very able American architect, Richard M. Hunt, coupled perhaps with the proverbial philo-Gallic tendencies of the modern American, led to the American architects, during the last decade of the 19th century, throwing themselves almost entirely into the arms, as it were, of France; seeking their education as far as possible in Paris, and adopting the theory and practice of the École des Beaux-Arts so completely that it is often impossible to distinguish their designs, and even their methods of drawing, from those of French architects brought up in the strictest régime of the “École.” By this French movement the Americans have, on the one hand, shared the advantages and the influence of what is undoubtedly the most complete school of architectural training in the world; but, on the other hand, they have foregone the opportunity which might have been afforded them of developing a school or style of their own, influenced by the circumstances of their own requirements, climate and materials. Figs. 133 and 134, Plate XV., show examples of recent American architecture of the European classic type. Thus, in the two countries which in this period have shown the most activity and restlessness in their architectural aspirations, and given the most original thought to the subject, England has constantly tended towards throwing off the yoke of precedent and escaping from the limits of a scholastic style; while America, commencing her era of architectural emancipation with an attempt at first principles and simple but picturesque building, has ended by a pretty general adoption of the highly-developed scholastic system of another country. The contrast is certainly a curious one. Only one original contribution to the art has been made by America in recent days—one arising directly out of practical conditions, viz. the “high buildings” in cities; a form of architecture which may be said to have originated in the fact that New York is built on a peninsula, and extension of the city is only possible vertically and not horizontally. The tower-like buildings (see Plate XV., fig. 131, and Steel Construction, Plate II., figs. 3 and 4), served internally by lifts, to which this condition of things has given rise, form a really new contribution to architecture, and have been handled by some of the American architects in a very effective manner; though, unfortunately, the rage for rapid building in the cities of the United States has led to the adoption of the false architectural system of running up such structures in the form of a steel framing, cased with a mere skin of masonry or terra-cotta, for appearance’ sake, which in reality depends for its stability on the steel framing. It must be admitted, however, to be a new contribution to architecture, and renders New York, as seen from the harbour, a “towered city” in a sense not realized by the poet.


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Fig. 97.—American Type of Country-House Architecture.



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Fig. 98.—American Seaside Villa. (Bruce Price.)



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Fig. 99.—Crane Public Library, Quincy, Mass. (H. H. Richardson.)


Some sketch of the state of recent architectural thought or endeavour in England seemed essential to the subject, since it is there that what may be called the philosophy of architecture has been most debated, and that thought English progress. has had the most obvious and most direct effect on architectural style and movement. That this has been the case has no doubt been largely due to the influence of Ruskin, who, though his architectural judgment was on many points faulty and absurd in the extreme, had at any rate the effect of setting people thinking—not without result. In other countries architecture continued to pursue, up to the close of the century, the scholastic ideal impressed upon it by the Renaissance, without exciting doubt or controversy unless in a very occasional and partial manner, and without any changes save those minor ones arising from changing habits of execution and use of material. In Germany there appears to be a certain tendency to a greater freedom in the use of the materials of classic architecture, a certain relaxation of the bonds of scholasticism; but it has hardly assumed such proportions as to be ranked as a new movement in architecture.

The last years of the 19th century witnessed the progress to an advanced stage of the most remarkable piece of English church architecture of the period, the Roman Catholic cathedral at Westminster, by J. H. Bentley (1839-1902), English churches. a building which is not a Gothic revival, but goes back to earlier (Byzantine) precedents; not, however, without a considerable element of novelty and originality in the design, especially in some of the exterior detail. The interior was intended for decoration in applied marble and mosaic, yet even as a shell of brickwork, with its solid domes and the