« PreviousContinue »
is sufficiently proved by its remains. To these people is attributed the invention of one of the orders of architecture, called after them the Tuscan. We are told by Vitruvius, that the intercolumns of their temples were wide, and that they were linteled with wooden architraves. The Romans appear to have had their first knowledge of architecture from the Etrurians: but it was not till after the conquest of Greece, that they acquired a just relish for its beauties. It seems to have attained to its highest degree of excellence in the reign of Augustus, and continued to flourish till the seat of empire was removed to Byzantium. The works of the Romans were much more numerous than those of any other people. The remains of their palaces, theatres, amphitheatres, baths, mausoleums, and other works, excite at this day the admiration and astonishment of every judicious beholder. Their first temples were round and vaulted, and hence they are accounted the inventors of the dome. The plans of their buildings were more varied than those of the Greeks, who, excepting but in a few instances of small, but beautiful specimens, such as the Tower of the Winds, and the monument of Lycicrates, erected their principal edifices upon rectangular plans. The Romans constructed circular temples crowned with domes, amphitheatres upon elliptic plans, and their theatres, and many other buildings, upon mixt-lined plans. By this variety they formed a style that was both elegant and magnificent. But let it be remembered, that notwithstanding the grandeur, the magnitude, and number of their works, their style was never so pure as in the flourishing ages of Greece. Among the Romans, entablatures were frequently omitted, columns were made to support arches and groined vaults; arcades were substituted for colonades, and vaults for ceilings. In several of their most magnificent public buildings we find stories of arcades upon each other, or in the same front with the solid parts of the masonry decorated with the orders, which, instead of forming an essential part in the construction, are degraded to idle and ostentatious ornaments. This is very conspicuous in the theatre of Marcellus, and in the Coliseum. It is probable that the arch was invented in Greece, but was almost constantly employed by the Romans, who not only considered it necessary in the construction, but as an ornament, which they layishly em
ployed in the apertures of walls, and in the ceilings over passages and apartments of their buildings. Particularly in the decline of the empire, from the reign of Constantime, and upon the establishment of Christianity, external magnificence was every where sacrificed to internal decoration. The purity of taste in the arts of design declined rapidly, and finally perished with the extinction of the empire. The most beautiful edifices, erected in the preceding reigns, were divested of their ornaments, to decorate the churches. In this age of spoliation, architects, deficient in the knowledge of their profession, adopted the most ready modes of construction: to accomplish this, many beautiful structures were deprived of their columns, and placed at wide intervals in the new buildings; and over the capitals were thrown arches for the support of the superstructure: most of the ornamental parts were taken from other buildings, which were spoiled for the purpose. The edifices of Italy now assumed the same general features as those which characterised the middle ages. This disposition is the plan of the Roman basilicas, but is more nearly allied, in the elevation, to the opposite sides of the Egyptian oeci, which has also the same plan as the basilica, and which was of similar construction to the churches in after times, excepting in the want of arches: both had a nave, with an aisle upon each flank, separated from the nave by a range of columns, which supported a wall, pierced with windows for lighting the nave: against this wall, and over the columns, were placed other attached columns. This, when roofed over with a groined ceiling, such as that of the Temple of Peace, will form the interior of a building, similar to that of the Saxon churches. o The Corinthian order was the favourite, order among the Romans, and as far as existing examples enable us to judge, the only order well understood, and happily executed. What we now call the Composite order, is of Roman extraction: it was employed in many of their buildings, but chiefly in the triumphal arches: from what we find in Vitruvius, it was never accounted a distinct order, but as a species of the Corinthian only. The only existing example that Rome affords of the Doric order, is that executed in the theatre of Marseilles, and, though in the age of Augustus, is but a vitiated composition: the coluuns are meagre and plain,
divested of that sublime grandeur and elegance which are so conspicuousin the solidity and flutings of the Grecian Doric. The dentils in the cornice are too effeminate a substitute for the masculine mutules which are so characteristic of the origin of this order. The Ionic in the same building is ill executed. The channels of the volutes, of the capitals, of the Ionic columns on the Coloseum, and the dentil band of the cornice, are not cut. The Ionic order of the Temple of Fortune, though it has been held out as a model, is ill proportioned, and the spirals of the volutes are ungracefully formed. The Ionic of the Temple of Concord is out of character, the volutes are insignificantly small, and mutules supply the place of dentils in the cornice. The Romans placed one order upon another, on the exterior, in the several stories of some of their buildings; but the Greeks only employed them around the cells of their temples, forming a peristyle. The Romans carried the method of cementitious buildings to the utmost degree of perfection. Their most considerable edifices had the facings of their walls, and the arches and angles of brick, or small ruble stones squared; the cores built with pebble and ruble stones, grouted or run with liquid mortar; and at regular intervals were
strengthened with courses of bond stones.
