Classical architecture

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Sebastiano Serlio was the first to canonize the five Classical orders (Tuscan, Ionic, Doric, Corinthian and Composite), in a prime example of classical architectural theory. Serlio 5 orders peake.png
Sebastiano Serlio was the first to canonize the five Classical orders (Tuscan, Ionic, Doric, Corinthian and Composite), in a prime example of classical architectural theory.

Classical architecture usually denotes architecture which is more or less consciously derived from the principles of Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, or sometimes even more specifically, from the works of the Roman architect Vitruvius. [1] [2] Different styles of classical architecture have arguably existed since the Carolingian Renaissance, [3] and prominently since the Italian Renaissance. Although classical styles of architecture can vary greatly, they can in general all be said to draw on a common "vocabulary" of decorative and constructive elements. [4] [5] [6] In much of the Western world, different classical architectural styles have dominated the history of architecture from the Renaissance until the second world war, though it continues to inform many architects to this day.

Contents

The term classical architecture also applies to any mode of architecture that has evolved to a highly refined state, such as classical Chinese architecture, or classical Mayan architecture. It can also refer to any architecture that employs classical aesthetic philosophy. The term might be used differently from "traditional" or "vernacular architecture", although it can share underlying axioms with it.

For contemporary buildings following authentic classical principles, the term New Classical architecture is sometimes used.

History

Origins

Classical architecture is derived from the architecture of ancient Greece and ancient Rome. With a collapse of the western part of the Roman empire, the architectural traditions of the Roman empire ceased to be practised in large parts of western Europe. In the Byzantine Empire, the ancient ways of building lived on but relatively soon developed into a distinct Byzantine style. [7] The first conscious efforts to bring back the disused language of form of classical antiquity into Western architecture can be traced to the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries. The gatehouse of Lorsch Abbey (c. 800), in present-day Germany thus displays a system of alternating attached columns and arches which could be an almost direct paraphrase of e.g., that of the Colosseum in Rome. [8] Byzantine architecture, just as Romanesque and even to some extent Gothic architecture (with which classical architecture is often posed), can also incorporate classical elements and details but do not to the same degree reflect a conscious effort to draw upon the architectural traditions of antiquity; for example, they do not observe the idea of a systematic order of proportions for columns. In general, therefore, they are not considered classical architectural styles in a strict sense. [9]

Origins of classical architecture
Porch of Maidens.jpg
Caryatids on the Erechtheion, (Athens), an example of a Greek architectural element taken up by later classical architecture.
Maison Carree in Nimes (16).jpg
The fronts of ancient Roman temples like the Maison Carrée in Nîmes have inspired much later classical architecture, e.g. Virginia State Capitol.
Kloster Lorsch 07.jpg
Lorsch Abbey gatehouse (Germany), c. 800, an example of the architectural style of the short-lived Carolingian Renaissance, a first classical movement in architecture.

Development

The emphatically classical church facade of Santa Maria Nova, Vicenza (1578-90) was designed by the influential Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. S Maria Nuova (Vicenza) 20081204-1 retouched.jpg
The emphatically classical church façade of Santa Maria Nova, Vicenza (157890) was designed by the influential Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.

During the Italian Renaissance and with the demise of Gothic style, major efforts were made by architects such as Leon Battista Alberti, Sebastiano Serlio and Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola to revive the language of architecture of first and foremost ancient Rome. This was done in part through the study of the ancient Roman architectural treatise De architectura by Vitruvius, and to some extent by studying the actual remains of ancient Roman buildings in Italy. [10] Nonetheless, the classical architecture of the Renaissance from the outset represents a highly specific interpretation of the classical ideas. In a building like the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence by Filippo Brunelleschi, one of the earliest Renaissance buildings (built 141945), the treatment of the columns for example has no direct antecedent in ancient Roman architecture. [11] During this time period, the study of ancient architecture developed into the architectural theory of classical architecture; somewhat over-simplified, one could say that classical architecture in its variety of forms ever since have been interpretations and elaborations of the architectural rules set down during antiquity. [12]

Most of the styles originating in post-Renaissance Europe can be described as classical architecture. This broad use of the term is employed by Sir John Summerson in The Classical Language of Architecture . The elements of classical architecture have been applied in radically different architectural contexts than those for which they were developed, however. For example, Baroque or Rococo architecture are styles which, although classical at root, display an architectural language very much in their own right. During these periods, architectural theory still referred to classical ideas but rather less sincerely than during the Renaissance. [13]

The Palladian architecture developed from the style of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580) had a great influence long after his death, above all in Britain, where it was adopted for many of the grander buildings of the Georgian architecture of the 18th and early 19th century.

