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and uniform in all its parts. How often this standard of excellence is really arrived at, even in the portfolio, it would perhaps be difficult to ascertain ; but it is certainly incum
I bent upon those who have the ostensible direction of his movements, if they cannot assist him, at least to refrain from tying his hands. If, indeed, it be right
Small things with greatest," we shall do them a service by repeating Dr. South's pithy observation, that “the knowledge of what ought and what ought not to be done, is a thing too large to be compassed, and too hard to be mastered, without brains and study, parts and contemplation.” It is not to be supposed, that they are fit to take the direction of that which they have never studied, or of which they have, at best, but a very imperfect idea. General instructions, therefore, in the outset, are all that should ever be issued. A statement of the intended form and extent of the edifice, of the style to be employed, and of the limit of expense, are instructions enough ; the architect then goes properly and safely to work, and can easily bring his project within the limit which is prescribed. But when his drawings are completed, he should never submit to have them pared down or altered by an ambitious, a whimsical, or a penurious committee of taste. We have known an instance, where, after a Grecian design had been procured from an architect of acknowledged respectability, one of the committee-men peremptorily insisted on the introduction of pointed windows, giving it to be understood, that he had quite made up his mind to that item, at least, and that he had come into the commission with a full determination to use his whole influence in favor of what he esteemed the handsomest form a window could be made to assume.
The entablature of the Ionic portico was accordingly divided, over the central intercolumn, the pillars were set back, and engaged in the wall, and a huge, equilateral arched window filled up the whole centre of the front, rose through the gap in the horizontal entablature, and finished in a point under the apex of the pediment above it. The church where this was done is now to be seen within twenty miles of Boston.
These are only a few of the absurdities which are introduced by ignorance in authority. The architect who has a real interest in his profession, and who does not follow it
only for the income it affords, should prepare himself to encounter these difficulties, and endeavour, by persuasion and argument, to remove them. It is only by taking this high stand, that he can aid in establishing the dignity of the body to which he belongs. . If he fail of success in his attempts to convince, and finds that he is to be overruled in essential points, we are clearly of opinion, that he is bound in honor and conscience to withdraw. And though these obstacles must always continue, in some degree, to occur,
They might be met with ease, by a determination on the part of professional men to give no assistance whatever, beyond the mere superintendence of construction, unless they be permitted to take the whole design into their own hands, merely receiving broad instructions respecting the style, (and not attend. ing to them unless they like.) They should not make out the smallest detail, unless they were answerable for the whole. In this case, gentlemen architects would be thrown so utterly on their own resources, that, unless those resources were adequate, they would be obliged to surrender the task into more practised hands; and, if they were adequate, if the amateur had paid so much attention to the art as to be capable of giving the design perfectly, it is probable he would not erect any thing strikingly abominable." - Architect. Mag., Vol. IV.
While, then, we are aware that this state of things actually exists, and have thus allowed our acquaintance with the facts, it will perhaps be deemed partial and unfair in us to lay the faults of our architecture, in the first instance, upon its professors. Did we form our judgment from the appearance of executed buildings alone, there would be a strong color of truth in the objection. Swift somewhere intimates, that “what a man is forced to, is no diminution of his wisdom.” But if we look for a moment at the published designs of architects, where no such control as that of which we have spoken has ever existed, or could exist, — the result will not be very different from that at which we have already arrived.
It is understood, that Mr. Shaw, the author of the book which stands at the head of this article, has written and published several works upon subjects connected with the profession of architecture. We have no doubt, that he can draw the contract and indite the specifications for carpenters' and masons' operations, as well as any of his professional
compeers. But it should be recollected, that this is but a very small part of the various learning which an architect is expected, and bound, to possess. We do not see, in the work before us, any evidence of much greater ability. The author appears to be one of those old fashioned five-order men,
who have grown antic in the decline of their favorite system, and have endeavoured, by a vigorous push, to accommodate themselves to the surprising achievements of their later and more successful rivals. But the principle remains the same, though its manifestation is somewhat changed ; and it is not hard to perceive, that he has merely discarded Vitruvius for Benjamin, and Sir William Chambers' " Treatise” for “The Builder's Guide.” We are accordingly presented with Doric cottages and Ionic and Corinthian dwelling-houses in plenty ; the Grecian detail is faultlessly exact, and, no doubt, minutely transcribed from Stuart; but it is only the skin of the lion on the body of the
The parts are grouped into grotesque and heterogeneous forms, and fitted together as a child fits the pieces of a wooden puzzle. The combinations presented are senseless, inanimate, and rigid, mere unmeaning form, without one particle of life-giving spirit ; and the highest praise that can be given them is, that they are purely Grecian, as that term is now understood. They are likely to satisfy the highest aspirations of all admirers of “ classic dwellings,” and to their patronage we specially recommend them. They exhibit a fair example of the happy effect produced by treating an Athenian temple as a dwelling-house for an American family ; and we would refer to plates 9 and 10, in particular, exhibiting a Doric temple with an attic story, as the very beau-ideal of this species of combination. For originality in the invention of ugliness, it may safely stand without a parallel.