This construction of walls was frequently stuccoed, or incrusted with marble. It is much more expeditious and economical than that built of wrought stone, which occasions a greater waste of materials and loss of time. The durability and solidity of the Roman cementitious buildings is such, that
mortar has acquired a hardness superior to ,
the stones which connected by it. This, when compared with the frigility and crumbling nature of the mortar used by modern builders, had led some to suppose that the ancients possessed processes in the making of cements, which have, from the lapse of time, been lost to the present day. But the information and experiments of ingenious men have exploded this opinion; and there is no doubt, that if proper attention be paid to the choice of lime-stone and sand, to the burning of the lime, and above all, that care be taken in the mixing and tempering these materials, workmen will be enabled to rival those of Rome. This has been tried in some instances, though the lapse of ages may be mecessary to make the comparison complete; however, it will appear from the following ac
count of Vitruvius,that the method of making lime by the Romans was not very different from wi.at it is at the present day. “Lime sliould be burnt from white stone, or flint, of which the thick and hard sort are more proper for building walls, as those which are porous are for plastering. When the lime is burnt the ingredients are thus to be mixed: with three parts of pit sand, one part of lime is to be mingled; but if river or sea sand is used, two parts of sand, and one of lime must be united; for in these proportions the mortar will have a proper consistence: if bricks, or tiles, pounded, and sifted, be joined with river or pit sand, to the quantity of a third part, it will make the mortar stronger and fitter for use.” The works of wrought stone of the Romans as well as those of the Greeks, were constructed without cement; but cramps and ligatures of iron and bronze were used in great abundance. The use of metal was not confined to cramps and bolts, for they even constructed roofs of bronze, which was also used in magnificent profusion in the decorations of buildings. It excites regret to reflect, that the means employed by the antients to increase the beauty, and ensure the duration of their edifices, have only, in many instances, served to acceleiate their destruction. These valuable materials have caused much dilapidation, and more buildings have been ruined by rapine, than by the injuries of time. In the works of the Greeks and the Romans, of hewn stone, they appear to have wrought only the beds of the stones, before they were placed in the building, leaving the faces to be worked af. ter the completion of the edifice. By this means, the arisses and the mouldings were preserved from injury, and the faces made exactly in the same plane, or surface, which is not generally the case in the facings of our modern works. Our workmen pass them over in the most slovenly manner, with the greatest indifference, by rounding the stones which happen to project at the joints, which gives them a false and irregular appearance in sunshine. By this means, also, the ancients diminished and fluted their columns, which could not be done with the same accuracy any other way. After the fall of the Roman empire, the Goths having now the dominion of those places formerly the seat of the arts, and having soon become converts to Christianity, but having no established rules of their own, in the principles of architecture, either built their churches in the form of the Roman basilica, or converted the basilica into churches. Architecture continued during their government with little alteration in the general forms, from that which had been practised at the decline of the Roman empire; but ignorance in proportion, and a depraved taste in the ornamental department, at last deprived their edifices of that symmetry and beauty which were so conspicuous in the works of the ancients. However, the knowledge of architectural elements was still preserved among them, and of the various forms of vaulting used by the Greeks and Romans, they adopted that of groins or cross arching. From what has been said, it will be easy to shew, that the Goths had no share in the invention of that style of building which still bears their name. The architecture of Italy, at the time they ceased to be a nation, was nothing but debased Roman, which was the archetype for the first Saxon churches erected in this country. The term Gothic seems to have originated in Italy, with the restorers of the Grecian style, and was applied by the followers of Palladio and Inigo Jones, to all the structures erected in the interval between the beginning of the twelfth and end of the fifteenth centuries, probably with a view to stigmatize those beautiful edifices, and to recover the ancient manner. This term is therefore of modern application: it was not used in Italy till the pointed style had gained the summit of perfection, nor yet in England, when this species of architecture ceased to be in use, and the Grecian restored. This manner of building, like most other arts, required a succession of ages to bring it to maturity, and the principal cause which seems to have effected this, was that desire of novelty so inherent in the mind of man to produce something new, and a total disregard to the proportions of ancient edifices. Having now traced the Grecian style from the place of its invention to its decline in Italy, we shall follow the steps by which this corrupted ill-proportioned Italian style at last assumed a character so different from the original, as to become in a few centuries a distinct species of architecture, which not only exhibited beautiful proportions, and elegant decorations, but also majestic grandeur and sublimity in its fabrication. To do this, it will not be necessary to seek abroad for those successive changes; as the different gradations can be distinctly traced at home. The first Saxon churches here VOL. I.
