Tag Archives: architecture

Robert Adam

Robert Adam

Designer, Architect
(1728 – 1792) 

robert adamRobert Adam the man who revolutionized English classical design in the course of the eighteenth century, was born into a family of educated Scots in Edinburgh in 1728. Adam’s father was also a successful architect, and the young Adam mastered the skills of this trade early in life, joining his father’s firm for a time in the years immediately after he finished university. When his father died in 1748, Adam continued the practice with his brother John, and together they undertook many successful commissions throughout Scotland. These included buildings constructed in the then popular Gothic Revival style as well as forts and other military fortifications intended to quell recent uprisings in the country.

With his fortune strengthened, Robert Adam embarked on his Grand Tour in 1754, making acircuit similar to other cultivated British gentlemen of the age. His journey lasted four years, a large portion ofwhich he spent in Italy. In Rome, he came into contact with the discoveries that were being made about ancient architecture from excavations underway in Pompeii and Herculaneum, the ill fated towns destroyed by the eruptionof Mt. Vesuvius in 79 C.E. In 1758, Adam returned to Britain from his journeys and settled in London, where he soon became a fashionable designer of interiors and structures for the English aristocracy and gentry.

Changung Tastes

Syon HouseCommissions came slowly at first for Adam in London, although his business quickly improved with his election to the Royal Academy in1761 and his selection, together with his rival William Chambers, to serve as co-architect of the King’s Works. By 1763, his practice was successful enough to accommodate his two brothers, who joined the firm in London. During the years between his arrival in the capital and1765, Adam mastered the Neoclassical style, and in his later life he seldom designed buildings in the Gothic Revival style that he had practiced in his youth. One of his chief achievements from the early years in London was the completion of the remodeling of Syon House, a Tudor-era convent located outside London.

Over the previous generations, this building had been remodeled to increase its comfort as a private house. Adam, however, cleared away many of the previous additions, and in their place designed classical rooms notable for their severity and restraint. He laid out these spaces in an unusual configuration of patterns drawn from his knowledge of Roman baths, and he made use of dramatic contrastsof color. The impressive designs he realized at Syon House earned him great acclaim and Adam received many new commissions for remodeling and new structures at the end of the 1760s. Chief among the many country houses he designed at this time were Osterley Park in Middlesex, and Kenwood House, a brilliant little gem of Neoclassical architecture located on Hampstead Heath on the fringes of London. Osterley Park was apre-existing Tudor house that Adam redesigned to fit with the Neoclassical fashion. To do so, he built a dramatic classical portico around the structure’s courtyard, raising the vertical lines of the house to a new, more dramatic height and decorating the rooms with a series of motifs drawn from Antiquity. These included coffered Roman ceilings, apses, pilasters, and even ancient grotesques. Read the rest of this entry

Andrea Palladio

Andrea Palladio

PalladioPalladio, the greatest architect of sixteenth century Northern Italy, was probably born in Padua in1508. At birth his name was Andrea di Pietro; he didnot take the classical name Palladio until he was middleaged. Around the age of 13 he worked as an apprenticeto a local stone mason, but he apparently did not stay in this workshop long. By 1524, records show that he hadenrolled in the stonemasons’ guild in nearby Vicenza, where he joined a local workshop. Eventually, his talents came to the attention of the local aristocrat, Gian Giorgio Trissino.

Trissino was a humanist scholar and he soon became the young stonemason’s patron. Under Trissino’s influence, the future architect acquired some knowledge of Latin and studied Vitruvius’ ancient treatiseon architecture. At Trissino’s urging, Andrea di Pietro changed his name to the Latin, Palladio, and with the elder aristocrat’s support the designer made several study trips to Rome during the 1540s. On one of these journeys he met Michelangelo, and during all his stays in Rome he spent a great deal of time in the ancient center of the city, studying and drawing the monuments of the ancient Roman Empire.

Around 1540, Palladio had already begun to design buildings in and around Vicenza. His earliest commissions were for domestic palaces in the city and country villas. These works do not yet show a secure understanding of ancient Roman architecture. During the course of the 1540s, though, his mastery of classicism grew more assured. The most important commission Palladio received at this early stage in his career as an architect was for the reconstruction of Vicenza’s Basilica. This complex, a series of local government offices,had been joined together in the later Middle Ages with a series of Gothic arcades.


