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“Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile P
Ripley, it must be confessed, failed at the Admiralty, which was afterwards veiled by Mr. Adam's beautiful skreen since cruelly “cheated of its fair proportions" by the late architect to that Board, in order to make two coach entrances, which might, with the exercise of a little ingenuity, have been managed without defacing the design. It is difficult, now, to decide the exact share that Ripley had in the house for Lord Orford, at Houghton, for which Campbell appears to have furnished the original design. Walpole, whom we may presume to have known something about the matter, says they were much improved by Ripley. He published them in two volumes, folio, 1755–60. It is to be regretted that scarcely a single line of Pope, in matters of taste relative to the artists of his day, is of the smallest worth, so much did party and politics direct the shafts of the poet's malice. The plain truth is, that Ripley was the rival of Kent, the favourite of Lord Burlington, whose patronage it was absolutely necessary to enjoy before he could ensure the smiles of Pope. Ripley was comptroller of the Board of Works, and died in 1758.
508. Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, an amateur of this reign, cannot pass unnoticed in the History of its Architecture. He much improved Wilton, where he built the Palladian Bridge; and it is highly honourable to his memory that, owing to his exertions, the qualifications of Labelye for building Westminster Bridge were acknowledged in opposition to Hawksmoor and Batty Langley, the latter of whom was an ignorant pretender. Of this bridge Earl Henry laid the first stone in 1739, and the last in 1747. His works, besides those at Wilton, were, the new lodge in Richmond Park, the Countess of Suffolk's house at Marble Hill, Twickenham, and the Water House at Lord Orford's Park at Houghton. He died in 1751.
509. Before advancing our history another step, we have to notice another nobleman, whom to enrol among the number of her artists is an honour to England; and in speaking of Richard Boyle, the third Earl of Burlington and fourth Earl of Ossory, we so entirely agree in Walpole's eulogy of him, that we shall not apologise for transcribing it from that author's pages: — “Never was protection and great wealth more generously and judiciously diffused than by this great person, who had every quality of a genius and an artist, except envy. Though his own designs were more chaste and classic than Kent's, he entertained him in his house till his death, and was more studious to extend his friend's fame than his own." Again, he continues, “Nor was his munificence confined to himself and his own houses and gardens. He spent great sums in contributing to public works, and was known to chuse that the expense should fall on himself, rather than that his country should be deprived of some beautiful edifices. His enthusiasm for the works of Inigo Jones was so active that he repaired the church of Covent Garden, because it was the production of that great master, and purchased a gateway at Beaufort Gardens, in Chelsea, and transported the identical stones to Chiswick with religious attachment. With the same zeal for pure architecture, he assisted Kent in publishing the designs for Whitehall, and gave a beautiful edition of the ‘Antique Baths, from the Drawings of Palladio,' whose papers he procured with great cost. Besides his works on his own estate, at Lonsborough, in Yorkshire, he new-fronted his house in Piccadilly, built by his father, and added the great colonnade within the court.” This liberal-minded nobleman gave the credit of this design to Kent, though, as Kent did not return from Italy before 1729, it is certain that architect could have had little to do with it. His villa at Chiswick, now that of the Duke of Devonshire, was an original design, and not, as is generally supposed, an imitation of Palladio's Villa Capra at Vicenza. It was, however, too much in the Italian taste to be suitable to an English climate or to English comforts; hence its great external beauty extracted from Lord Chesterfield the well-known verses —
“Possessed of one great house of state,
Lord Hervey also sported his little wit upon this little bijou, which its subsequent additions have not much improved, saying “that it was too small to inhabit, and too large to hang one's watch in.” 510. The dormitory of Westminster School and the Assembly Room at York are beautiful examples of the great powers of Lord Burlington; but the house for Lord Harrington at Petersham, the Duke of Richmond's at Whitehall (pulled down), and General Wade's house in Great Burlington Street were not well planned, the latter especially, on which it was said by Lord Chesterfield, on account of its beautiful front, that “as the general could not live in it to his ease, he had better take a house over against it, and look at it.” The Earl of Burlington was born in 1695, and died in 1753. 511. William Kent, a native of Yorkshire, where he was born in 1685, if he did not advance the art, was at least far from retarding or checking any progress it seemed likely to make. Kent was a painter as well as an architect, though as the former very inferior to the latter; and to these accomplishments must be added those of a gardener, for he was the father of modern picturesque gardening. Kent's greatest, and, out of many, also his best work, was Holkham, in Norfolk, for the Earl of Leicester, the plan and elevations whereof were published in folio, 1761, by the late Mr. Brettingham, who had the unparalleled assurance to send them to the world as his own. The noble hall of this building, terminated by a vast flight of steps, produces an effect unequalled by anything similar to it in England. During, and, indeed, previous to, Kent's coming so much into employment, a great passion seems to have existed with the architects for ill-shaped, and, perhaps, almost grotesque, urns and globes, on every part where there was a resting-place for them. Kent not unfrequently disfigured his works, in this way, but more especially so at the beginning of his career. The pile of building in Margaret Street, which will shortly have to make way for part of the new parliament houses, now, however, containing the law courts, a house at Esher for Mr. Pelham, the Horse Guards, and other buildings, which it is needless here to particularise, were erected under the designs of Kent, upon whom unbounded liberality and patronage were bestowed by Lord Burlington during the life of this artist, which terminated in 1748.