were either constructed, with however rude imitation, after models of Roman temples, which we may presume then remained in Britain, or by foreigners brought from Rome and France. The manner of building at this time was called Roman, the term Gothic not being applied till the end of several centuries, It has been observed, that a quadrangular walled inclosure, divided in the breadth into three parts, by two colonaded arcades, supporting on the imposts of the arches, two other opposite higher walls, through which the light descended into the middle part, and upon which the roof rested, was known to the Romans before the Goths appeared in Italy. Now this construction is the general outline of the Saxon, Norman, and the pointed styles of building churches, and is also that form of structure most advantageous for lighting the interior, upon the same plan; for, though the roof might have been equally well supported by columns, instead of the interior walls, and extending those of the exterior to the whole height, the intensity of light produced from the same number of windows on the sides, thus far removed from the middle of the edifice, would have been greatly diminished. It may also be farther observed, that no other form of building was so favourable for vaulting: for a vaulted roof could neither have been thrown to the whole breadth, nor in the three compartments, without walls of enormous thickness, which would not only have added to the breadth, but would have been attended with prodigious additional expenses. The Saxon style is easily recognized by its massive columns and semicircular arches, which usually spring from capitals without the intervention of the entablature. In the first Saxon buildings the mouldings were extremely simple, the greater part consisting of fillets and plat-bands, at right angles to each other, and to the general façade. The archivolts and imposts were similar to those found in Roman edifices. The general plan and disposition of the latter Saxon churches were as follow; the chief entrance was at the west end into the nave, at the upper end of which was a cross, with the arms of it extending north and south; the east end, containing the choir, terminated in a semicircular form. A tower was erected over the centre of the cross, and to contain the bells another was frequently added, and sometimes two. The large churches contained a nave and
two side aisles, one on each side of the nave, and were divided into three tiers or stories, the lower consisting of a range of arcades on each side, the middle, a range of galleries between the roof and the vaulting of the aisles, and the uppermost, a range of windows. The pillars were either square, polygonal, or circular. Such was the thickness of the walls and pillars, that buttresses were not necessary, neither were they in use. The apertures are splayed from the mullions on both sides. The dressings are generally placed on the sides of the splayed jambs and heads of the arches, and but seldom against the face of the walls, and when this is the case, the projectures are not very prominent. The dressings of the jambs frequently consist of one, or several engaged columns upon each side. The imposts, particularly those of the windows, have frequently the appearance of being a part of the wall itself. The doors in general are formed in deep recession, and a series of equidistant engaged columns placed upon each jamb, and were such, that two horizontal straight lines would pass through the axis of each series, and would, if produced, terminate in a point. Each column is attached to a recess formed by two planes, constituting an interior right angle. The angle at the meeting of every two of these recesses formed an exterior right angle, which was sometimes obtunded, and frequently hollowed. The archivolts resting on the capitals of the columns are formed on the soffit shelving, like the jambs below. The ornaments of columns and mouldings are of very simple forms. The rudely sculptured figures which often occur in doorcases, when the head of the door itself is square, indicate a Roman original, and are mostly referable to an aera immediately preceding the conquest. After the Norman conquest, the general forms of the parts remained the same, though the extent and dimensions of the churches were greatly enlarged; the vaultings became much more lofty, the pillars of greater diameter, the ornaments more frequent and elaborately finished; towers of very large dimensions and great height were placed either in the centre, or at the west end of the cathedral and conventual churches. These were often ornamented with arcades in tiers of small intersecting arches on the outside. About the end of the reign of Henry I. circular arches, thick walls without prominent buttresses, and massive pillars with a kind of regular base
and capital, generally prevailed; the capitals of the pillars were often left plain, though there were a few instances of sculptured capitals, foliage, and animals. The shafts of the pillars were usually plain cylinders, or had semicolumns attached to them. The first transition of the arch appears to have taken place towards the close of the reign of Stephen, its figure which had hitherto been circular, becoming slightly pointed, and the heavy single pillar inade into a pilastered cluster which was at first ill formed, but gradually assumed a more elegant figure and graceful proportion, the archivolts still retaining many of the Saxon ornaments. It may here be observed, that antecedent to this period, neither tabernacles nor niches with canopies, statues in whole relief, pinnacles, pediments, or spires, nor any tracery in the vaultings were used; but at this time, or soon after, these began to obtain. Towards the close of the 13th century, the pillars, then supporting sharply pointed arches, were much more slender; the ceilings were seemingly sustained by groined ribs resting on the capitals of the pillars, and