As a reaction to late Baroque and Rococo forms, architectural theorists from circa 1750 through what became known as Neoclassicism again consciously and earnestly attempted to emulate antiquity, supported by recent developments in Classical archaeology and a desire for an architecture based on clear rules and rationality. Claude Perrault, Marc-Antoine Laugier and Carlo Lodoli were among the first theorists of Neoclassicism, while Étienne-Louis Boullée, Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Friedrich Gilly and John Soane were among the more radical and influential. [14] Neoclassical architecture held a particularly strong position on the architectural scene c. 17501850. The competing neo-Gothic style however rose to popularity during the early 1800s, and the later part the 19th century was characterised by a variety of styles, some of them only slightly or not at all related to classicism (such as Art Nouveau), and Eclecticism. Although classical architecture continued to play an important role and for periods of time at least locally dominated the architectural scene, as exemplified by the Nordic Classicism during the 1920s, classical architecture in its stricter form never regained its former dominance. With the advent of Modernism during the early 20th century, classical architecture arguably almost completely ceased to be practised. [15]

Scope

The Glyptothek in Munich, designed by Leo von Klenze and built 1816-30, an example of Neoclassical architecture. Glyptothek in Munchen in 2013.jpg
The Glyptothek in Munich, designed by Leo von Klenze and built 181630, an example of Neoclassical architecture.

As noted above, classical styles of architecture dominated Western architecture for a very long time, roughly from the Renaissance until the advent of Modernism. That is to say, that classical antiquity at least in theory was considered the prime source of inspiration for architectural endeavours in the West for much of Modern history. Even so, because of liberal, personal or theoretically diverse interpretations of the antique heritage, classicism covers a broad range of styles, some even so to speak cross-referencing, like Neo-Palladian architecture, which draws its inspiration from the works of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, who himself drew inspiration from ancient Roman architecture. [16] Furthermore, it can even be argued that styles of architecture not typically considered classical, like Gothic, can be said to contain classical elements. Therefore, a simple delineation of the scope of classical architecture is difficult to make. [17] The more or less defining characteristic can still be said to be a reference to ancient Greek or Roman architecture, and the architectural rules or theories that derived from that architecture.

Petrification

Croydon Airport in England, opened in 1920 and built in a Neoclassical style. Croydon Airport-1415 01.JPG
Croydon Airport i n England, opened in 1920 and built in a Neoclassical style.

In the grammar of architecture, the word petrification is often used when discussing the development of sacred structures such as temples, mainly with reference to developments in the Greek world. During the Archaic and early Classical periods (about the 6th and early 5th centuries BC), the architectural forms of the earliest temples had solidified and the Doric emerged as the predominant element. A widely accepted theory in classical studies is that the earliest temple structures were of wood and the great forms, or elements of architectural style, were codified and rather permanent by the time we see the Archaic emergent and established. It was during this period, at different times and places in the Greek world, that the use of dressed and polished stone replaced the wood in these early temples, but the forms and shapes of the old wooden styles were retained, just as if the wooden structures had turned to stone, thus the designation "petrification" [18] or sometimes "petrified carpentry" [19] for this process.

This careful preservation of the primitive wooden appearance in the stone fabric of the newer buildings was scrupulously observed and this suggests that it may have been dictated by religion rather than aesthetics, although the exact reasons are now lost in the mists of antiquity. Not everyone within the great reach of Mediterranean civilization made this transition. The Etruscans in Italy were, from their earliest period, greatly influenced by their contact with Greek culture and religion, but they retained their wooden temples (with some exceptions) until their culture was completely absorbed into the Roman world, with the great wooden Temple of Jupiter on the Capitol in Rome itself being a good example. Nor was it the lack of knowledge of stone working on their part that prevented them from making the transition from timber to dressed stone.

See also

Related Research Articles

Classical order Styles of classical architecture, most readily recognizable by the type of column employed

An order in architecture is a certain assemblage of parts subject to uniform established proportions, regulated by the office that each part has to perform. Coming down to the present from Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman civilization, the architectural orders are the styles of classical architecture, each distinguished by its proportions and characteristic profiles and details, and most readily recognizable by the type of column employed. The three orders of architecture—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—originated in Greece. To these the Romans added, in practice if not in name, the Tuscan, which they made simpler than Doric, and the Composite, which was more ornamental than the Corinthian. The architectural order of a classical building is akin to the mode or key of classical music; the grammar or rhetoric of a written composition. It is established by certain modules like the intervals of music, and it raises certain expectations in an audience attuned to its language.

