Victorian Perceptions of Renaissance Architecture
In the mid-1880s The Builder, an influential British architectural journal, published an article characterizing Renaissance architecture as a corrupt bastardization of the classical architecture of Greece and Rome. By the turn of the century, however, the same journal praised the Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi as the ’Christopher Columbus of modern architecture.’ Victorian Perceptions of Renaissance Architecture, 1850-1914 examines these conflicting characterizations and reveals how the writing of architectural history was intimately tied to the rise of the professional architect and the formalization of architectural education in late nineteenth-century Britain. Drawing on a broad range of evidence, including literary texts, professional journals, university curricula, and census records, Victorian Perceptions reframes works by seminal authors such as John Ruskin, Walter Pater, John Addington Symonds, and Geoffrey Scott alongside those by architect-authors such as William J. Anderson and Reginald Blomfield within contemporary architectural debates. Relevant for architectural historians, as well as literary scholars and those in Victorian studies, Victorian Perceptions reassesses the history of Renaissance architecture within the formation of a modern, British architectural profession.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; The sins of the Renaissance: John Ruskin and the rise of the professional architect; Embracing decadence: Walter Pater’s and John Addington Symonds’s Renaissance; ‘It is time to be rational’: William J. Anderson’s The Architecture of the Renaissance in Italy; The Renaissance as an English style: J. Alfred Gotch, Reginald Blomfield, and the English Renaissance; Experiencing the Renaissance: Geoffrey Scott’s The Architecture of Humanism; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
Katherine Wheeler is Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Miami, USA.
'In Katherine Wheeler's account of how Renaissance architecture was taken up in both theory and practice by the Victorians, the tightly interlaced relationship between transformations in architectural training, ideology, and identity and the problem of style comes to the fore with fresh clarity and concentrated focus.' The Victorian
'[Her] purpose she has achieved admirably, and in more depth than I have been able to indicate in this short review. It is remarkable, really, and yet another tribute to the power of Ruskin's rhetoric, that Renaissance architecture should have needed a new spokesperson who could explain this development thoroughly and lucidly. But it did, and it has found one here.' Victorian Web
'Renaissance heroes and masterpieces are often accepted wholesale as if their study and celebration has nothing to do with the period in which they are revered. Because of this, books that deal with the historiography of the Renaissance are always welcome additions to the field. Katherine Wheeler's Victorian Perceptions of Renaissance Architecture is no exception.' Journal of Art Historiography