senses - pictures, figures, sculptural mouldings, colours, historicized representations - in order to dedicate them to the Holy Name. It is incorrect to suggest that the plans and achievements at the end of the eighteenth century were the reflection of a utilitarian conception of religion, a kind of generalized Josephinism in which the state classified religion as one of its 'public services'. This would be to see religious indifference in what, if studied carefully, was nothing other than a passion for abstraction. Boullee's plan for the interior of a revolutionary metropole can remind us of the power of the pathos that stimulates the religious imagination: at the top of a three-flight staircase that emerges from the end of a dark nave, at the transept crossing, lit suddenly by rays falling from a gigantic dome, and in front of the opening to a shadowy apse marked by a triumphal arch, rises an altar, placed on a pedestal of extraordinary size. On this Roman-style altar-table, a sacrificateur celebrates the cult of the Supreme Being, surrounded by a cloud of incense. With the priest silhouetted against the light and the crowd bowed along the length of the nave steps, the atmosphere is imposing. One is surely not far from the 'mysteries of Isis' and The Magic Flute, or from masonic costume and revolutionary ceremonies. Yet this magnificent intellectual theatricality, lying as it does somewhere between reason and pathos, is not unworthy of taking its place in a chapter on Bernini, Borromini, and Guarini.
In a similar manner, the Neo-Gothic Renaissance, in its retrospective regard towards the Middle Ages, would bring to the sanctuary the humanity of Jesus the evangelist, Jesus the romantic harbinger of a social discourse, along with the golden legends of medieval saints, polychromy, penumbra, and a sense of the pittoresque in architectural forms. Something of the Enlightenment's religion - or rather of the biblical, abstract, and rigorist conception of that religion - would remain in the nineteenth century, but the rapid renewal of architectural forms after 1830 would express without words the exigencies of a new religious sensibility. (Translation by Jane Yeoman)
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