Friday Finds in Special Collections: Joseph Nash

Nash, Joseph. The Mansions of England in the Olden Time.  Edited by Charles Holme with an Introduction by C. Harrison Townsend. 4 vols. 1838-1849. New Edition, London: Offices of The Studio, 1906.

Latham, Charles. In English Homes: The Internal Character, Furniture, & Adornments of Some of the Most Notable House of England Historically Depicted from Photographs Specially Taken by Charles Latham. 3rd ed. 3 vols. New York: Charles Scribner, 1909-[191-?].

The connection I discovered between these two finds was actually quite accidental. I will admit I was attracted to the title of Joseph Nash’s book, specifically In The Olden Time.  I checked the publication year and thought I would look for books on similar topics from roughly the same date both to compare them and to think about the influence these types of work might have had on practicing architects. I thus selected Charles Latham’s book. I was not familiar with either author or work.

Exploring Nash’s book a little more carefully, I discovered the Special Collections’s copy was actually a later edition of the work published more than 50 years prior.  I was a bit disappointed that the books were not in fact contemporary. I also discovered that The Mansions according to both the introduction in the new edition and Peter Mandler’s biography of Joseph Nash had been quite influential. Mandler writes:

The Mansions’ combination of architectural and antiquarian accuracy with contemporary values was devastatingly effective. Nash’s plates were immediately engraved for mass circulation….They served as a source book for architects but also as advertising placards for tourist sites around the country that became more accessible as the railway network developed. (Mandler, “Nash Joseph (1809-1878)”)

In his introduction, Charles Latham recognizes the importance of Nash’s work and acknowledge’s that his own book is in direct response to his predecessor.  He writes:

It was thus that Nash’s “Mansions of England in the Olden Time” was enthusiastically received, and is still prized as a pictorial interpretation of the home life of old Englishmen. There is infinite pleasure in looking again and again at its representations, and we pardon their faults and exaggerations for the sake of the artist’s enthusiasm, which has given them undeniable fascination. In the years that have passed many things have become possible which then were not dreamt of. Not only is there riper and better knowledge, but photography, though much abused, has come as the handmaid of those who understand best what are the beauties and the splendors of old English domestic interiors. The time had, therefore, arrived for the publication of this work, which the writer ventures to think presents the subject in a manner never before approached, and perhaps unapproachable, because the opportunities have been of the best and fullest, and no  labour of love, no effort of heart or hand, has been spared to bring the interiors of the houses of our sires verily before the eyes of their descendants. (Latham, vol. 1,  x)

While both Nash and Latham present many of the same houses, they do so quite differently. According to Charles Holme, the editor of the new edition of The Mansions, there are two significant differences between the original edition and the new. The first is that all the plates have been collected into a single volume. The second change is that the editor has reordered the plates. He writes, “In the original edition,…the plates were distributed in a haphazard fashion throughout the work. The Editor believes that the present arrangement will be found to be of more practical utility to the reader.”   Holmes arranged Nash’s drawings so that those representing the same building were placed together. (Prefatory Note)

While C. Harrison Townsend does provide a brief introduction about Nash’s style & approach and  the development of Tudor domestic architecture, Nash’s plates are not accompanied with any descriptions. Mandler explains Nash’s approach to the houses: “He confined himself strictly to reproducing architectural details, exterior and interior, but enlivened them romantically with scenes of Tudor domestic life…” (Mandler, “Nash, Joseph (1809-1878).”)

In Latham’s book, however, the reader is presented with black and white photographs that document the architecture and furniture of the houses. The photographs seem almost scientific compared to Nash’s imagined realities of life in a Tudor house. Latham’s photographs, however, do not stand alone. Latham writes, “Thus, in these many pictures, accompanied by historical descriptions, do we find a visible memorial of the life and character of English Society.” (Latham, xxxii) At times, Latham’s writing seems in stark contrast to the photographs. For example, he writes of Haddon Hall:

What memories of old-time glories, ambitions, and occupations, of passions long stilled, and yet of emotions that are ours, are evoked as we walk in the gold shade of the sycamores and limes, or linger on the terrace under the low-hanging boughs of the yews, or traverse that wondrous range of buildings, and sojourn in this ancient chambers, out of whose windows looked lovingly into their garden the men and women of long ago! There may be places more magnificent, but the transcendental delight of the home of the Vernons lies in its happy union of history and poetry with rare beauty of architecture, richness of internal adornment, and the external charms of an old garden, and a beautiful neighbouring land. Where else can we receive such impressions of ancient greatness touched with the witchery of bygone romance? (Latham, vol. 1, 37)

I am curious, readers, if you prefer one representation to the other and why.

Mandler, Peter. “Nash, Joseph (1809-1878).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2007. Accessed March 27, 2015. Joseph Nash (1809-18780: doi: 10.1093/ref:odnb/19787.

Friday Finds in Special Collections: House and Home

Gray, Greta. House and Home: A Manual and Text-Book of Practical House Planning. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1923.

As her listed qualifications, Greta Gray graduated both from MIT in architecture and from Teachers College at Columbia University in Household Arts. For a more extensive biography and discussion of her accomplishments, please see UCLA’s In Memoriam, Greta Gray.