Georgian architecture Architectural styles current in the English-speaking world between c. 1714 and 1830

Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.

Ictinus was an architect active in the mid 5th century BC. Ancient sources identify Ictinus and Callicrates as co-architects of the Parthenon. He co-wrote a book on the project – which is now lost – in collaboration with Carpion.

Renaissance architecture Style of architecture

Renaissance architecture is the European architecture of the period between the early 14th and early 16th centuries in different regions, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was succeeded by Baroque architecture. Developed first in Florence, with Filippo Brunelleschi as one of its innovators, the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities. The style was carried to France, Spain, Germany, England, Russia and other parts of Europe at different dates and with varying degrees of impact.

Post and lintel building system where horizontal elements are held up by vertical elements

In architecture, post and lintel is a building system where strong horizontal elements are held up by strong vertical elements with large spaces between them. This is usually used to hold up a roof, creating a largely open space beneath, for whatever use the building is designed. The horizontal elements are called by a variety of names including lintel, header, architrave or beam, and the supporting vertical elements may be called columns, pillars, or posts. The use of wider elements at the top of the post, called capitals, to help spread the load, is common to many traditions.

Doric order Order of ancient Greek and Roman architecture

The Doric order was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian. The Doric is most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns. Originating in the western Doric region of Greece, it is the earliest and, in its essence, the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above.

Ionic order Order of classical architecture characterized by the use of volutes in the capital and a base moulding on the columns

The Ionic order is one of the three canonic orders of classical architecture, the other two being the Doric and the Corinthian. There are two lesser orders: the Tuscan, and the rich variant of Corinthian called the composite order. Of the three classical canonic orders, the Ionic order has the narrowest columns.

Classicism Art movement and architectural style

Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. In its purest form, classicism is an aesthetic attitude dependent on principles based in the culture, art and literature of ancient Greece and Rome, with the emphasis on form, simplicity, proportion, clarity of structure, perfection, restrained emotion, as well as explicit appeal to the intellect. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint and compression we are simply objecting to the classicism of classic art. A violent emphasis or a sudden acceleration of rhythmic movement would have destroyed those qualities of balance and completeness through which it retained until the present century its position of authority in the restricted repertoire of visual images." Classicism, as Clark noted, implies a canon of widely accepted ideal forms, whether in the Western canon that he was examining in The Nude (1956), or the literary Chinese classics or Chinese art, where the revival of classic styles is also a recurring feature.

Neoclassicism Western cultural movement inspired by ancient Greece and Rome

Neoclassicism was a Western cultural movement in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that drew inspiration from the art and culture of classical antiquity. Neoclassicism was born in Rome largely thanks to the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, at the time of the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but its popularity spread all over Europe as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, laterally competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

Giant order architectural order that extends in several levels of height or plants, and in which the columns or pilasters go through at least two floors

In classical architecture, a giant order, also known as colossal order, is an order whose columns or pilasters span two storeys. At the same time, smaller orders may feature in arcades or window and door framings within the storeys that are embraced by the giant order.

Regency architecture

Regency architecture encompasses classical buildings built in the United Kingdom during the Regency era in the early 19th century when George IV was Prince Regent, and also to earlier and later buildings following the same style. The period coincides with the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States and the French Empire style. Regency style is also applied to interior design and decorative arts of the period, typified by elegant furniture and vertically striped wallpaper, and to styles of clothing; for men, as typified by the dandy Beau Brummell, for women the Empire silhouette.

Outline of classical architecture Overview of and topical guide to classical architecture

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to classical architecture:

Roman temple ancient temple of the Roman culture

Ancient Roman temples were among the most important buildings in Roman culture, and some of the richest buildings in Roman architecture, though only a few survive in any sort of complete state. Today they remain "the most obvious symbol of Roman architecture". Their construction and maintenance was a major part of ancient Roman religion, and all towns of any importance had at least one main temple, as well as smaller shrines. The main room (cella) housed the cult image of the deity to whom the temple was dedicated, and often a table for supplementary offerings or libations and a small altar for incense. Behind the cella was a room or rooms used by temple attendants for storage of equipment and offerings. The ordinary worshiper rarely entered the cella, and most public ceremonies were performed outside where the sacrificial altar was located, on the portico, with a crowd gathered in the temple precinct.

