Tag Archives: medieval architecture

Mudejar

Georgiana Goddard King. Mudejar. Bryn Mawr: Bryn Mawr College, 1927.

New territory again this week: Medieval Spain. I must confess that I know little about this subject. Whenever I teach medieval survey, my discussion of medieval Spanish architecture has been limited. I only tend to lecture on the architecture of Spain as it relates to Compostela and the Pilgrimage Routes or to the Architecture of Islam with the Great Mosque of Cordoba as an example. After my last round of medieval survey, I resolved to revamp my course to include more diverse topics, to expand further into areas in which I am less knowledgeable, and to move away from the traditional canon. So I bring you Georgiana Goddard King’s Mudejar.

Georgiana Goddard King (1871-1939) both studied and taught at Bryn Mawr. Her work was in the English Department initially, but she would eventually establish the Department of Art History at the college.  (“King, Georgiana Goddard,” Dictionary of Art Historians). Harold E. Wethey writes of her passing in Parnassus, “At Bryn Mawr Miss King became a tradition and cult; and now she is a legend.” (Wethey, 33) He discusses at length the contributions she made to the field of art history. He notes:

Mudejar, which the author considered her best book, is an inclusive study of that peculiarly Spanish style, which she analyzed in relation to history and culture, as well as to earlier Spanish monuments and to Islamic sources. (Wethey, 34)

Georgiana Goddard King’s works, especially that of Mudejar, seem like a natural place to begin for those interested in pursuing medieval Spanish architecture, as she was an founding member of the field of study. In the preface she positions this work against an earlier definition of “Mudejar” that she herself established. She quotes her initial definition:

Mudejar is a dangerous word, easier to use than to account for. It implies brickwork often, and plaster, being applicable to those forms of art where the material is contemptible and perishing, and the work is more utterly priceless; it implies cusping always, and usually an interlace of forms, and horseshoe arches where practicable. The character is apparent in the colored tile and cut plaster and inlaid wood of King Peter’s building at Tordesillas and in Alcazar at Seville; in the modified flamboyant of King Henry’s building in the region of Segovia, even to the strange fleeting and restlessly-recurrent yet baffling designs of the vault in the cathedral there; in the brick towers and apses at Toledo and Calatayud. Whenever and wherever it was executed it bears the sign that a different and non-European imagination was at work, in the use of color, in the invention of the composition, and in the very shape and curves and angles. It is visibly unlike to other things, as art-nouveau is, and steel structure. It can hardly be defined more exactly; but it can be recognized. It gives always a special pleasure, of delicacy, intricacy, subtlety, incredible elusive refinement. Like other things that came out of the East, it is always a little intoxicating. (King, vii-viii)

This is where we must begin. King organizes her work into sections which address the History, Characteristic Features, Materials, Secular Buildings, Style, and lastly Other Arts. The work is also highly illustrative with both photographs and drawings.

“King, Georgiana Goddard.” Dictionary of Art Historians (website). http://www.dictionaryofarthistorians.org/kingg.htm, accessed August 7, 2014.

Harold E. Wethey. “An American Pioneer in Hispanic Studies: Georgiana Goddard King.” Parnassus 11.7 (1939): 33-35.

Medieval Landscapes

With an eye to National Landscape Architecture Month, I selected several works from the Architecture and Planning Library, which examine medieval landscapes and gardens.

Anne Jennings and Sylvia Landsberg provide introductions to medieval gardens and gardening. Their works are highly illustrated, relying on medieval manuscripts. Both authors also offer practical information or “How To’s” for the modern gardener interested in creating medieval inspired gardens of their own.

Anne Jennings. Medieval Gardens. London: English Heritage, 2004.

Sylvia Landsberg. The Medieval Garden. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

My interests, however, lie not in the medieval garden but rather within the intentional construction of a larger landscape- those that extend beyond the castle or cloister walls. I am concerned with the site of building as it reflects a conscious choice to create relationships– to the built environment such as a castle to abbey, to natural features such as mountains and rivers, and to places of significance whether it be historical, familial, or political boundaries. I am interested in view points and issues of approach, of what can be seen or not seen. Castle Rising, Norfolk is an excellent example of a castle’s relationship to the surrounding landscape, as examined by Robert Liddiard. Other interesting expressions of these relationships can be found at the Sutton Hoo Burial or Knowlton Church and Earthworks.  Knowlton consists of a twelfth-century Norman church built at the center of a henge. For those interested in these types issues, you might find these works insightful:

Tadhg O’Keeffe. Ireland’s Round Towers: Buildings, Rituals and Landscapes of the Early Irish Church. Tempus: Stroud, 2004.