When I initially selected Ms. Gray’s book, the cover led me to believe that it was a house keeping or home owner’s manual; however, her work seems more complex than I expected. She encourages engagement, reflection, and perhaps social reform. She writes:

The house is all-important in moulding our lives and its selection demands careful study. We should have house standards, know what is essential, and what we can do without. We have food standards, we have some attempts at standardized dress for women as well as for men, and we should formulate certain minimum standards of housing and have an understanding of the best way in which money beyond the amount required to reach the standard may be spent on the house to add to the pleasure and satisfaction of those who live within it. (pg. 2)

To achieve this end, she includes some unexpected chapters- Town Planning, The Farm HouseOwning versus Renting, and Multiple Houses and the Housing Problem. She also includes two chapters on the history of architecture from which she develops a series of Architectural Rules (pg. 185-191). The chapter on Modern Architecture concludes with a call for a new architectural style to reflect the American spirit (pg. 191-194). Most of the chapters are followed by a set of action points or questions; therefore, even the more traditional chapters like The Location may spark reflection not only on one’s home but also on the larger built environment and related social issues. Finally, she includes a dictionary of architectural terms.

Friday Finds: Dictionaries

Today’s Friday Finds were inspired by An Illustrated Handbook of Art History by Frank J. Roos, Jr, originally part of Martin S. Kermacy’s library.  The binding of the book attracted my attention. It was bound with a large spiral wire like a school notebook, so there was no indication on the spine as to what the book might be.

When I opened it, I was surprised to discover page after page of black and white images with only captions as text.  The images were easily recognizable, reflecting the material common to the introductory survey course. And I thought: Oh, ARTstor before ARTstor. Roos writes of his intention: The aim of this Handbook is to put in the hands of students useful illustrations of as many works of art, together with reference charts, as can be encompassed in the covers of a book selling for a comparatively low price. (i) He continues then to discuss the selection process: The choice of men and examples constituting the Modern section was particularly difficult. Although there are as many men of great importance left out as included, the choice of names to be considered was here guided by the necessity of using men typical of certain trends and by the availability of material. (i) The use of the word, men, struck me particularly. The work was published in 1937 – I was not sure if men was intended as the catch all term (though could artist not be used as effectively?) or if women had not been included in the narrative at all (a quick look told me that Cassatt and O’Keeffe were).

All of that led me to wonder about representation, selection, the communication of ideas, and well, dictionaries. What were architectural dictionaries like before The Pevsner (I recently made the decision to part with my second copy)? I think we could usefully reflect on the dictionaries as historical artifacts that speak to cultural constructs, practice, audiences, and use.

Parker, John Henry. A Glossary of Terms Used in Grecian, Roman, Italian, and Gothic Architecture. Exemplified by One Hundred and Fifty Wood-Cuts. London: Charles Tilt, 1836.

Nicholson, Peter. Nicholson’s Dictionary of the Science and Practice of Architecture, Building, Carpentry, etc., etc., etc., from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time. Edited by Edward Lomax and Thomas Gunyon.  London: The London Print. and Pub. Co., [1854].

The Architectural Publication Society. The Dictionary of Architecture. London: Thomas Richards, 1887.

Sample Page, The Dictionary of Architecture

A Dictionary of the Leading Technical and Trade Terms of Architectural Design and Building Construction. By the Editor of The Technical Journal. London: Ward, Lock & Co., 1888.

New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library: Guide Books

I was initially struck by the back cover summaries for two recent books- one on Venice and the other on the Bauhaus- which used similar language to describe the intentions of the work and authors. Each book is referred to as a guide, which speaks of exploration to me. Moreover, both works use “elements” to explore change over time.

Foscari, Giulia. Elements of Venice. Foreword by Rem Koolhaas. Zürich, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, 2014.

Giulia Foscari applies the principles of Rem Koolhaas’s Elements to the city of Venice. She writes:

But the focus of this book is to look at individual architectonic elements, not buildings, searching for those clues that allow us to retrace, beyond formal consideration, the ideological, cultural, and political background of the historical context that informed their definition.

Instead of following a Darwinian approach, revealing the linear evolution of the architectural “species”, I have concentrated on studying the corpus architecture. By performing an autopsy, I have analyzed the organs of Venice, its architectonic elements, one by one. (pg. 28)

The book is arranged according to the elements of façade, stair, corridor, floor, ramp, roof, ceiling, door, fireplace, window, balcony, and wall. These elements are then examined through various lenses: function, architects, case studies, materials, thematic, form/design, and social/political/religious.


Irrgang, Christin and Ingolf Kern. The Bauhaus Building in Dessau. Translated by Rebecca Philips Williams. Photo Essay by Nikolaus Brade. Leipzig, Germany: Spector Books, 2014.

While Christin Irrgang and Ingolf Kern examine the Bauhaus in terms of elements, their exploration is not quite to the scale of Foscari. They identify their elements as: workshop wing, festive area, studio building, bridge, north wing, staircases, and color design, furniture, and fittings. The chapter on elements is, moreover, situated within the linear narrative of the school, both as a physical space and institution. Thus, the authors discuss the foundation, the reception, the legacy of the school, the history of use, and the physical changes the building has undergone, including the recent renovation. The work concludes with Nikolaus Brade’s color photo essay of the renovated building, which complements the historical photographs throughout the work. 