Parvise open space in front of and around a cathedral or church

A parvis or parvise is the open space in front of and around a cathedral or church, especially when surrounded by either colonnades or porticoes, as at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It is thus a church-specific type of forecourt, front yard or apron.

Tudor Revival architecture architectural style

Tudor Revival architecture first manifested itself in domestic architecture in the United Kingdom in the latter half of the 19th century. Based on revival of aspects that were perceived as Tudor architecture, in reality it usually took the style of English vernacular architecture of the Middle Ages that had survived into the Tudor period. The style later became an influence elsewhere, especially the British colonies. For example, in New Zealand, the architect Francis Petre adapted the style for the local climate. In Singapore, then a British colony, architects such as R. A. J. Bidwell pioneered what became known as the Black and White House. The earliest examples of the style originate with the works of such eminent architects as Norman Shaw and George Devey, in what at the time was thought Neo-Tudor design.

Festoon decoration of a wreath or garland hanging from two points

A festoon is a wreath or garland hanging from two points, and in architecture typically a carved ornament depicting conventional arrangement of flowers, foliage or fruit bound together and suspended by ribbons. The motif is sometimes known as a swag when depicting fabric or linen.

The Classical Language of Architecture is a 1965 compilation of six BBC radio lectures given in 1963 by Sir John Summerson. It is a 60-some page discussion of the origins of classical architecture and its movement through Antiquity, Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Georgian periods. A discussion of the rules and elements in classical terms of the Orders, architectural harmony of design, are included. In 2017 it remains in print in several countries, in illustrated editions of about 144 pages, with 119 illustrations, plus small diagrams. For the original radio broadcasts the BBC published a booklet with 60 photographs of the buildings discussed, which were expanded in the book editions.

David John Watkin, FRIBA FSA was a British architectural historian. He was an emeritus fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and professor emeritus of History of Architecture in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge. He also taught at the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture.

Fluting (architecture)

Fluting in architecture consists of shallow grooves running along a surface.

Hugh Honour British art historian

Hugh Honour FRSL was a British art historian, known for his writing partnership with John Fleming. Their A World History of Art, is now in its seventh edition and Honour's Chinoiserie: The Vision of Cathay (1961) first set the phenomenon of chinoiserie in its European cultural context.

References

  1. Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). Dictionary of architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p.  76. ISBN   0-14-051013-3.
  2. Watkin, David (2005). A History of Western Architecture (4 ed.). Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 6–8. ISBN   0-8230-2277-3.
  3. Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). Dictionary of architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p.  76. ISBN   0-14-051013-3.
  4. Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). Dictionary of architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p.  76. ISBN   0-14-051013-3.
  5. Watkin, David (2005). A History of Western Architecture (4 ed.). Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 6–8. ISBN   0-8230-2277-3.
  6. Summerson, John (1980). The Classical Language of Architecture. Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 7–8. ISBN   0-500-20177-3.
  7. Adam, Robert (1992). Classical Architecture. Viking. p. 16.
  8. Pevsner, Nikolaus (1964). An Outline of European Architecture (7 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. pp. 45–47.
  9. Summerson, John (1980). The Classical Language of Architecture. Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 7–8. ISBN   0-500-20177-3.
  10. Summerson, John (1980). The Classical Language of Architecture. Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 7–8. ISBN   0-500-20177-3.
  11. Pevsner, Nikolaus (1964). An Outline of European Architecture (7 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. pp. 177–178.
  12. Evers, Bernd; Thoenes, Christof (2011). Architectural Theory from the Renaissance to the Present. 1. Taschen. pp. 6–19. ISBN   978-3-8365-3198-6.
  13. Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). Dictionary of architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p.  76. ISBN   0-14-051013-3.
  14. Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). Dictionary of architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p.  76. ISBN   0-14-051013-3.
  15. Summerson, John (1980). The Classical Language of Architecture. Thames and Hudson Ltd. p. 114. ISBN   0-500-20177-3.
  16. Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1986). Dictionary of architecture (3 ed.). Penguin Books Ltd. p.  234. ISBN   0-14-051013-3.
  17. Summerson, John (1980). The Classical Language of Architecture. Thames and Hudson Ltd. pp. 7–8. ISBN   0-500-20177-3.
  18. Gagarin, Michael. The Oxford encyclopedia of ancient Greece and Rome. Vol. 1. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010. 210. ISBN   0195170725
  19. Watkin, David. A history of Western architecture. 4th ed. London: Laurence King, 2005. 25. ISBN   1856694593

Further reading