« PrejšnjaNaprej »
West or Sir Joshua Reynolds.* The spandrils of the choir arches of Cologne have furnished as fair a field for the frescoes of Deger as the basilicas of Bramante could afford to the painters of Italy. But it is useless to specify its capabilities if the whole system of modern Gothic design is condemned, and perhaps rightly condemned, already. Mr. Fergusson will have no copying whether Gothic or classical:
'For the philosophical student of art it is of the least possible consequence which may now be most successful in encroaching on the domains of its antagonist. He knows that both are wrong, and that neither can, consequently, advance the cause of true art. His one hope lies in the knowledge that there is a tertium quid, a style which, for want of a better name, is sometimes called the Italian, but should be called the common-sense style. This never having attained the completeness which debars all further progress, as was the case in the purely classical or in the perfected Gothic styles, not only admits of, but insists on, progress. It courts borrowing principles and forms from either. It can use either pillars or pinnacles, as may be required. It admits of towers and spires, or domes. It can either indulge in plain walls, or pierce them with innumerable windows. It knows no guide but common sense; it owns no master but true taste. It may hardly be possible, however, because it requires the exercise of these qualities; and more than this, it demands thought, where copying has hitherto sufficed; and it courts originality, which the present system repudiates. Its greatest merit is that it admits of that progress, by which alone man has hitherto accomplished anything great or good either in literature, in science, or in art.' (P. 529.)
There is an apparent clearness and a very real obscurity about this singular passage. What is this Italian or commonsense style? If it means nothing more than the employment of certain constructive forms, it scarcely deserves the name of a style at all. If it implies the use of Italian decorative features, it becomes again a mere question of adaptation. We cannot escape from the magic circle; and, although it is quite possible that a new style may be developed from the use of Italian forms, it is not less possible that the same result may be attained by employing an ornamentation which is not Italian. If, however, we may judge from any existing works, we should be loth to yield to this Italian style the credit of all those powers which Mr. Fergusson claims for it. For pinnacles it has given
The designs of the Munich glass can scarcely be condemned on the score of conventional drawing. But few who have compared the windows in the southern aisle of the nave of Cologne Cathedral with those of the choir will defend the theory which makes the picture independent of the mullions and tracery of the window.
us obelisks, or forms still more nondescript; for towers it has piled one triumphal arch on another; for spires, it presents a series of pilastered octagons with bulbous buttresses. It may have windows; but these are mere apertures. Of tracery, so long as the style remains Italian at all, it seems to be utterly incapable. Vast semicircles yawn under the vault of the • Invalides' Church at Paris ; and in place of the exquisite rose windows of Amiens or Westminster, a huge eye, hollow as the socket of the blinded Polyphemus, stares out from the front of the Certosa at Pavia (p. 51.). It may raise domes; but these are in idea Byzantine; and the octagon of Ely approaches nearer to this idea than any Renaissance example. In short, unless we confine ourselves to absolutely naked construction, we must, whether with one form or another, commence with adaptation; and we thus reach the simple conclusion that Mr. Fergusson prefers the language of Greece and Italy to that of England.
Still, to the adaptation of what are called Gothic forms, there remains an objection more serious than any which Mr. Fergusson has specified. From the first dawn of Roman architecture down to the time when Teutonic art yielded to the inroads of the Renaissance, every stage is a link in a series of continuous and inseparable developements. To adopt any one stage as our starting-point is to make an arbitrary selection without any regard to its philosophical connexion with all that went before or followed it. When the builders of the early basilicas cast aside the entablature, it was an honest return to the architecture of Rome; and a genuine arched construction inevitably suggested the relation of the arcades to the parts above them. The perception of this relation led as inevitably to the employment of the pointed arch. Within each bay the windows, which had been mere openings let into the wall without system, fell into groups, whose tracery followed precisely
* Nothing can more clearly show that Mr. Fergusson has not thrown himself as thoroughly into the spirit of Gothic as of other architecture, than the assertion that, “in so far as the system of
ornamentation is concerned, the Saracenic style is identical with the • Gothic. Both use pointed arches, clustered piers, vaulted roofs, and 'they claim other features in common.' (P. 416.) It would be true to say that they exhibit some likeness in details of ornament; but the Saracenic system of mere surface decoration is utterly alien to the subordination of the Gothic; nor is it too much to say that if the Romanesque styles had started with the decorative system of Saracenic art, Gothic architecture could never have come into existence.
the same laws which regulated every other part of the design. The transition from a subordination of distinct parts to a fusion in which all parts were merged, may be traced as clearly in the one as in the other. And when the continuous styles succeeded to the geometrical, the principle which had produced all these developements was completely exhausted, and the victory of any invading style assured. Nor can the significance of this fact on the future history of the art be well overrated. If we assume with Mr. Scott, that we may build in the style of the Ste. Chapelle at Paris, and if we are not to go on 80 copying and building for ever, in what is our work to issue? Is any new application of its principles practicable, or even conceivable? If we cannot see our way to an affirmative answer, it
be no reason for resorting to the common-sense Italian style; but it is a grave reason for not making arbitrary selections from a series which is philosophically complete, and whose principles have been thoroughly worked out.
