Page images


bounded the proportions, as shown in fig. 1053 The

several Roman examples se Jected differ in ar. rangement, but not in principle, from the description given by Poliphile: take away the pedestals on which the columns placed, and then four squares in height include half the tympanum, and eighteen squares the entire figure, 6 of which may be considered as devoted to the arch, and the other 12 to supports : or, if we comprise the whole façade in 20 squares, and abstract the 8 which belong to the opening between the pedestals, we have 4 for each pier or sup

Fig. 1049. port, and 4 for the entablature, the supported being only the quantity contained in the two supports: resistance to the areli, or its thrust, requires a different arrangement from that of a portico, but we nevertheless find definite proportions made use of, and a double quantity given to masses which have to bear weight as well as resist thrust.

The Arch of Augustus at Rimini has the height of its order determined by the length of the frieze.

The Arch of Augustus at Aosta resembles that of Titus in arrangement; it is a perfect square comprising the attic.



Fig. 1050.


The Arch of Sergius at Pola is a perfect square, without attic, like that of Titus.

The Arch of Titus at Rome, raised by the senate and Roman people to commemorate the conquest of Judæa, is one of the best examples of proportion that remain: built of white marble, it is a monument of constructive art, some of the blocks being 9 feet square, and 2 feet thick; the arch is composed of eleven voussoirs 16 feet deep. For

a detailed account of its construction and ornament the reader is re. ferred to the “ Architectural Antiquities of Rome.”

The proportions are a square, as is the opening of the archway, up to the springing; and not a double square, as described by Serlio. The pedestals are in height nearly half the opening of the archway, which Palladio observes was the ordinary proportion

Fig. 1051. given by the ancients. The entire length of the upper member of the cornice in this example is 48 feet, which dimension corresponds with the entire height, almost to a fraction : the width of the opening is 17 feet 6 inches, a trifle more than one-third of the entire width: bounding the façade by a parallelogram, excluding the attic, and drawing two diagonals, we obtain the centre from which the arch is struck, which rule will apply to the other


[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

triumphal arches with a single opening, though varying materially from the principles laid down by Poliphile, and adopted by Serlio and other architects at the revival of Italian architecture. The Arch of Titus is a square comprising its entire façade ; that of Poliphile a square up to the under side of the entablature; consequently, the opening of the triumphal way is in width half the height to the top of the impost upon which the archivolt rests, while in the more ancient the entire aperture without the arch is a square.

In the Arch of Poli. phile the entablature and pediments nearly equal in quantity to each of the piers upon which they are carried; and the piers themselves are in width only one quarter of the whole breadth of the façade: it will be found, however, that nearly the same proportions exist between supports and supported in both examples.

The Arch of Augustus at Susu has a single arch: proportion a square to the top of the entabla Fig. 1053. ture, opening a square to the springing: width divided into four, two given to the opening and one to each pier, which has a three-quarter column at the angle: attic as high as piers are wide.

In arches with three openings, as those of Septimus Severus and Constantine, these




Vig 1054.


occupy one-half the width, and the piers the other : where the diagonals of the figure cross is the centre, from which the principal arch is struck.

The Arch of Trajan at Beneventum. — Circle struck from the centre which describes the archivolt; comprises all within it except the attic: division of width into seven, two for each pier, three for centre; attic half the height of the order.


Fig. 1055. In the foregoing examples, we have attempted to show that the beauty which belongs to form in architecture rests upon one principle based on the laws of nature, and that the first element in a good design is the proportion of the parts as well as the whole: nothing has more misled the critics upon this subject, as well as architects themselves, than implicitly following the rules laid down for drawing the orders. In treating upon the antique, they have frequently been right as far as regards the letter, but essentially wrong in the spirit. The laws of nature do not vary, nor do our organs of sense or perception, and what was apparently fit and proper in the opinions of the Greeks is equally so at the present day : in their sculptures we never find a man represented carrying more than his own weight, and such laws ought to be our guide.