the windows were lighted by several openings in place of one. After the reign of Stephen, the circular and pointed arches were frequently employed in the same building; but the pointed style gaining more and more upon the circular, prevailed ultimately at the close of the reign of Henry III. and prevented all farther confusion of mixture. The architecture of this age now exhibited uniformity of parts, justness of proportions, and elegance of decoration; the arcades and pillars became numerous, the single shafts were divided into a multiplicity of equal slender, distinct shafts, constructed of purbeck marble, and collected under one capital, luxuriantly decorated with leaves of the palm tree. The east and west windows began to be widely expanded, these required a number of mullions, which, as well as the ribs and transoms of the vaulting, began to ramify from the springing of the arches into a variety of tracery, which was uniformly ornamented with rosettes or polyfoil, cuspidated figures forming trefoils, quatrefoils, &c. Canopies were introduced over the arches, and in rich work were decorated with crockets and creeping foliage, and terminated in a flower. The buttresses were made in several diminished stages towards the top, and mostly terminated with pursled pinnacles. In the reign of Edward II. detached columns were laid aside, and pillars nearly of the same proportion as formerly, with vertical or columnar mouldings wrought out of the solid, were adopted. The east and west windows were so enlarged as to take up nearly the whole breadth of the nave, and carried up almost as high as the vaulting, and were beautifully ornamented with lively colours on stained glass. In the early part of the reign of Edward III. arcades with low arches and sharp points prevailed; over the arcades was generally placed a row of open galleries, origimally introduced in Saxon churches. About the end of the reign of Richard II. A. D. 1399, the pillars became more tall and slender, forming still more lofty and open arcades, the columns which formed the cluster were of different diameters, the capitals more complicated, the vaults at the intersection of the ribs were studded with knots of foliage, the canopies of the arches were universally purfled, and terminated with a rich knot of flowers: the pillastered buttresses flanking the sides were crowned with elaborate finials, the flying buttresses were formed on segments of circles in order to give them lightness, and strength at the same time. From the close of the 14th century no remarkable change appears to have taken place; the grander members continued their original dimensions and form, and the ornamental parts became distinguished by greater richness and exuberance. Another change took place in the reign of Edward IV. its leading features are principally to be seen in the vaultings, the horizontal sections of which had been generally projecting right angles, but were now arches of circles; the surface of the vaults being such as might be generated by a concave curve revolving round a vertical line, as an axis which was immediately over the pillars. This species of groining unknown in preceding ages, was favourable for a beautiful display of tracery. Equidistant concave ribs in vertical planes were intersected by horizontal convex circular ribs, aud the included pannels were beautifully ornamented with cusps, forming an infinite variety of the most elegant tracery, which from its appearance has been denominated fan work. From the commencement of the reign of King Henry VIII. a mixed or debased style began to take place, from our intercourse with the Italians. The iugenious Mr. Britton, in his valuable architectural
antiquities of Great Britain, has classed the various styles in the following order, which we shall adopt, and shall be happy to find the same appropriate terms adopted also in future publications, wherever ideas of the objects represented by them are the subjects of inquiry. We are sensible this is the only means of facilitating a knowledge of this study, by removing equivocal words, and thereby making architectural language intelligible. First Style. Anglo-Saxon; this will embrace all buildings that were erected between the times of the conversion of the Saxons, and the Norman conquest, from A. D. 599 to A. D. 1066. Second Style. Anglo Norman, by which will be meant, that style which prevailed from 1066 to 1189, including the reigns of Williams I. and II., Henry I., Stephen and Henry II. Third Style. English, from 1189 to 1272, embracing the reigns of Richard I., John, and Henry III. Fourth Style. Decorated English, from 1272 to 1461, including the reigns of Edwards I., II., III., Richard II., Henrys IV., W., and VI. Fifth Style. Highly decorated florid English, from 1461 to 1509, including the reigns of Edwards IV. and V., Richard III., and Henry VII. From this arra we loose all sight of congruity; and the public buildings erected during the reigns of Henry VIII., Elizabeth, and James I. may be characterised by the terms of debased English, or AngloItalian. Mr. Britton observes, “that during the intermediate time when one style was o; into repute and the other sinking in favour, there will be found a mixture of both in one building, which is not referable to either, and which has constituted the greatest problem in antiquarian science.” Before we leave this subject, it will be necessary to give some account of the materials employed in the fabrication, and of the principles in the construction of those immense piles, which at once united grandeur, magnificence, and awful sublimity in their structure. In the erection of these edifices, heavy cornices, entablatures, and lintels were omitted, and there was seldom occasion to use any stones larger than a man might carry on his back up a ladder from one scaffold to another, though spoke
wheels and pullies were occasionally used. . . From the adoption of such light materials, *