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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/72

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Part I.
HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

should be constrained to yield to the more prosaic requirements of the building. The chance-medley manner in which many such buildings were grouped together in the Middle Ages tells the story as clearly, and may be productive of great picturesqueness of effect, but not of the same nobility as might have been obtained by more regularity. The highest class of design will never be reached by these means.

It is not difficult to discover, at least to a certain extent, that the cause of this is that no number of separate units will suffice to make one whole. A number of pebbles will not make a great stone, nor a number of rose-bushes an oak; nor will any number of dwarfs make up a giant. To obtain a great whole there must be unity, to which all the parts must contribute, or they will remain separate particles. The effect of unity is materially heightened Avhen to it is added uniformity; the mind then instantly and easily grasps the whole, knows it to be one, and recognizes the ruling idea that governed and moulded the whole together. It seems only to be by the introduction of uniformity that sufficient simplicity for greatness can be obtained, and the evidence of design made so manifest that the mind is satisfied that the building is no mere accumulation of separate objects, but the production of a master-mind.

In a palace irregularity seems unpardonable. The architect has there practically unlimited command of funds, and of his arrangements, and he can easily design his suites of rooms so as to produce any amount of uniformity he may require: the different heights of the different stories, and the amount of ornament on them, with the employment of wings for offices, is sufficient to mark the various purposes of the various parts; but where the system is carried so far in great public buildings, that great halls, libraries, committee-rooms, and subordinate residences are all squeezed into one perfectly uniform design, the building loses all meaning, and fails from the opposite error.

The rule seems to be, that every building, or every part of one, ought most distinctly and clearly to express not only its constructive exigencies, but also the uses for which it is destined; on the other hand, that mere utility, in all instances where architectural effect is aimed at, ought to give way to artistic requirements; and that an architect is consequently justified, in so far as his means will admit, in producing that amount of uniformity and regularity which seems indispensable for anything like grandeur of effect. In villas and small buildings all we look for is picturesqueness and meaning combined with elegance; but in larger and more monumental erections we expect something more; and this can hardly be obtained without the introduction of some new element which shall tell, in the first place, that artistic excellence was tlie ruling idea of the design, and in the next should give it that perfect balance and symmetry which seem to be as inherent a quality of the higher works of nature as of true art.