Nor does this remark apply with less force to the Italian style, unless it be taken to mean nothing more than the use of the pier and arch without reference to Greek or Roman details. This, however, is to revert to mere naked construction*; and possibly under no other conditions can the rise of a genuine style be looked for. If thus, or in any other way, a really living architecture should spring up, it must be one which will be applicable to all buildings whatsoever. It will be as suitable for the synagogues of Jews as for the churches of Christians, for commercial storehouses as for royal palaces. There will no longer be any question of the appropriateness of different styles for different purposes. There will be no need to discuss whether a church should be Gothic, or a club-bouse classical. It will suit every want, ecclesiastical or secular, of our age, not less than the style which we call Gothic met the needs of our forefathers. In a greater degree it could not do so; and much of the perplexity and absurdity of our present practice arises from our failing to see how marvellously flexible that arcbitecture was. Because Englishmen in the fifteenth century built houses with narrow mullioned windows, the same thing is done now, and the cry is raised that Gothic is inconvenient for
• Mr. Fergusson has, indeed, reduced the question within a very narrow compass. If all copying of ornamental forms is utterly condemned, we can but do one of two things. We may use the column with the round arch, or the column with the pointed arch. In the one case we take up the Romanesque, in the other we adopt the Gothic principle; and still more it may be urged that the former, if taken as the starting point, must lead on to the latter.
domestic buildings. The truth is, they had what they wished to have. If there had been need of wider openings, they would have pierced them as wide as any that are now filled with plate glass. The idea is but of recent growth that the purpose of a window is not merely to let in light, but to give as wide a view as possible of the landscape without. For those who adopt this idea, a genuine architecture will provide what is wanted as readily with Gothic as with Greek or Renaissance forms.
We can do no more than touch on this point of practical interest, which involves the whole question of domestic architecture; nor can we enter on the ethnological discussions with which Mr. Fergusson brings his work to a close. There is the less need to do so, because we do not profess to have any deeper knowledge of Pelasgians and Turanians than Mr. Grote or Sir Cornewall Lewis. Here, as in his former work, Mr. Fergusson dogmatises, where they are silent, and he has seen reason to attribute to the primitive Aryans a belief the very reverse of that which seems to be indicated in their mythology. These, however, are matters of less moment than the practical questions with which the future progress of architecture is bound up. If in treating these questions Mr. Fergusson has not been altogether consistent or impartial, he has examined them with a fullness and a force which commands our gratitude. If we have differed from him on some points, we have agreed with him on more; and we gladly express our hope and our belief that his labour will not be in vain.
ART. IV.-1. Histoire de la Révolution Française. Par M.
Louis BLANC. 12 vols. Paris : 1847-62. 2. Histoire de la Terreur, 1792-4, d'après des documens authen
tiques et inédits. Par M. MORTIMER-TERNAUX. 2 vols.
Paris : 1862. BY Y the publication of the twelfth and concluding volume of
his · Histoire de la Révolution Française' (the first of which appeared in 1847), M. Louis Blanc has now completed his chosen labour of many years. Never, perhaps, has a great literary undertaking been conceived, proceeded with, and executed, under circumstances so various and so singular. When first he addressed himself to the subject, he was a young and almost unknown literary man, an unit among the many thousand ardent spirits of Paris who were urging on their own destiny and that of the State towards the great abyss which, like Bossuet's precipice, lay before them, without possibility of return. Guizot was then Prime Minister of France; Louis Philippe was apparently at the height of his power; the question of farther progress towards democracy seemed, for the moment, adjourned; or rather, a stationary period had intervened between the perpetual oscillations of Aux and reflux in that agitated society. But when his first two volumes appeared, the air was already dark with the signs of an approaching catastrophe. Then came the crash, and the unknown author was himself elevated, by one of the strangest of Fortune's sports, into the position of an arbiter of the fortunes of that great community whose former revolutionary struggles he was engaged in depicting. How the man of a 'rare mais âpre fanatisme,' as Lamartine designates him, comported himself in that hour of giddy elevation, future historians will have to say, for the tale of 1848 has not yet been told. Driven into exile, he resumed his pen after a few years; the next volumes appeared in 1852, under the shadow of nascent Imperialism, the last in 1862, after ten years of that system have pruned down to the very root the luxuriance of liberal sentiment, and left the memories of Republicanism and of Parliamentary government alike to the keeping of an elderly generation. These ten years the author has spent in exile. And there is something both of dignity and of good sense in the manner in which that bitter trial has been borne, which commends him to the sympathy of the reader. Faithful to his principles---erroneous as most deem them, fanatical as most deem his addiction to them he has never appeared to despair of their success, and of the regeneration of France through their means. But he has held them usually in calm reserve; never gone out of his way to obtrude them, or himself in conjunction with them, on public notice; never joined, so far as we are aware, in the schemes of those successive conspirators who have at times rendered the maintenance of our ancient right of political asylum a matter of no small difficulty; never vented his passions in ignoble abuse of hostile power from a safe distance. Among us he has lived as one of ourselves, cherishing political principles in utter discordance with those which prevail with the majority here— not disguising, but not obtruding them; never endeavouring to use for his own personal purposes the popularity which those principles might have earned him with a zealous minority; never compromising his own dignity, either by noisy complaint or boastings, but quietly defending his conduct and