Development of architecture history

June 12, 2015
21:05, 13 May 2008

Neoclassical Architecture (1640-1850)

Early Neoclassical Forms

Neoclassicism did not appear overnight. In its early forms (1640-1750), it co-existed with Baroque, and functioned as a corrective style to the latter's more flamboyant excesses. Thus in England, (1632-1723) designed St Paul's Cathedral, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the Royal Chelsea Hospital and the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, in a style which is much more classicist than Baroque, even though he is still classified as a Baroque architect. Other early English Neoclassicist designers included (1573-1652) and William Kent (1685-1748).

Features of Neoclassicism Proper (1750-1850)

A timely support for ancien regimes throughout Europe, from St Petersburg to Vienna, and a model for youthful empires-to-come like the United States of America, Neoclassical art was yet another return to the Classical Orders of Greek and Roman Antiquity. Although, as in the Renaissance, the style retained all the engineering advances and new materials of the modern era. It was characterized by monumental structures, supported or decorated by columns of Doric, Ionic or Corinthian pillars, and topped with classical Renaissance domes. Technical innovations of late 18th century architecture like layered cupolas and inner cores added strength to domes, and their dimensions increased, lending increased grandeur to civic buildings, churches, educational facilities and large private homes.

Neoclassical architecture originated in Paris, largely due to the presence of French designers trained at the French Academy in Rome. Famous French architects included: (1713-80), who designed the Pantheon (1756-97) in Paris; Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), designer of the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans (1773-93) and the Cathedral of Saint-Germaine (1762-64); and Jean Chalgrin, who designed the Arc de Triomphe (1806). In England the tradition was maintained by Paris-trained Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam (1728-92), (1752-1835), Sir John Sloane (1753-1837), William Wilkins (1778-1839) and Sir Robert Smirke (1780-1867). It was quickly adopted by progressive circles in Sweden as well. In Germany, Neoclassical architects included: (1732-1808), designer of the Brandenburg Gate (1789-91) in Berlin; (1781-1841), responsible for the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt (1818-21), the Tegel Palace (1821-4), and the Altes Museum (1823-30), all in Berlin. These two architects transformed the Prussian capital of Berlin to rival Paris or Rome in classical splendour.

Russian Neoclassicism

Rastrelli's Baroque style Russian buildings, like the Winter Palace (1754-62), did not find favour with Catherine the Great (1762-1850), who preferred Neoclassical designs. As a result, she summoned the Scottish architect (c.1745–1812), who built the Pavlovsk Palace (1782-86) near St Petersburg, the Razumovsky Palace in the Ukraine (1802) and the Alexander Palace outside St Petersburg (1812). Other important neoclassical architects for the Russian Czars included: Vincenzo Brenna (Cameron's pupil), Giacomo Quarenghi and Matvey Fyodorovich Kazakov.

American Neoclassicism

The United States Capitol Building, with its neoclassical frontage and dome, is one of America's most recognizable and iconic structures. Begun in 1793, its basic design was the work of (1759-1828), reworked by (1764-1820), Stephen Hallet and (1763-1844). The dome and rotunda were initially built from wood, but later replaced with stone and iron. The overall design was inspired by both the eastern facade of the Louvre Museum in Paris, and by the Pantheon in Rome. Latrobe himself went on to design numerous other buildings in America, in the Neoclassical style including: the Bank of Pennsylvania (1789), Richmond Capitol (1796), the Fairmount Waterworks, Philadelphia (1799), and the Baltimore Exchange (1816), to name but a few. Bulfinch completed the Capitol in the 1820s, setting the template for other state capitols in the process, and then returned to his architectural practice in Boston. A key figure in the development of American architecture during the early 19th century, was the third US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), whose strong preference for neoclassicism, in the design of public buildings, had a strong influence on his contemporaries.

19th Century Architecture

19th-Century architecture in Europe and America witnessed no new important design movements or schools of thought. Instead, there emerged a number of revivals of old styles. These included: The Greek Revival (American followers included Jefferson and Latrobe); the Gothic Revival - led by Viollet-le-Duc in France; American followers included Richard Upjohn (1802-78) and James Renwick (1818-95); a Neo-Romanesque Revival (1849-1880), led by Henry Hobson Richardson; Beaux-Arts architecture - a fusion of neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque forms, practiced by Richard Morris...

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