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Victorian Architecture

Victorian Architecture

During the Victorian period, there was a revival of classical (Greek and Roman), Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Romantic architects replicated Greek and Roman buildings, which were revered as the ultimate examples of beauty (Sporre 487; Tansey 932). Increased nationalism in England also sparked a revival of Gothic architecture. After the Houses of Parliament burnt down in London (1834), the task of redesign the new building was assigned to Charles A. Barry and Augustus W. N. Pugin. Their Gothic design of the new Houses of Parliament make it a prime example of Victorian architecture today (Tansey 955).

It is important to recognize that Romantic architecture was not only a return to the past. Modern technologies and materials, as well as non-European influences, also played a role. (Sporre 495-98; Tansey 956). One example is the Crystal Palace designed by Sir Joseph Paxton for the Great Exhibition in London (1851). Made of iron and glass, it was designed to be rapidly put together and taken apart. Another noted architectural example of this period was John Nash’s Royal Pavilion in Brighton (1815-18). The design of this palace was greatly influenced by Islamic and Eastern architecture (Flynn; Sporre 495-98; Tansey 956, 1014).

Victorian architecture was both a rediscovery of the past and the precursor of Modern architecture. Some buildings embodied both of these characteristics. The Houses of Parliament and the Crystal Palace’s outside architecture had little to do with their functions and internal design. Their architects were revolutionizing the world of architecture and ushering in the Modern era (Sporre 495-98).

Tansey, Richard G., and Fred S. Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through The Ages. 10th ed. Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 1996. 926-1017.

Sporre, Dennis J. The Creative Impulse: An Introduction to The Arts. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall. 478-511.

Flynn, Suzanne Johnson. "Victorian Aesthetics." Gettysburg University. 1998. 23 Jan. 2002 .

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