Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86) was a Harvard graduate trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His early career was notable for buildings whose plans were not dictated by the demands of an Anglican liturgy: a Baptist Church in Boston (Brattle Square Church, 1871-2) and Unity Church (Unitarian, 1866) and North Congregational Church (1872-3) both at Springfield, Massachussetts. This last structure, an essay in the English Gothic style with neither a chancel nor transepts, has a fine spire. Richardson's reputation as an architectural innovator was established by the construction of the spacious, pyramidically massed Trinity Church, Boston (1874-7). The church, which cost some $800,000, is built of pink granite ashlar trimmed with brownstone and is crowned by an impressive lantern tower which rises over the crossing. Its sumptuous interior is marked by a large semi-circular apse and stained glass windows designed by William Morris, Burne-Jones, Clayton and Bell, and the American artist John La Farge. La Farge also provided the painted decorative scheme for the walls and the handsome double-curved timber roofs.

In France the Gothic Revival was as rooted in precedent, and as fired by Romanticism, as it was in England. It also took on a nationalistic tendency, partly out of concern to proclaim the continuity of modern French Catholicism with that of the Middle Ages. Here the sixteenth-century Reformation was less of an issue than the eighteenth-century Revolution. Nineteenth-century Catholics were readily persuaded that their religious inheritance had been squandered by the aesthetic and philosophical assaults of rationalism and the depredations of the revolutionaries who had profaned churches and demolished the monasteries. In France church building was in part reparation and in part a reassertion of the place of Catholicism at the heart of the nation. The port of Marseilles is, for example, dominated by two substantial churches: the new cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure (1852-93), designed by Leon Vaudoyer (1803-72) and his pupil Henri-Jacques Esperandieu (1829-74), and, on a hill on the other side of the port, Esperandieu's ungainly Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (1853-64). The spacious cathedral, an admixture of Byzantine, Siennese and Florentine elements, dwarfs its medieval predecessor which was allowed to remain in its shadow.

As in England, the French Gothic Revival went hand-in-hand with a campaign to restore the remaining architectural heritage to its former glory. The most extensive, and prestigious, of such restorations were those of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and, from 1844, of the cathedral of Notre-Dame at the hands of the two most prominent and competent Goths in France, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus (1807-57) and Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79). The

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment