|Vol. I.||September, 1895.||No. 9.|
The pulpits and ambos chosen for the illustrations in this issue of The Brochures are mainly interesting for their wonderful mosaic decorations which are among the finest of their kind which have ever been executed. The work of the family of Cosmati, by whose name the Roman mosaic or inlay of this description is known, such as that in plate LXXI, is similar in design and method of execution to that shown in the other plates. There is one point, however, in which the Roman work is quite different. In Sicily and southern Italy the bands and borders of geometrical patterns are largely made up of glass or composition, while the Cosmati confined themselves to the use of colored marbles. In the south, and particularly in Sicily, gold is freely used, but this is lacking in the work of the Cosmati. As a result of this difference in material a wider range of color is possible in the southern mosaics than in those of Rome; and this is especially noticeable in the use of blues, which give much of the character to the beautiful examples shown in our plates, which we regret we cannot reproduce in color. The altar, pulpit, and bishop's throne in the churches of SS. Nerone ed Achille and S. Cesario in Rome may be taken as additional examples.
This is a form of decoration which may be found in many of the Byzantine churches of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and also in the Tuscan churches of the same epoch, notably in the Baptistery at Pisa and in the church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence.
The mosaic floors, dados, and solid railings of the Palermitan monuments all seem to belong to this class: a ground of gray or white marble slabs with large panels of colored marble, mosaic bands of geometrical pattern let into the marble, and sometimes a plain framework of one member with a carved row of conventional leaves. In Palermo a grayish veined Greek marble similar to that used in Venice and Ravenna was almost exclusively used as a background. It formed a most admirable setting for the inlaid marble mosaics which were laid in rebated panels in the marble slabs, making a perfectly smooth surface. In the floor mosaics green serpentine and red or purple porphyry are the usual colors besides the gray, while brighter reds, gold, blues, white, and a variety of other glasses (smalti) are employed with the serpentine and porphyry in the mosaics on walls, pulpits, and screens.
In all of the work referred to above, the separate pieces of marble or glass are carefully shaped to fit the patterns they are intended to form, and in this respect differ from the Byzantine and other wall mosaics, and from the earlier Roman mosaic pavements such as those which are familiar in the Pompeiian buildings. In the latter the shape and often the size of the pieces making up the pattern were of comparatively little importance, and the pieces were imbedded in a matrix which filled up the interstices and gave a background of neutral color.
The marble pavements, made up of discs, squares, and other geometrical forms of colored marbles surrounded by bands or borders of a smaller scale, were similar in design to some of the mosaics shown in our plates. This work is known as Opus Alexandrinum and is familiar from the pavements of St. Mark's and the church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice.
The Capella Palatina was built and dedicated to St. Peter by King Roger the Second of Sicily. It must have been begun soon after Roger's coronation, and was finished in the year 1143.
It is of the same period as the cloister of Monreale, which was described and illustrated in the March number of The Brochure Series; and the work here shown distinctly recalls the mosaics upon the twisted columns in this cloister.
The interior is famous as one of the most beautiful works of color decoration extant. Its general tone is bluish green with mosaic walls and floor and a wooden ceiling decorated in tempera with cufic inscriptions. It is scantily lighted with small windows, giving a rather sombre effect. The best mosaics are in the chancel and apses.
The beautiful ambo is one of its most attractive features. The famous candelabrum of five tiers of figures, at the projecting angle, is of white marble.
Salerno and Ravello were both included under the Norman rule of the kingdom of Naples and Sicily in the eleventh century, and the work here shown all belongs to the Norman period.
The Cathedral of Salerno was founded and dedicated to St. Matthew in 1084 by Robert Guiscard, who plundered the temples of Paestum of their marbles and sculptures to embellish it.
The two pulpits and that in the choir in front of the archbishop's throne, which are said to have been executed by order of John of Procida, are fine examples of the rich mosaic work of the period. The two large pulpits are placed in the nave, before the choir, which here has retained its original position in front of the high altar. Stairs opening out of the choir, finely decorated in mosaic, lead to each pulpit. In front of the larger one on the right is a fine Paschal candelabrum, decorated in mosaic. The pulpit itself is supported on twelve granite columns, while the four supports of the opposite ambo are the very rare black porphyry called Porfido Nero-Bianco. The raised space between is paved in Opus Alexandrinum.