Oliver H. Creighton. Designs Upon the Land: Elite Landscapes of the Middle Ages. The Boydell Press: Woodbridge, 2009.

Robert Liddiard. Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism, and Landscape, 1066-1500. Macclesfield: Windgather Press, 2005. (PCL)

Richard Bradley. An Archaeology of Natural Places. New York: Routledge, 2000. (PCL)

Franzosische Architektur-und Stadtebau-Ausstellung

Perret, August, José Imbert, Le Corbusier, and André Lurçat. Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949. Greiser: Rastatt, 1948

In 1948 and 1949, the French Bureau de l’Expansion Artistique Commandement en Chef Francais en Allemagne sponsored a traveling exhibition of French architecture in Germany. Produced through the participation of “Technique et Architecture” editor-in-chief André Bouxin, the complementary Französische Architektur- und Stadetbau-Ausstellung, 1948/1949 documents the full scope of the exhibition which examined French architecture from the medieval period forward focusing specifically on contemporary design and construction practices. The catalog includes a number of photographs of buildings, construction details, models and plans as well as essay contributions from well known architects including Le Corbusier and August Perret who celebrate the architectural practice and discuss the responsibilities of the profession in the contemporary era.

 

Library of Congress call number: NA 1041 G476 P477

Fragments d’Architecture

d’Espouy, Hector. Fragments d’Architecture du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance d’Après les Relevés and Restaurations des Anciens Pensionnaires de l’Académie de France à Rome. 2 vols. Paris: C. Schmid, 1897-c. 1925.

Collection: Cret

The French-language Fragments d’Architecture du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance utilizes work produced by novitiate architects studying at the French Academy in Rome to generate an historically fractured vision of the Italian peninsula during the Byzantine, medieval and renaissance periods. Developed under the direction of Hector d’Espouy, winner of the very first Prix de Rome, this volume follows his 1905 publication, Fragments d’Architecture Antique, and includes 180 plates that encompass almost a thousand years of architectural history.

Because students at the Academy generated intricately detailed drawings and plans of Italian monuments as part of their course of study, their work functions to document not only the monuments themselves, but also approaches to contemporary design pedagogy. In perusing these works, one will notice a considerable degree of consistency from plate to plate suggesting a very rigid and systematic drafting instruction.

This consistency is present in the watercolors as well.

As an historical document, the Fragment defy traditional readability. Ecclesiastical and secular buildings are included and organized neither geographically nor chronologically. Typology, style, technique and architectural element are similarly disregarded as organizing factors such that we find tomb and arcade studies intermingled with those rendering façades, campaniles, muqarnas, and mosaics. Nevertheless, these tomes function historically, canonizing certain Italian monuments while providing insight into the curriculum established to train architects.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1111 E7 1925 V.1, V.2

Architectural Studies in France

Petit, John Louis. Architectural Studies in France. New ed.; Revised Edition. London: G. Bell, 1890.

In this study of medieval French Architecture, John Petit utilizes a comparative framework to generate analyses of various buildings and building elements. The product of his travels in France, Petit celebrates his visitor status, acknowledging that the outsider who lacks cultural access notes significances that might otherwise be glossed or even neglected. It naturally follows that Petit opens with a discussion of French architecture as it relates to his experience and observation of English architecture. This comparative trope enables Petit to elegantly extend his conversation from the architectural majuscule to those bit parts which create it. Combined with engravings of significant buildings and architectural components, Petit’s Architectural Studies in France is an excellent resource for the medievalist and for those who delight in directed travel literature.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1042 P485 1890

The Architecture of Provence and the Riviera

MacGibbon, David. The Architecture of Provence and the Riviera. Edinburgh: D. Douglas, 1888.

Scottish Victorian architect David MacGibbon moved to the French Riviera in 1874 after a tragic accident left his daughter Rachel permanently disabled. In this restorative climate, MacGibbon discovered the rich architectural heritage of Provence and its environs, documenting these spaces in a number of sketches that would later form the core of The Architecture of Provence and the Riviera. Published 14 years after this initial excursion, The Architecture of Provence and the Riveria examines ancient and medieval architecture in southern France, an heretofore underrepresented region in the annals of cultural history. Here, MacGibbon chronicles the early history of the region and explores its late-antique and medieval social and political infrastructure before focusing the remainder of his work on its art and architecture. In these sections, MacGibbon combines chronological, stylistic and geographic categories to organize his work, including a number of explanatory sketches to better demonstrate the spaces and works of art about which he has concerned himself.

Library of Congress call number: NA 1049 P8 M3

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

 

 

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.