512. About 1733 appeared, we believe, the last of the stone churches with steeples, which the practice of Wren had made common in this country; this was the church of St. Giles's in the Fields, erected by Henry Flitcroft. The interior is decorated with Ionic columns resting on stone piers. The exterior has a rusticated basement, the windows of the galleries have semicircular heads, and the whole is surmounted by a modillion cornice. The steeple is 165 feet high, consisting of a square tower, the upper part decorated with Doric pilasters; above, it is formed into an octagon on the plan, the sides being ornamented with three quarter Ionic columns supporting a balustrade and vases. Above this rises an octangular spire. Besides this, Flitcroft erected the church of St. Olave, Southwark, and the almost entire rebuilding of Woburn Abbey was from the designs and superintendence of that master, who died in 1769.
513. During the reign under our consideration, the city of Bath may be said to have almost arisen from the designs of Wood, who built Prior Park for Mr. Allen, the friend of Pope, and Buckland was erected by him for Sir John Throckmorton. Wood died in 1754, To him and to his scholars Bath is indebted for the designs of Queen Square, the Parades, the Circus, the Crescent, the New Assembly Room, &c. The buildings of this city possess various degrees of merit, but nothing so extraordinary as to call for more than the mere notice of them. We are by no means, for instance, disposed to agree with Mitford, who reckons the crescent of Bath among “the finest modern buildings at this day existing in the world !”
Georg E ini.
514. Though the works of the architects about to follow, belong partially to the preceding reign, they are only properly to be noticed under that of George III. Without a lengthened account of them, we commence with the mention of the name of Carr of York, who was much employed in the northern counties, where he built several noble residences, particularly that for Mr. Lascelles, afterwards Lord Harewood, and a mausoleum in Yorkshire for the late Marquis of Rockingham. Paine was engaged at Worksop Manor, Wardour Castle, and Thorndon; and Hiorne, whose county sessions-house and prison at Warwick exhibit considerable genius, was a promising artist, prematurely cut off. His talent was not confined to the Italian style, as may be learnt from reference to the church at Tetbury in Gloucestershire, and a triangular tower in the Duke of Norfolk's park at Arundel.
515. At a early part of the reign of George III., architecture was cultivated and practised here with great success by Robert Taylor, afterwards knighted. His best compositions were designed with a breadth and intimate knowledge of the art, that prove him to have been abundantly acquainted with its principles. That he was not always successful, the wings of the Bank, now removed, were a proof. Of his works sufficient would remain to corroborate our opinion, if only what is now the Pelican Office in Lombard Street existed. We believe it was originally built for Sir Charles Asgill, and ruined by the directors of the Pelican when they took to the place. There are, however, also to attest the ability of Sir Robert Taylor, Sir Charles Asgill's villa at Richmond, and his own house in Spring Gardens. After his visit to Italy he commenced his practice in sculpture, in which branch of the arts he has left monuments in Westminster Abbey and elsewhere; but he afterwards devoted himself to architecture alone. Among his works were a dwelling house for Sir P. Taylor, near Portsdown Hill, a house in Piccadilly for the Duke of Grafton, a mansion in Herts for Lord Howe; Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn; Ely House, Dover Street; a very clever composition, Sir John Boyd's at Danson, near Shooter's Hill; the beautiful bridge at Henley on Thames, and Lord Grimstone's at Gorhambury. He had for some time a seat at the Board of Works, was surveyor to the Admiralty, the Bank, and other public bodies. His reputation was unbounded, and met with reward from the public. Sir Robert Taylor died in 1788 at the age of seventy-four. 516. Cotemporary with the last-named artist, was one to whom the nation is indebted for first bringing it to an intimate acquaintance with the works of Greece, to which he first led the way. The reader will, of course, anticipate us in the name of James Stuart, who began his career as a painter. After some time passed in Greece, he, in conjunction with Nicholas Revett, about the year 1762, published the well-known Antiquities of Athens, from which he acquired the soubriquet of Athenian. The public taste was purified by a corrected knowledge of the buildings of Greece, especially in respect of the form, composition, and arrangement of ornament; but we doubt whether mischief was not for a time induced by it, from the