Friday Finds in Special Collections : J. M. Mauch

Mauch, J. M. The Architectural Orders of the Greeks and Romans. New York: Architectural Book Publishing Co., Inc., [1927].

Mauch, J. M. The Greek and Roman Orders [by] J.M. Mauch. Architectural Edition with Description of Each Plate Translated into English by E.R.A. Litzau and edited by W. B. Olmsted. Washington, D.C.: The Reprint Co., Inc., 1910.

These two works were printed in the States by two different publishers and represent two interpretations of Johann Mauch’s Die Architektonischen Ordnungen der Griechen under Römer, which I believe was originally published in 1845 but had at least two other editions in 1875 and 1896. The 1910 version appears to be a facsimile of the 1845 plates and may retain the original order. It also includes a translation of the text associated with each plate. Having removed all explanatory text, the 1927 version is only a collection of 100 loose plates. There are further differences between the two editions. The 1927 version is missing two plates, which were present in the 1910 publication. The frontispiece was used to decorate the cover, while “Plate 100: A View in the Tripod Street at Athens” was not included at all. The editors substituted plans and drawings of buildings on the Acropolis, which were included in the 1875 edition.

I wanted to share these two works not to discuss variations of editions but rather because each copy was once part of an architect’s library. The 1910 and 1927 editions at the Architecture and Planning Library were owned by Atlee B. Ayers and Flint & Broad, respectively. The 1910 edition has both the stamps for Atlee B. Ayers and Atlee B. and Robert M. Ayers on the end papers. Their book is well worn and shows signs of use- finger smudges, impressions of paper clips, taped pages, and scrap paper, one with a small drawing of a capital profile. The 1927 edition also bears the stamp of  Flint & Broad on its end papers as does the back of each individual plate. This copy as well shows signs of use- finger smudges, marks of a wayward pen or pencil, and more extensive wear on some of the plates. These two books might be useful in providing insight about practice and inspiration at the two firms. It is might also be useful to think about what books were present in firm libraries during a any one period.

New Books at the Architecture and Planning Library: Elements, Skyscrapers, and Museum Design

Koolhaas, Rem. Elements. [Venice]: Marsilio, [2014].

Elements is a 15 volume collection produced with the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Each volume is dedicated to a specific element of architecture: Floor, Wall, Ceiling, Roof, Door, Window, Façade, Balcony, Corridor, Fireplace, Toilet, Stair, Escalator, Elevator, and Ramp. Keller Easterling in the first volume, Floor, explains the intention behind the studio’s study:

A contemplation of architectural elements does not assemble an encyclopedia or reinforce a canon. It does the opposite. A prolonged look at each element presents puzzles about cultural habituation- something like architectural why-stories that defamiliarize, even upset, conventions. It may also expose a fatal error when a set of limited cultural habits have stiffened around the element, eliminating a whole range of techniques for making space. (Keller Easterling, Floor, 105)


Morshed, Adnan. Impossible Heights: Skyscrapers, Flight, and the Master Builder. Minneapolis, MN: The University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Adnan Morshed examines the work of Hugh Ferris, Richard Buckminster Fuller, and Norman Bel Geddes during the 1920s-1930s in conjunction with the themes of the master builder, the gaze, and the “aesthetics of ascension”. Adnan writes:

“…an overarching theme of aerial vision signaled the advent of a modern spectator. In significant ways, the modern spectator’s perches, the airplane cockpit and the skyscraper observatory, become suitable pulpits for new kinds of urban analysis and reform….This panoptic figure…offered reform-minded American designers the illusion of a messianic character, a master builder of sorts, able to create a brighter tomorrow….” (pg. 5)


Hawley, Anne, Robert Campbell, and Alexander Wood. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Daring by Design. Foreword by Barabar Hostetter. New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2014.

Anne Hawley et al examine the challenges of not only honoring the intentions of the museum’s founder, Isabella Stewart Gardner, but also the grafting of the new–architecture/spaces, functions, ideas– to the old. Hawley explains the initial challenge:

Isabella Stewart Gardner’s famed will had been honored. It required that her arrangement of the collections remain exactly as she left them. But the spirit the museum had in her lifetime was gone. The museum felt like a tomblike repository, not a lively center of art and culture able to entice the public. (Hawley, 57)

The work is arranged in a series of essays that discuss the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner and the early history of the museum, the process of design through the construction of the Renzo Piano wing, a photographic essay of the addition, and finally an essay by Robert Campbell entitled, “New Meets Old at the Gardner: An Architectural Appreciation.”

Robert Campbell writes of the museum:

The Gardner’s parts, old and new, are like a good marriage. They are a partnership of two fully realized, independent individuals that admire and respect each other. At the glass-cald passageway that connects them, the Link, they seem to reach out to join hands, while at the same time carefully, prudently, maintaining a certain distance. (Campbell, 133).