In 1496, one of the sestructures had collapsed, and during the following decades the government at Vicenza searched for an architect who might rebuild the structures on a more secure footing. Palladio won the commission, and there sulting building he created established his reputationas an architect of merit. Palladio continued in the 1550sto design domestic palaces, government buildings, and country villas in and around Vicenza. In his country villas especially, Palladio’s works display his certain mastery over classical building styles and his ability to adapt those elements to contemporary situations. His structures were notable as well for the great harmony they achieved between interior spaces and the surrounding exterior gardens.

Before his death in 1580, the architect had populated the region around Vicenza and the Veneto (Venice’s mainland possessions) with a number of graceful and harmonious structures. Palladio’s classicism wasres trained and, in contrast to the great Venetian architect Sansovino, he used relatively little ornament. Porticos that made use of the region’s gentle climate were one common feature, as was the so-called Palladian window,a structure in which side columns supported a hemispherical shaped arch. In later years Palladio used his relativelysevere but graceful style in two churches he designedin the city of Venice. Read the rest of this entry

Earliest temples and tombs

Earliest temples and tombs

early egytp tombThe earliest temples and tombs built in Egypt are in Abydos in Middle Egypt. Egyptologists have been aware of these structures sincethe late 1890s. In the roughly 100 years that Egyptologists have discussed these sites, there were differing opinions on whether they were temples, tombs, or forts. Other discussions of them suggested that some of these buildings were cenotaphs, structures built only to honor certain kings but not to house their burials.

Most recently scholars have realized that these buildings represent the earliest royal tombslocated in the section of Abydos called in Arabic Umm el Gaab (“Mother of Pots”) and the earliest cult temples dedicated to deceased kings, located in the section of Abydos called in Arabic Kom es-Sultan (“Mound of the Ruler”) about two kilometers from the tombs. Moreover, the two sets of buildings can be divided into pairs that resemblelater funeral complexes consisting of a burial and a temple where the deceased king was eternally worshipped.

Early  Excavation

One of the first archaeologists to work in Egypt, the Englishman W. M. F. Petrie (1843–1942), excavated some of the earliest temples and tombs. Petrie worked all over Egypt, but during1899–1900 and 1902–1903, he concentrated his efforts on a site in Middle Egypt called Abydos. Several villages are now resident at the site formerly known as Abydos,including the village of Kom es Sultan and the village of Umm el Gaab. Petrie worked first in the village of Ummel Gaab, then two years later at the village of Kom esSultan. At Umm el Gaab Petrie found and identified thecemetery of kings of the First and Second Dynasties (3100–2675 B.C.E.). The underground portion of thesetombs was lined with wood protected by a surrounding wall of mud brick. Read the rest of this entry

Japanese painting modern history

Japanese painting modern history

Prewar period (1868-1945)

prewar japaneseThe prewar period was marked by the division of art into competing European styles and traditional indigenous styles.

During the Meiji period, Japan underwent a tremendous political and social change in the course of the Europeanization and modernization campaign organized by the Meiji government. Western style painting (Yōga) was officially promoted by the government, who sent promising young artists abroad for studies, and who hired foreign artists to come to Japan to establish an art curriculum at Japanese schools.

However, after an initial burst for western style art, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction, and led by art critic Okakura Kakuzo and educator Ernest Fenollosa, there was a revival of appreciation for traditional Japanese styles (Nihonga). In the 1880, western style art was banned from official exhibitions and was severely criticized by critics. Supported by Okakura and Fenollosa, the Nihonga style evolved with influences from the European pre-Raphaelite movement and European romanticism.

The Yōga style painters formed the Meiji Bijutsukai (Meiji Fine Arts Society) to hold its own exhibitions and to promote a renewed interest in western art. In 1907, with the establishment of the Bunten under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, both competing groups found mutual recognition and co-existence, and even began the process towards mutual synthesis.