absurd attempt, afterwards, to adapt, without discrimination, the pure Greek porticoes of the temples of Greece to public and private buildings in this country, often with buildings with which they have no more natural relation than the interior arrangement of a church has with that of a theatre. The architects of our own time seem, however, at last to be aware of the impossibility of applying with success the forms of Grecian temples to English habitations; and a better system has been returned to, that of applying to every object a character suitable to the purposes of its destination. We consider Stuart's best work the house, in St. James's Square, which he built for Lord Anson. Among other works, he executed Belvedere, in Kent, for Lord Eardley; a house for Mrs. Montague, in Portman Square; the chapel and infirmary of Greenwich Hospital; and some parts of the interior of Lord Spencer's house, in St. James's Place. Stuart died in 1788, at the age of seventy-five. His collaborateur, Revett, shared with him a portion of the patronage of the public. He survived him till 1804, when he died at the advanced age of eighty-two years. He was employed on the eastern and western porticoes of Lord De Spencer's house at West Wycombe, and on some temples. For Sir Lionel Hyde he built the church of Ayot St. Lawrence, Herts, the front whereto is a Doric portico crowned with a low Grecian pediment, and on each side an Ionic colonnade connects the centre with an elegant cenotaph. He also built a portico to the eastern front of Handlinch, in Wiltshire, for Mr. Dawkins. 517. The chasteness and purity which the two last-named architects had, with some success, endeavoured to introduce into the buildings of England, and in which their zeal had enlisted many artists, had to contend against the opposite and vicious taste brought by Robert Adam, a fashionable architect, whose eye had been corrupted by the corrupt taste of the worst time of Roman art. It can be scarcely believed, the ornaments of Diocletian's palace at Spalatro should have loaded our dwellings contemporaneously with the use among the more refined few of the exquisite exemplars of Greece, and even of Rome, in its better days. Yet such is the fact ; the depraved compositions of Adam were not only tolerated, but had their admirers. It is not to be supposed that the works of a man who was content to draw his supplies from so vitiated a source will here require a lengthened notice. Yet had he his happy moments; and that we may do him strict justice, we not only mention, but
present to the reader, in figs. 221. and 222., the ground plan and elevation of Kedlestone, in Derbyshire, which he erected for Lord Scarsdale. The detail of this is, indeed, not exactly what it ought to have been ; but the whole is magnificently conceived, and worthy of any master. Adam died at the age of ninety-four, in 1792; and, besides the Adelphi, in the Strand, which he erected on speculation, he was engaged at Luton Park, in Bedfordshire, for the Earl of Bute; at Caenwood, near Hampstead, for Lord Mansfield ; at Shelburne House, in Berkeley Square, now Lord Lansdowne's, well planned, but ill designed, a meagre affair; the disgraceful gateway at Sion, near Brentford; and on part of the Register Office at Edinburgh. None, however, would now do credit to a mere tyro in the art except the first named.
518. Previous to the accession of George III. it had been considered by his tutors necessary to complete his education by the study requisite to give him some acquaintance with the art. We venerate the memory of that monarch as an honest good man, but are compelled to say that the experiment of inoculating him with a taste for it was unsuccessful, for during his reign all the bizareries introduced by Adam received no check, and seeing that Adam and Bute were both from the north, we are rather surprised that his education was not in this respect committed to the former instead of Sir William Chambers, whom, as one of the first architects of the day, it is incumbent upon us now to introduce. We believe that whatever was done to forward the arts, owes a large portion of its effect to that celebrated man; and it is probable, with the worthy motives that actuated the monarch, and the direction of his taste by that individual, much more would have been accomplished, but for the heavy and disastrous wars which occurred during his reign, and the load of debt with which it became burthened. The works of Chambers are found in almost every part of England, and even extended to Ireland; but we intend here chiefly to restrict ourselves to a short account of Somerset House, his largest work, in which, though there be many faults, so well did he understand his art, that it is a matter of no ordinary difficulty, and indeed requires hypercriticism, to find anything offensive to good taste in the detail.