Of Gothic architecture, of the power and greatness of talent displayed in the ecclesiastical structures of the Old World, of the noble conceptions of beauty in their design, and of the almost incredible mechanical skill evinced in their construction, Mr. Shaw has, evidently, about as adequate an idea as any quadruped whose name could be selected from the extensive nomenclature of modern zoology. If any thing can go beyond his “Gothic churches,” let it be produced, and we will hold our breath while we look on. We cannot
look at the odd havoc and intermixture they exhibit, without exclaiming with the waggish Petruchio,
“What! up and down), carv'd like an apple tart?
Here's snip, and nip, and cut, and slish, and slash,
Why! what, o' devil's name, tailor, call'st thou this ? " But here, there is perhaps less necessity for remark. The Doric cottages, the Corinthian villas, may be copied, and probably will be, for there is no doubt that they are sufficiently expensive and sufficiently absurd to be at once considered very tasteful; but it is scarcely possible, that any individual can be so misguided as to entertain any predilection for Mr. Shaw's Gothic. We leave the plates, therefore, to speak for themselves, (plates 51 and 52), merely remarking, however, upon the estimate given in the description which is appended to the latter, that “ five hundred persons can be seated with comfort” in the building which it represents, that such comfortable persons must have very little real perception of beauty in theory, and still less regard for it in practice. As a church for the blind, it would doubtless answer as well as any other.
Our limits prevent us from noticing two very excellent churches at Hartford as fully as their merit deserves.
We must pass to a rapid notice of the magnificent church, now erecting in the city of New York, with which we must close our already protracted article. Trinity church stands in Broadway, opposite the head of Wall street, on the site of the old building of that name, a Aimsy edifice erected in 1788. The former church presented no great beauty of appearance, and, upon an examination with a view to extensive repairs, was found to be so much decayed, that it was at once decided to take it down, and erect a new structure more worthy of the increased wealth of the parish, and of the high position which it occupies, as the oldest Episcopal establishment in the commercial metropolis of Anierica. A design having been prepared by the able architect, Mr. Upjohn, it was accepted by the vestry, and the works were soon commenced. The body of the church is now nearly completed. In size, in the delicacy and propriety of its decoration, and in the beauty of its general effect, we are inclined to think, that it surpasses any church erected in England since the revival of the pointed style. The new church of St. Luke, Chelsea, from the designs of Mr. Savage, minutely illustrated in Mr. Britton's descriptions and plates, will bear no comparison with the catholic propriety and finished elegance of this American structure. Governed by simple and consistent principles, the architect has conceived and finished it in the true and delicate spirit of the chastest period. · It rivals the accurate taste of the best works of the fourteenth century, and is carried out upon a scale which we had deemed it impossible to adopt, in a country where architecture is in so chaotic a state. With the single exception of the guild chapels and private chantries introduced by Mr. Pugin in his engraving of a perfect church, it very nearly resembles that enthusiastic ideal of an ecclesiastical edifice of the Middle Ages.
The extreme length of this superb structure is 192 feet. The tower and spire, which rise with an airy grandeur resembling that of the celebrated church of Louth in Lincolnshire, are terminated by a rich crosslet, at the height of 264 feet from the ground. The width of the nave, between the columns, is 37 feet, and the width of the church, in the clear, including the aisles, is 84 feet. There are nine equilateral arched windows on each side of the nave, corresponding in their position to the interior spaces between the piers. The clerestory is unusually lofty, and from its numerous openings will pour down a flood of checkered light upon the marble pavement below. The great window at the end of the chancel is the largest in the building, being 28 feet wide, and 44 feet high. It has fourteen principal compartments, which are to be filled with painted glass, representing the twelve apostles, with the Virgin and child. Under this window stands the altar ; the pulpit is designed to be placed against one of the large columns, about half way down the
The organ is to be placed on a highly sculptured stone screen, over the entrance from the tower to the nave. The pews will be of black walnut, with characteristic panelling and finials, and are to occupy the nave only. The entire cost of the edifice will be over $ 500,000.
We are happy to perceive, by a print of this church recently published, that the spire has been more highly enriched than in the original design. Had it been erected in so plain a style as was at first proposed, it would have been a defect, which, in our eyes, would have ruined the whole building.