The Cathedral at Ravello, dedicated to S. Pantaleo, was founded by Niccolo Rufolo, Duke of Sora and grand admiral under Count Roger of Sicily.
The marble pulpit, or Gospel ambo, inlaid with mosaics, was built, according to a Latin inscription which it bears, in the year 1272, at the cost of Niccolo Rufolo, a descendant of the grand admiral. Another inscription records the fact that it was the work of Nicholas, the son of Bartolommeus of Foggia.
The Epistle ambo, situated on the opposite side of the church from the main pulpit, is of earlier date than the latter. The mosaics represent on one side Jonah being swallowed by the whale, and on the other his being ejected. It bears the name of Costantino Rogadeo, the second bishop of Ravello, and probably dates from about 1130.
The church of San Giovanni del Toro also dates from the time of King Roger. The story of Jonah will be seen again depicted here.
The Basilica of S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura was originally only an oratory over the Catacombs of S. Cyriaca, and was said to have been founded by Constantine about A.D. 330. It was enlarged and partly rebuilt in the fifth and sixth centuries, and in 1216 was again remodeled by Honorius III, who built the present long nave and its portico, raised the chancel, and filled up with rubbish the lower church. It is thus a grand collection of details of various periods, but all of much interest.
Its two ambos stand on each side of the raised portion of the floor which corresponds to the choir in the Basilica of Honorius. The Gospel was chanted from the one on the south side with the reading desk turned towards the choir; and the Epistle from the one on the north, with a single desk towards the high altar. Before the Gospel ambo is a fine mosaic candelabrum standing on a Roman cippus reversed, having an olive branch and birds sculptured on it.
The pavement as well as the work upon these two ambos is in the style of the Cosmati.
The Cathedral (S.M. Nuova) was founded by Count Roger in 1098, and was finished by his son Roger. The interior is 305 feet in length, and is a Latin cross with three aisles, separated by twenty-six columns of Egyptian granite said to have been taken from the temple of Neptune at Faro; they have gilt Corinthian capitals. The roof is of wood and is a restoration by King Manfred of an ancient roof burned in 1254 at the funeral of Conrad, son of Emperor Frederick II, the canopy over the corpse having been so high that the lights by which it was crowned set fire to the rafters. The three apses are filled with fine mosaics.
The pulpit of white marble is attributed to Gogini, and the font near it to Gaddo Gaddi of Florence.
The publishers of The Brochure Series will give three prizes, valued at $5.00 each, for the best three designs for a full-page advertisement of the Boynton Furnace Co. These prizes will be:—
The authors of the best designs may have their choice of any of these three prizes. A prize will be awarded for the best design received on or before November 30, 1895. A second prize for the best design received after November 20, and on or before December 10, 1895. A third prize for the best design received after November 30, and on or before December 20, 1895.
It is probable that all acceptable designs will be used, in which case payment will be made, the amount of which will be determined by correspondence with the author; and all designs not accepted will be returned to the authors.
The advertisements of the Boynton Furnace Co. may be referred to for material, and the following data can be drawn upon:—
The net size of the space allowed for advertisement is 5½ inches wide and 8 inches high. No restriction upon the design is made, except that it shall not go beyond these dimensions. Drawings must be made one half larger than the advertisement would be. They are not to bear the designer's name, or any distinguishing device, but a sealed envelope containing his name and address is to be securely attached to the back of the drawing, or of each drawing should a designer submit two or more. They must be in black ink upon white paper, and sent postpaid to the Editor of The Brochure Series, 6 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass.
The designing of effective architectural advertisements presents a good field for draughtsmen to cultivate. In both The Brochure Series and the Architectural Review a considerable quantity of such work could be used if it were the right kind. The publishers are in hopes this competition will bring out designs that will serve as a guide to securing special work for which there is a more or less constant demand. If this competition proves successful in bringing out the proper kind of material, others will be arranged for in future, and larger prizes offered.
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The placing in position of the great decorative wall painting of Puvis de Chavannes in the Boston Public Library again directs public attention to this remarkable building. To us this last addition to the architectural work (for every feature of the building, whether constructional, utilitarian, or purely decorative, is architectural in the sense of forming an essential part of an otherwise incomplete composition) is the one feature thus far introduced which does most to bind together the varying elements in the decorative scheme of the interior. It occupies the most important position in the building, at the head of the monumental staircase, and forms not only a centre of interest aesthetically, but serves as a connecting link between the other features, which have before seemed more or less unrelated. The grand staircase, built of Siena marble, the finest example of the intelligent use of colored marble in this country, has until now lacked its foil, which the dull blue walls now give. The added pleasure which is apparent in viewing the stairway emphasizes the importance of the guiding intelligence which has made all this possible. There is in our experience only one other building in the country in the interior treatment of which this intelligence is evident in anything like the same degree. The house built by Messrs. McKim, Mead, and White for Mr. Henry Villard is the most completely satisfying residence we have ever seen, and its success is due to the element of restraint shown throughout, and to the harmony between its parts. There are other houses in which may be found just as effective single features, but there is some discordant note which destroys the harmony. The Library is not an expensive building; its single features may, with the exception of the staircase, be equaled in beauty by many other buildings in this country, but no other can compare with it in the sense of complete satisfaction which it awakens on account of this harmony of parts.
We have pointed out only the harmony in color, which of course in itself is of secondary importance, and if it were not accompanied by intelligent harmony of plan, and treatment of detail in proportion and scale could not make the composition a satisfactory one. The question of decorative color treatment comes up at this time because of the surprising effect which the addition of a little patch of colored wall makes in the whole interior. Even the uneducated, superficial observer is impressed with the feeling of completeness and thoughtful intention in everything connected with the building.
The object of this competition was not to secure designs for pianos at the least possible cost, as is the object of many competitions in design, but merely to attract the attention of designers to this special problem, and take one more step towards a better condition of things in the piano business. The Henry F. Miller Co. have for several years followed a policy the results of which are seen in some of their later designs. It has been the practice to turn special cases over to furniture and cabinet makers, entailing an expense that has been practically prohibitory for all but the richest clients architects have. The Miller piano factory has been equipped with every facility for executing work from architects' special designs and within a reasonable cost. The prizes have been offered in the most liberal spirit, and while a large number of the designs submitted were unsatisfactory, they have been instructive and their shortcomings will be borne in mind in preparing the program of another competition, with larger prizes, which will shortly be announced in The Brochure Series.
Seventy-five designs were submitted, several of which arrived too late to be entered. The drawings were very carefully examined by the officers of the company, assisted by Mr. C. Howard Walker, and the following awards were made:—
First prize, $25, A.B. Le Boutillier, Boston; second prize, $15, Edward F. Maher, Boston; third prize, $10, James C. Green, Brooklyn, N.Y.
In judging the designs for piano cases, the element of economy, though recognized, played but a small part in the decision of the judges. The qualities which made the premiated designs superior to others, were those of refinement, beauty of line, and of general proportions.
A piano case presents, necessarily, but restricted opportunity for design, and any attempt at great novelty is apt to be disastrous; if originality appears, it will be in the smaller details.
There also exists the question of style, which is determined largely by the character of the room in which the piano is to be placed, and yet, if the element of style is forced too far, it prevents the use of the design for any but one case.
Of the premiated designs those placed first and second are in distinct styles, the one having almost the character of François I, the other being of the time of the Empire. Both, however, are simple and could be placed in rooms of other styles of architecture.
The first prize design is especially commended for the disposition of its ornament, and the delicate but vigorous lines of the bracket beneath the keyboard, or what is technically called the "truss."
The design placed second has excellent proportioning of panels and Empire ornament in excellent relative scale, well disposed.
The design placed third is a most direct development of the requirements, and is a very simple, practicable design with good proportions and lines.
The three remaining designs published were considered worthy of mention, each in its own way. The Gothic design could be made very rich and interesting with panel colored decoration. The upper portion is well proportioned, the lower portion somewhat too meagre. The Colonial design is interesting above the keyboard; the arches below the "trusses" are out of scale. The Baroque design would depend for its good or bad quality entirely upon the delicacy and skill with which the carving was done. Both the Gothic and Baroque designs could only be used in rooms of their own respective styles.
