Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Neoclassical 18th Century Architecture

The Age of Enlightenment was a movement that began in the late 17th century and ran through 18th century Europe. People began to appreciate the likes of Galileo (largely posthumously) and the period was dominated by the ethos that the human race are great and intelligent. The beginning of this period artistically was dominated by the Baroque and Rococo although as scientific innovations and a new age of philosophy sank in, neoclassicism began its rise to the top. The visual equivalent to the age of reason surely could only be classicism, the style that accompanied the rise of advanced civilisations in the past (Roman and Greek!).

J. G Soufflot, Ste. Genevieve (now the Pantheon), 1757-89
Usually through the ages England have been lagging behind. This time however, we ACTUALLY influenced French architecture! The dome is an obvious reference to St. Pauls in London which had been finished in 1720. The idea of 'movement' in Baroque and Rococo architecture has miraculously dissapeared. The way in which the two styles before had pediments, pilasters, columns and other features invading one another's space, neoclassicism reverts back to strong, unmoving facades where everything has it's own place.

William Kent, Holkham Hall, 1734-64
This has neoclassical feature in the portico entrance. I can only imagine that was the latest part to be constructed (which would make sense in the 1760's). Other than that though it had much Venetian influence from the Palladian movement in the early 16th century and even Elizabethan influence (look at Hardwick Hall below, 1590-97)

I really do love this place so much that I tried to make a sims version of it (had to make changes though because my sims weren't too keen what is life!!!):

Robert Adam, Osterley House, (I visited it a while ago and did a post about it here)

Syon House, 1761-68
This is the hall to the house. You can see a Dying Gaul statue and an Apollo Belvedere statue. He apparently was first and foremost a neoclassical architect (as is very clear below), however he was also an interior designer. It may not be obvious here, but in the rooms he 'completely designed' (as in furniture, wallpaper and architecture) it is. They're a lot more colourful and prettier (in my opinion). Although quoting classical architecture, he tries his hand at making little alterations and claims "fidelity to the spirit of the ancients' - implying that if the ancients were here now, they'd probably alter their language too. It is most notable in the half domes with a coffered celining (you'd think a dome would be a dome, as in, 2 halves) and the columns. He's tried to create somekind of 'british order'.  I think the base of his alterations were made on a column of the Ionic order, with the fluted pilasters and a base. However, there are no volutes to make it distinctly Ionic and the echinus-abacus ratio is too wrong to be Doric. The added touch of a coloured echinus is different too.

Kedleston Hall, 1759-65
The base of the design is on that of a triumphal arch - look at the middle area with three clear subdivisions of space.

William Chambers, Somerset House, 1775-1801
Has a look of St. Pauls (especially the cupola) and by extension the Pantheon, too.

Sir John Soane, Bank of England, 1790, 1833
Although this is a sketch of it and not a photograph, the architects' sketches tell us a lot about the architect. The way Soane has coloured the whole design in a very pale colour, and left essence of intruding light, the whole imagery becomes Romantic and sublime.

Ettiene-Louis Boullee, Newton's Cenitaph, 1785
A brilliant way to remember an incredibly talented mathmatician is to build him a massive sphere? Considered mathematically perfect, just like Newton... ??

Project for the Royal Library, 1785
Here we see the beginnings of train station architecture, it looks forward to the gigantic basilica type railway stations that begin to pop up in the 19th century.

William Thornton, Benjamin Latrobe, US Capitol Building, 1793
Again there is clear influence from St. Pauls, St. Peter's, the French Pantheon....

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