Tag Archives: architectural history

The Vernacular and Academic Nostalgia

Farm Houses, Manor Houses, Minor Chateaux and Small Churches: From the Eleventh to the Sixteenth Centuries, in Normandy, Brittany and other parts of France. New York: The Architectural Book Publishing Company, P. Wenzel and M. Krakow, 1917.

Another selection from the Paul Philippe Cret collection, Farm Houses, Manor Houses, Minor Chateaux and Small Churches is a collection of nearly 100 pages of images documenting vernacular architecture throughout Normandy, Brittany and other parts of France. While there is no index or table of contents, the book’s preface provides some unique insight into the function of this assembly. Written by AIA Fellow Ralph Adams Cram, we once again hear from a scholar seeking to return to a simpler moment, a time when architecture possessed “human scale.” Whether this response reflects the broader attitude toward the social and cultural activities that precipitated the First World War, or a more individual perspective, Cram suggests that the images compiled in the pages of this book are rooted in nostalgia, a time gone by and yet a moment his contemporaries should return to.

Collection: Cret
Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 F3

A little wonder from the library of O’Neil Ford

Last week, Joe Sosa, gift processor at the Architecture & Planning Library, came to my office to share a wonderful find.  Joe has been processing books from the library of O’Neil Ford, which came to us as part of his collection donated to the Alexander Architectural Archive.  He starts by searching our catalog for existing copies in our collections so in many cases he is the first one to look closely at donations.  He regularly sees interesting material and once in a while he comes across a jewel like this:

Chinese and Gothic architecture properly ornamented : being twenty new plans and elevations on twelve copper plates containing a great variety of magnificent buildings accurately described ; as also, several of a smaller kind elegantly design’d, with all necessary offices, of great strenght, early construction, and graceful appearance. The whole carefully calculated by the great squares; with instructions to workmen, etc. in several pages of letter-press. intended as an improvement of what has been published of that sort.

This delightful book came in what can be described as a regular preservation nightmare: a homemade cardboard binder (very likely acidic) with a faded photocopy taped on.

Chinese and Gothic Archtecture Properly Ornamented

Inside, we found a pocket for the circulation card.

Pocket for library card

Chinese and Gothic architecture properly ornamented was written in 1752 by William Halfpenny and his son John. William Halfpenny was an English architect, carpenter and author of early pattern books as well as other manuals on construction such as The Art of Sound Building, Demonstrated in Geometrical Problems.

Title page

These are page 6 and 7: “Plate II – The Ground and Chamber Plan, with the Elevation (drawn to double their Scale) for a Design to a House 67 Feet in Front.” As all designs in this book, it includes dimensions for each room ans well as some instructions and estimate of the cost, in this case, 2475£.

Plate II

This book is a great example of an early pattern book as well as 18th Century Chinoiserie.  Gothic? Well, in my opinion, this looks more Palladian influenced but it has made me curious as to why Halfpenny would refer to these designs as Gothic. That is one of the details that makes this book peculiar and fascinating.

Visual Memory

Townsend, Charles Harrison, T. S. Boys, William Callow, J. Coney, S. Prout, David Roberts, and C. Wild. Beautiful Buildings in France & Belgium: Including Many which have been Destroyed during the War. London: T. F. Unwin, 1916.

This unique document reconstitutes historical renderings and paintings of gothic architecture in France and Belgium. Elegiac in tone, Beautiful Buildings of France & Belgium is an exercise in preservation, rehabilitating the obscured architectural object whose historical state was, in many cases, disrupted by the Great War. This type of visual doubling provides an early example of how what we see constructs social memory and nostalgia, and demonstrates the importance of certain types of documents in maintaining or proliferating a specific memory. Here, highly romanticized prose organized by location (Amiens, Bruges, Ghent) accompany each rendering to both celebrate and mourn these sites of tremendous cultural activity and the abundance of meaning that they represent.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 T6

Detour au Moyen Âge

Mortet, Victor. Recueil de Textes Relatifs à l’Histoire de l’Architecture et à la Condition des Architectes en France au Moyen Âge, XIe-XIIe siècles. Paris: A. Picard, 1911.

Sorbonne Archivist Victor Mortet assembled 153 primary sources concerning the history of Gothic architecture in France in Recueil de Textes Relatifs à l’Histoire de l’Architecture. Originally composed in Latin, the texts incorporated into this collection were generally composed by members of the clergy and describe the construction of churches and other religious architecture between the 10th and 12th centuries. Each text includes a brief introduction in French and copious footnotes that contextualize these sources historically while cross-referencing contemporary scholarship. Accompanied by an extensive index and glossary, this is an invaluable resource to the medieval French scholar.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1043 M6

 

 

A History of French Architecture 1494 to 1661

Blomfield, Reginald. A History of French Architecture 1494 to 1661: From the Reign of Charles VIII till the Death of Mazarin. 2 vols. London: G. Bell, 1911.

In 1911, architect and scholar Sir Reginald Blomfield penned A History of French Architecture 1494 to 1661, an authoritative two-volume work on the history of French architecture. Part of the Architecture & Planning Library’s Paul Philippe Cret collection, A History of French Architecture constructs a linear history of French architecture encompassing the scope of what might be termed a long 16th century. In this English-language text, Blomfield endeavors to locate a continuous trajectory between the beginnings of Italian renaissance influence in French architecture and the inception of a neo-classical design expression during the era of Louis XIV. Blomfield’s is an essential reference for the renaissance historian, functioning at once as an erudite piece of scholarship and a foundational historiographical text.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1044 B6

 

 


Special Collections Focus: French Architecture


Visit the Architecture & Planning Library special collection located in Battle Hall

As part of our ongoing effort to expose the rich and diverse materials held in the Architecture & Planning Library special collections, we will be highlighting a number of collection items that explore various historical and historigraphical topics related to the study of French architecture during the summer and fall 2011 sessions. The volumes featured in this series were reviewed by architectural history and theory graduate student Kristen Decker-Ali as part of a volunteer project completed during the summer 2010. Decker-Ali, whose own work focuses on Philibert de l’Orme’s Château d’Anet for Diane de Poitiers, reviewed dozens of volumes documenting 33 items of specific interest. These items belong to 26 separate titles, explore the history of urban and provincial architecture in France from the medieval period through the early 19th century and include volumes published as early as 1830. Check out Battle Hall Highlights each week, as we take a look at these titles.

Including over 20,000 volumes, the Architecture & Planning Library special collections comprise almost 1/5th of the library’s holdings and function as an invaluable resource for scholars in the disciplines of architecture, art and architectural history, landscape architecture, community and regional planning, building technology and construction science. Special strengths include central and eastern European architecture, especially the Vienna Secession Movement, late nineteenth and early twentieth century British and French architecture books, as well as titles from the libraries of architects whose work is represented in the Alexander Architectural Archive. Of special note are the libraries of architect Paul Philippe Cret, architectural historian Colin Rowe, and architect and educator Charles W. Moore.