After the destruction of the Roman empire, the character impressed upon architecture by the Greeks was lost : other styles arose in succession, which have been designated as Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic, Saxon, Norman, Saracenic, and Pointed. The five first retained the semicircular arch, and only differed in the quantity of material employed : for examples of the three first-mentioned we must refer to a work entitled “ Architecture of the Middle Ages at Pisa," by Edward Cresy and G. L. Taylor, containing measurements made in 1817.



Sect. I.


The question that first naturally arises is, What is Gothic or Mediæval architecture ? Although Rickman, in his essay mentioned on page 929, gave a sketch in which he wished to show the differences between Classic and Gothic architecture, the first real attempt at defining the character of Mediæval art seems to have been made by the late A. W. Pugin, who, in his True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture, 1841, enunciated the following principles, which have formed the keynote for the various works and lectures on the subject since written and delivered :

I. There should be no features about a building which are not necessary for convenience, construction, or propriety. 11. All ornament should consist of enrichment of the essential construction of the building. III. The smallest detail should have a meaning or serve a purpose. IV. The construction itself should vary with the material employed. V. The design should be adapted to the material in which it is executed. VI. Pointed architecture does not conceal her construction, but beautifies it. VII. Plaster, when used for any other purpose than coating walls, is a mere modern deception. VIII. A flat roof is contrary to the spirit of the style. IX. A splayed form is necessary for piers, arches, basemoulds, strings, and copings. X. All mouldings of jambs are invariably sunk from the face of the work. XI. Large stones destroy proportion. XII. The jointing of masonry should not appear to be a regular feature. XUI. A joint in tracery should always be cut to the centre of the curve where it falls. XIV. The external and internal appearance of an edifice should be illustrative of, and in accordance with, the purpose for which it is destined. XV. It is a defect to make the two sides of a design correspondent if their purposes differ. XVI. The picturesque effect of the ancient buildings results from the ingenious methods by which the old builders overcame local and constructive difficulties. XVII. The elevation should be subservient to the plan. XVIII, Details are multiplied with the increased scale of the building.

These principles, with the addition of the subject mentioned in the next paragraph, seem to form the creed of the most advanced foreign archæologists, such as M. Viollet le Duc, for the consideration of the spirit of the style has been neglected in favour of an investigation of details by French and German writers on architecture.

“ Internal altitude,” writes Pugin in the same work (p. 66.), “ is a feature which would add greatly to the effect of many of our fine English churches, and I shall ever advocate its introduction, as it is a characteristic of foreign pointed architecture of which we can avail ourselves without violating the principles of our own peculiar style of English Christian architecture, from which I would not depart in this country on any account. I once stood on the very edge of a precipice in this respect, from which I was rescued by the advice and arguments of my respected and revered friend Dr. Rock, to whose learned researches and observations on Christian antiquities I am highly indebted, and to whom I feel it a bounden duty to make this public acknowledgment of the great benefit I have received from his advice. Captivated by the beauties of foreign pointed architecture, I was on the verge of departing from the severity of our English style, and engrafting portions of foreign detail and arrangement.

This I feel convinced would have been a failure; for although the great principles of Christian architecture were everywhere the same, each country had soine peculiar manner of developing them, and we should continue working in the same parallel lines, all contributing to the grand wbole of Catholic art, but by the very variety increasing its beauties and its interest."

This author claimed for pointed architecture the merit of its having been the only phase of art in which the “principles " had been carried out, and is supported, with some reservations, by Viollet le Duc. Our space is too limited to discuss that assertion ; the student who desires to investigate the subject must refer to Pugin's publication for his arguments, and must guard against being captivated by the one-sided illustrations given as "contrast.” For an assertion of the same general principles in regard of Classic and Modern architecture, the reader is referred to the chapter on BEAUTY IN ARCHITECTURE, in the present work

« PreviousContinue »