It is encouraging to note that a new accession to the already imposing list of architectural clubs has been made so early in the season by the organization of a club in Detroit.
On Monday, September 16, thirty-five draughtsmen met at the Detroit Museum of Art and effected a temporary organization of the Detroit Architectural Sketch Club, Emil Lorch being elected Chairman and Alex. Blumberg Secretary. A committee, consisting of W.E.N. Hunter, R. Mildner, and G.H. Ropes, was appointed to draw up a Constitution and By-laws.
The report of this committee was adopted at the second meeting, on September 25, and the following officers and directors elected: President, Emil Lorch; Vice-President, G.H. Ropes; Secretary, E.A. Schilling; Treasurer, R. Mildner; Directors, W.E.N. Hunter, F.G. Baxter, and Alex. Blumberg.
The object of the Club and its proposed methods of study are like those of similar organizations elsewhere.
Few of the existing clubs have started under better auspices, and fewer still could count as many members at their inception.
A number of the other clubs have begun early in the systematic work of the year. The Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Chicago clubs in particular are starting with unusual vigor and promise. Our next issue will have more detailed account of these plans for the future.
Architecture for General Readers: A Short Treatise on the Principles and Motives of Architectural Design. With an Historical Sketch. By H. Heathcote Statham, Fellow of the Institute of Architects, Editor of The Builder. With Scribner's Sons. 1895.
This work is, as its title indicates, a popular handbook of the principles of architecture, and furnishes what has hitherto been practically inaccessible to general readers—a concise explanation of what architecture really means.
The greater part of the work is devoted to the explanation of the theory of design and construction and the general principles in their simpler applications. The subject of ornament including the use of mouldings, sculpture, and plain surfaces, is taken up, and architectural working drawings are explained.
The historical sketch is excellent, although in this direction there is not the same lack of good handbooks as in the theoretical field. The analysis is clear and more easily comprehended than is usual in such treatises.
To an architect a convenient drawing table is one of the most important requirements. There are many devices made to meet this requirement, but none have proved more useful or given more general satisfaction than the "Seldis," furnished by Messrs. Frost & Adams, 37 Cornhill, Boston. The special advantages of this table are many, but among them is the fact that the draughtsman can work in a natural position, as the board can be adjusted, so that all parts may be easily reached. Any board can be used and it will not tip over, and being self-locking will remain in any position, and can be adjusted in height to suit the draughtsman. When not in use it can be folded to occupy the same length and width as an ordinary drawing-board. Descriptive circulars will be sent upon application by Messrs. Frost & Adams.
Messrs. Dexter Bros., of 55 Broad Street, Boston, are adopting a very effective method of advertising their English Shingle Stains. We have already referred to their collection of photographic prints published under the title of "Some Houses Near Boston." The illustration on this page is reduced from one of the plates in this collection. They have followed this with an even more attractive pamphlet showing Kennebunkport houses, on which their stains have been used, and they have a third collection in preparation, illustrating Bar Harbor houses. Either of the first two will be sent to any reader of The Brochure Series upon receipt of a two-cent stamp, and due notice of the issue of the collection of Bar Harbor houses will be given in these columns. As Dexter Bros.' Stains are used by leading architects throughout the country they have plenty of subjects to choose from in each publication, thus enabling them to publish work that is architecturally interesting. This raises the character of their advertising above the ordinary trade level. Usually publications representing the buildings in which a certain material is used, show good, bad, and indifferent architecture, the good being present in small quantity. The Dexter Bros.' collections show intelligent discrimination, and it is this one thing that makes them worthy of notice.
All who are in any way interested in suburban architecture will find these pamphlets worth sending for. They should have a wide circulation, for they have more than an advertising value.
Byzantine-Romanesque Doorways In Southern Italy
2. Byzantine-Romanesque Windows In Southern Italy
3. Cloister At Monreale Near Palermo Sicily
4. Fragments Of Greek Detail
5. Pulpits of Southern Italy
6. Two Florentine Pavements