519. This work was commenced in 1776, and stands on an area of 500 ft. in depth, and 800 ft. in width. The general interior distribution consists of a quadrangular court, 343 ft. in length, and 210 ft. in width, with a street or wide way running from north to south, on its eastern and western sides. The general termination towards the river is a terrace, 50 ft. wide, whose level is 50 ft. above that of the river, and this occupies the whole length of the façade in that direction. The front towards the Strand is only 135 ft. long. It is composed with a rustic basement, supporting ten Corinthian columns on pedestals, crowned by an attic, extending over the three central intercolumniations, flanked by a balustrade on each side. The order embraces two stories. Nine large arches are assigned to the basement, whereof the three central ones are open for the purpose of affording an entrance to the great court. On each side of them, these arches are occupied by windows of the Doric order, decorated with pilasters, entablatures, and pediments. The key stones are carved in alto-relievo, with nine colossal masks, representing the ocean, and the eight principal rivers of Great Britain. The three open arches of entrance before mentioned lead to a vestibule, which connects the Strand with the large quadrangular court, and serves also as the access to those parts of the building, till lately occupied by the Royal Academy, and on the opposite or eastern side to the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries, the entrances whereto are within the vestibule. This is decorated with columns of the Doric order, whose entablature supports a vaulted ceiling. The front of this pile of building towards the quadrangle, is 200 ft. in extent, being much more than the length of that towards the Strand; the style, however, of its decoration is correspondent with it, the principal variation being in the use of pilasters instead of columns, and in the
doors and windows. The front next the Thames is ornamented in a similar manner to that already described. It was originally intended that the extent of the terrace should have been 1100 ft. This last is supported by a lofty arcade, decorated towards the ends with coupled Tuscan columns, whose cornice is continued along the whole terrace. The edifice was at the time the subject of much severe criticism, and particularly from the pen of a silly engraver of the name of Williams, under the name of Antony Pasquin; but the censures he passed on it, the author being as innocent of the slightest knowledge of the art as most of the writing architectural critics of the present day, were without foundation, and have long since been forgotten. 520. In the year 1759, Sir W. Chambers published a Treatise on the decorative part of civil architecture, whereof it was the lot of the writer to publish an enlarged edition in 1825. This work, as far as it goes, still continues to be a sort of text-book for the student; but as it is merely what its title imports, without touching on the historical or practical parts of the art, it is so far incomplete. Chambers held the office of surveyor general, and died in 1796. 521. Among the architects of George III.'s reign, we must not forget Robert Mylne, the architect of Blackfriar's Bridge, constructed between 1760 and 1768 ; Holland, who erected Carlton House for George IV. when Prince of Wales, and Drury Lane Theatre, neither of which buildings now exists; Dance, the architect of Newgate, St. Luke's Hospital, and many buildings about the city of London, to whose corporation he was architect; and, lastly, Willey Reveley, a pupil of Chambers, who followed the steps of Stuart and visited Athens and the Levant. He was the editor of the third volume of the Antiquities of Athens, and died prematurely in 1799. He built the new church at Southampton, and offered some beautiful designs for the new baths at Bath, which, however, were not adopted. We have now concluded a general view of the history of the art, from its dawn in this country to the end of the reign of George III. ; having enumerated the professors of later days most worthy to be recorded. Further we should not be able to pursue our inquiry without coming so into contact with our cotemporaries and their connections, that our office, if not dangerous and fearful, might be unpleasant, and we must here close. We regret we cannot think our national architecture advances in the same ratio that the facilities of study in the present day would indicate. This is not to be imputed so much to the professors of the art as to the way in which it is treated by Government and the public; witness the National Gallery, made a job by a minister for an incompetent artist. “It is a national, a social misfortune,” says the late James Spiller, “that to the scientific study of this noble art, there is no reasonable, much less liberal encouragement. It is degraded and crushed under the most despicable spirit of calculation and parsimony " If ever a deathblow was aimed at the art, that was done by the commissioners for building the recent new churches. What artist could hope to become celebrated under their pinching ordinances, competitions, and contracts, with their accompanying legal din and “smithery 2" Far dif. ferent was the conduct of those commissioners to whom Queen Anne entrusted the building of her churches, or their existence would have been matter only of history, a category that we are certain will apply, at the end of a century, to many of those of the present day.