Open main menu

Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/119

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Part I.

The styles of the New World, havincy as vet no acknowledged connection with those of the Old, may be for the present treated of anywhere.

The fourth and last oreat division, formins: the fourth volume of the present work, is that of the "Modern or Copying Styles of Architecture," meaning thereby those which are the products of the renaissance of the classical styles that marked the epoch of the cinquecento period. These have since that time prevailed generally in Europe to the present day, and are now making the tour of the world. Within the limits of the present century it is true that the copying of the classical styles has to some extent been superseded by a more servile imitation of those of mediaeval art. The forms have consequently changed, but the principles remain the same.

It would of course be easy to point out minor objections to this or to any scheme, but on the whole it will be found to meet the exigencies of the case as we now know it, as well or perhaps better than any other. The greatest difficulty in carrying it out is to ascertain how far the geographical arrangement should be made to supersede the chronological and ethnographical. Whether, for instance, Italy should be considered as a whole, or if the buildings of the eastern coast should not be described as belonging to the Byzantine, and those of the western coast to the Gothic kingdom? Whether the description of the Temple at Jerusalem should stop short with the rebuilding by Zorobabel, or be continued till its final completion under Herod? If the former course is pursued, we cut in two a perfectly consecutive narrative; if the latter, we get far in advance of our chronological sequence.

In both of these instances, as in many others it is a choice of difficulties, and where frequently the least strictly logical mode of proceeding may be found the more convenient.

After all, the real difficulty lies not so much in arranging the materials as in Aveighing the relative importance to be assigned to each division. In Avandering over so vast a field it is difficult to prevent personal predilection from interfering with purely logical criticism. Although architecture is the most mechanical of the fine arts, and consequently the most amenable to scientific treatment, still as a fine art it must be felt to be appreciated, and when the feelings come into play the reason is sometimes in danger. Though strict impartiality has been aimed at in assigning the true limits to each of the divisions above pointed out, few probably will be of the same opinion as to the degree of success which has been achieved in the attempt.