The Taishō period saw the predominance of Yōga over Nihonga. After long stays in Europe, many artists (including Arishima Ikuma) returned to Japan under reign of Yoshihito, bringing with them the techniques of impressionism and early post-impressionism. The works of Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne and Pierre Auguste Renoir influenced early Taishō period paintings. However, yōga artists in the Taishō period also tended towards eclecticism, and there was a profusion of dissident artistic movements. These included the Fusain Society (Fyuzankai) which emphasized styles of post-impressionism, especially fauvism. In 1914, the Nikakai (Second Division Society) emerged to oppose the government-sponsored Bunten Exihibition.

Japanese painting during the Taishō period was only mildly influenced by other contemporary European movements, such as neoclassicism and late post-impressionism. Read the rest of this entry

Antoni Gaudí

Antoni Gaudí

gaudi Antoni

(1852 – 1926)

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet  (Riudoms or Reus, 25 June 1852 – Barcelona, 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect and the best known representative of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works are marked by a highly individual style and the vast majority of them are situated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, including his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.

Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by the four passions of his life: architecture, nature, religion and his love for Catalonia. Gaudí meticulously studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts, in which he himself was skilled, such as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of the materials, such as his famous trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.

After a few years under the influence of neo-Gothic art, and certain oriental tendencies, Antoni Gaudí became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was then at its peak, towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Gaudí’s work, however, transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style that was inspired by nature without losing the influence of the experiences gained earlier in his career. Rarely did Gaudí draw detailed plans of his works and instead preferred to create them as three-dimensional scale models, moulding all details as he was conceiving them in his mind.

casa-batlloGaudí’s work has widespread international appeal, and there are innumerable studies devoted to his way of understanding architecture. Today he is admired by both professionals and the general public: his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família, is one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Between 1984 and 2005 seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. He awakened to his Roman Catholic faith during his life and many religious images can be seen in his works, a fact which has led to his being nicknamed “God’s Architect” and calls for him to bebeatified.

Gaudí’s first projects were the lampposts he designed for the Plaça Reial in Barcelona, the unfinished Girossi newsstands and the Cooperativa Obrera Mataronense (Workers’ Cooperative of Mataró). He became well known through his first important commission, the Casa Vicens, and subsequently received increasingly more significant requests. At the Paris World Fair in 1878 Gaudí displayed a showcase he had produced for the glove manufacturer Comella. Its modernista design, which was at the same time functional and aesthetic, impressed the Catalan industrialist Eusebi Güell, who later on contacted the architect to request him to carry out various projects he had in mind. This was the starting point of a long friendship and a patronage which bore fruit with some of the most distinguished of Gaudí’s works: the Güell wine cellars, the Güell pavilions, the Palau Güell (Güell palace), the Parc Güell (Güell park) and the crypt of the church of the Colònia Güell. He also became a friend of the marquis of Comillas, the father-in-law of count Güell, for whom he designed “El Capricho” in Comillas.

la Sagrada FamíliaIn 1883 Gaudí accepted responsibility for the recently-initiated works of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, more commonly referred to in English as the Sagrada Família). Antoni Gaudí changed the original project completely, making this his world famous and much-admired masterpiece. From 1915 until his death he devoted himself entirely to this project. Given the number of commissions he began receiving, he had to rely on a professional team to be able to work on various projects simultaneously. His team consisted of professionals from all fields of construction. Several of the architects who worked under him made their own name in the field later on, such as Josep Maria Jujol, Joan Rubió, Cèsar Martinell, Francesc Folguera and Josep Francesc Ràfols. In 1885, Gaudí moved to rural Sant Feliu de Codines to escape thecholera epidemic that was ravaging Barcelona. He lived in Francesc Ullar’s house, for whom he designed a dinner table as a sign of his gratitude

During the Paris exposition in May 1910, Antoni Gaudí spent a holiday in Vic, where he designed two lampposts made of basalt and wrought iron for the Plaça Major of Vic, for Jaume Balmes’s centenary. The following year he was obliged to spend some time in Puigcerdà due to tuberculosis; during this time he conceived the idea for the façade of the Passion of the Sagrada Família. Due to his state of health, on 9 June he made his will at the office of the notary Ramon Cantó i Figueres; but luckily he recovered completely. Read the rest of this entry