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TitleTravels in the History of Architecture
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Table of Contents
                            Imprint
Contents
Preface
1 Egyptian
2 Greek
3 Roman
4 Byzantine
5 Romanesque
6 Gothic
7 Renaissance
8 Mannerism
9 Baroque
10 Historicism
11 Modernism I: Functionalism
12 Modernism II: Expressionism, Constructivism and Deconstruction
Afterword
Further reading
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Tr avels in the History of

Architecture
ROBERT HARBISON

Page 145

Superstition can be liberating if it is the right kind. Is this the think-
ing in the even more elaborate astrological sequence in the Schifanoia
palace in Ferrara of the same date? There entire walls of the largest
room were covered with frescoes representing the months through
obscure rituals rendered by sophisticated artists using modern perspec-
tive techniques.

The overall effect is like the rich jumble of medieval tapestry, but here
the parts are hard to read, not because the medium is unsuited to telling
stories like tapestry, but because different worlds collide. In the top tier
classical gods ride on triumphal cars with fluttering hangings and animal
escorts. These allegories are framed by aristocratic activities proper to the
god, performed by crowds of big, well-dressed people. Underneath in the
middle band three widely spaced figures are silhouetted against a night
sky. Under the central figures, gigantic zodiac animals. How could you
guess that these personages come from as far away as Egypt and India,
and each represent a fixed star that oversees ten days of the month? It
remains the most rigid, inscrutable symbolism, which brings together
two distant inter-translated ranges of Renaissance thought, the individ-
ual and the cosmos, the single body and the overarching scheme.

Below this in the final band, activities of the court so densely
crammed that the plan disappears in the detail. These scenes are littered
with classical ruins, as if to say that the local family can call upon an
ancient pedigree, or that the present is dwarfed by the past, or that the
world contains a Babel of tongues, not half of which we can comfortably
converse in.

But every ingredient increases the sense of richness. The colliding
belief systems – pagan, Christian, Egyptian, Indian – are not intimidating
or anxiety-ridden but a playground for the liberated mind and senses,
which can now regard half-grasped obsolete beliefs as a kind of cultural
depth, to be relished and explored for the light they throw on the univer-
sal character of man.

At the same time the elaboration borders on pedantry, not a charge
anyone levels at Alberti in spite of his mania for correctness, avoiding
solecisms like Brunelleschi’s plopping of arches straight down on
columns without intervening entablature. But if not a pedant Alberti can
at times seem a dilettante, relishing the scope for architectural variety
provided by the different characters of the classical gods, guilty of a purely
academic exercise. His command of classical sources is impressive, even
more impressive that he isn’t cowed by them, frequently showing them
contradictory in their conclusions and putting them aside at last in favour
of his own solution. It’s as if they are brought in to show that his think-
ing doesn’t happen in an empty space, but in the midst of something like
a family gathering.

143renaissance

Page 146

Even now the Roman triumphal arch seems a bizarre design source
for the façade of a church. In Rimini it takes on the fortuitous appearance
of a ruined arch (it was left incomplete) carried out in rich, obscure
materials, not Brunelleschi’s neutral stucco but coloured marbles inlaid
like gems. The triumphal arch turns up in more three-dimensional form
in Alberti’s last church, Sant’Andrea at Mantua, but in the meantime he
retreats to more delicate and illusionistic effects in his work for Giovanni
Rucellai in Florence.

The façade of the Rucellai palace is famous for its meticulous grading
of the classical orders, from Doric at the bottom to Corinthian at the top.
Even more remarkable are subtle suggestions of depth in the shallow
recessions of the plentiful carved detail. A wealth of imagery makes a first
appearance in the friezes between floors – flying sails, quills and rings –
the Rucellai emblems. The sails especially are so carefully rendered that
the effect is like inlay, yet they are shown in slightest diagonal protrusion,
trailing little ropes in fluttering movement. Juicy oak garlands are crammed
into narrow crevices over the doors. Bifora windows, familiar in Italian
Gothic, now acquire three tiny classical columns framing and splitting the
openings, capped by a tiny entablature, which completes a separate little
architectural universe.

144

Palazzo Rucellai,
Florence, Alberti’s
facade like a textbook
illustration of the
classical orders,
rendered graphically
like a drawing, yet
with subtle indica-
tions of depth,
c. 1455–58.

Page 289

Stirling, James 255–7, 256
Stourhead, Wiltshire 197–8, 198
Strasbourg cathedral, north porch 131, 131;

pulpit 131; rose window 120–21, 120
Stuttgart, Weissenhof Siedlung (Scharoun)

239
Suger, Abbot 112, 114, 116
Suprematist painting 246
Surrealism 230
Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, boat burials 15
Swing, The (Fragonard) 198

Taharqa (Pharaoh), kiosk 25
Tallinn, Estonia 264
Tatlin, Vladimir 246, 248
Taut, Bruno 224, 236–7
Terragni, Giuseppe 69, 70
Tewkesbury abbey 104, 128, 128; contested

restoration 210
Theodosius (Eastern emperor) 91, 91
Tholos tombs, Mycenae 34
Thornton, John (glazier) 118–19, 119
Thorvaldsen, Berthold, Aegina restoration 43
Tournus, St Philibert 100–3, 102
Tresham, Thomas 168–9, 169
Turin, cathedral, chapel of Holy Shroud

(Guarini) 185–7, 186; San Lorenzo
(Guarini) 184, 185, 187

Tuthmose iii (Pharaoh) suckled by tree 23;
Festival temple, Karnak 25

Tzara, Tristan 222

Urbino, Ducal Palace 146–8, 147, 149, 152,
162

Utrecht, Schroeder house (Rietveld) 226, 226

Van Doesburg, Theo 225
Vasarely, Victor (Hungarian Op artist) 54
Vasari, Giorgio 135, 159, 162
Venice, spoils from Constantinople 87, 149;

Ca’ Dario 152, 153; Santa Maria dei
Miracoli (Lombardo) 149–50, 150, 152;
Scuola Grande di Santi Giovanni e Paolo

(Lombardo) 149–50
Venus and Adonis (Shakespeare) 168
Vernacular 9, 209, 210, 212, 243, 244, 244
Vers une architecture (Le Corbusier) 227, 227,

Acropolis perspective from 48
Versailles, palace 190; gardens 177, 177
Vesnin brothers 246–8, 248, 255
Vicenza, Villa Rotunda (Palladio) 230
Vienna, Blazing Wing (performance, Coop

Himmelblau) 258; rooftop conversion
(Coop Himmelblau) 258–9, 258; Steiner
house (Loos) 221, 222

Vierzehnheiligen, pilgrimage church, near
Bamberg (Neumann) 193, 194

Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène Emmanuel 112, 113,
206

Vitruvius (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio) 104, 136,
190

Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) 259
Voysey, C.F.A 211–12, 211, 213

Wagnerian leitmotifs 8, 120, 257
Walpole, Horace 199
Watteau, Antoine 194–5
Webb, Philip 209–10, 209
Wells cathedral 127–8
West Bank (Thebes) 17, 23
Westminster Abbey 101, Henry vii chapel

132
Wieskirche, pilgrimage church, Bavaria

(Zimmermann) 191–3, 192
Wilson, Christopher 115
Wollaton Hall, Nottingham (Smythson)

169, 170, 171
Wright, Frank Lloyd 239–41, 240, 242

York Minster, Chapter house 126; East
window (Thornton) 118–9, 119;

St William shrine 134

Zd’ár nad Sazavou, St Jan Nepomuk (Santini)
188, 189, 190

Zimmermann, Dominikus 191–3, 192

287index

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