THE BROCHURE SERIES
OF ARCHITECTURAL ILLUSTRATION.
VOL. I. AUGUST, 1895 No. 8.
FRAGMENTS OF GREEK DETAIL.
The Art of Greece during the fifth century, B.C., was developed in an amazingly short time from a condition of almost archaic rudeness to that of the greatest perfection which the world has ever seen.
At the close of the Persian wars the Athenians, under Pericles, began rebuilding their city and perfecting themselves in all the arts of civilization, and their progress in the next half century will always be a subject for wonder. It is especially wonderful that works of art of the character produced at this time should have been the outcome of political maneuvering: for if Plutarch is to be credited the scheming of Pericles to obtain and hold possession of the government of Athens was the immediate cause of the erection of these marvellous monuments. In order to increase his influence with the common people Pericles devoted the treasure which had been contributed by the other Greek cities for defence against the barbarians to the beautifying of Athens, and to furnishing them with games and amusements, and especially to the erection of the group of temples upon the Acropolis, in this way distributing patronage and keeping his people employed much as a modern political "boss" does the same in our day.
The Parthenon, which is esteemed the grandest of all monuments of Greek art, embodying as it does the highest achievement in sculpture and architecture, was built just after the middle of the fifth century, although the precise date at which it was begun and finished is uncertain. The Erechtheion and Propylaea were probably built a few years later, but their exact dates are also in doubt.
The sculptor, Phidias, was the friend and adviser of Pericles and to him was given the general charge of all matters relating to art. Under him were grouped architects, sculptors, and artisans of all schools and trades—Ictinus and Calicrates as architects of the Parthenon, Mnesicles of the Propylaea, and many others—such an assemblage as only Greece in her most glorious epoch could bring together. The work of this period shows that happy union of technical perfection and the expression of only the loftiest ideas, in which, as Plutarch says, the architect made it his ambition to "surpass the magnificence of his design with the elegance of its execution."
The skill and delicacy as well as the subtle appreciation of refinements of form and finish exhibited in the treatment of details such as those shown in our plates are almost beyond comprehension. The workmanship is so perfect that it is difficult to see how it could be improved upon. Stuart, in his account of the Parthenon, states that he found two stones, one merely laid upon the other in the stylobate of this building, which had been ground to so fine a joint that they had actually united and become one. The refinements in measurements are such that it has been asserted that a variation of one twentieth of an inch from the dimensions intended is all that need be allowed—the width of the two ends of the building agreeing to within this amount. The entasis of columns and curvature of what would ordinarily be straight lines is familiar to all students of architecture.
Photographs of Greek architecture are by no means common or easy to obtain, and the subjects given as illustrations of the present issue of THE BROCHURE SERIES are presented, not as in the preceding numbers, either all from a single building, or of similar features from several buildings, but merely as fragments of detail, representing the period of Greek art when architecture and sculpture had reached their highest development.
CAPITAL FROM THE PARTHENON, ATHENS.
The Parthenon of Pericles was built on the site of an older temple as a treasury, and repository of the colossal statue of Athena, made by Phidias from gold and ivory. The Doric order, the capital of which is shown in our plate, needs no description here as probably no other single order is so generally known. After various transformations the building was blown up by the Venetians in 1687 and has since remained in ruins.
CAPITAL FROM THE ERECHTHEION, ATHENS.
BASE FROM THE ERECHTHEION, ATHENS.
CAP OF ANTA FROM THE ERECHTHEION, ATHENS.
The Ionic order of the Erechtheion is the one which is best known and has been most frequently copied and adapted in modern work. It is at the same time the richest and most delicately refined of the Greek Ionic orders, and this is equivalent to saying of all orders whatsoever. This order of which the cap and base are given in our plates belongs to the north porch. There were two other fronts to the building which was, to all intents and purposes, three temples united in one. The famous caryatid porch faces the south, looking toward the Parthenon.
FRAGMENT FROM SOUTH SIDE OF ACROPOLIS, ATHENS.
Although this fragment was found at some distance from the Erechtheion it is without much doubt a portion of that building.
CAPITAL FROM THE PROPYLAEA, ATHENS.
The Propylaea, or gate to the Acropolis, was built at about the same time as the Parthenon, between the years 436 and 431 B.C. It combines the Doric and Ionic orders, but both are most skilfully used with equal grace and nobleness of proportion.
FRAGMENT OF CYMA FROM THE THOLOS AT EPIDAUROS.
The Tholos of Polykletos at Epidauros was a circular building 107 feet in diameter, situated within the sacred enclosure. It had two concentric rows of columns, the exterior order being Doric, and the interior Ionic, but with Corinthian caps of the design shown in plate LXIV.
CAP FROM THE THOLOS AT EPIDAUROS.
The two fragments shown are the result of recent excavations and are among the most beautiful examples of Greek detail extant.
The writer of "The Point of View" in Scribner's Magazine recently called attention to the distinction between what he calls "cultivation" and "civilization." As he very aptly states it, "culture according to the common acceptance of it, is largely the cultivation of the mind; civilization would seem to be the cultivation of the sympathies, the tastes, and the capacity for giving and receiving sound pleasures. The most civilized man is the man with the most catholic appreciation, the man who can be the most things to the most people—the man, to put it briefly, who knows best how to live. The man who is civilized can use all the culture he can get, but he can get on and still be civilized with a very moderate outfit of it. But the man who has culture and has not civilization, is very badly handicapped."
Probably no walk of life offers more opportunities for the advantageous application of what is meant in this quotation by civilization than that of the architect; and probably in no other profession does the "civilized" man have greater advantages over his less civilized fellows.
The successful architect requires a broad and catholic culture, but in addition must be a man of the world in the best and most comprehensive sense. Opportunities for social improvement will often make the difference between success and failure in his professional life. On this account too much stress can hardly be put upon the importance to a young man of his social environment.
The life in an old university set in the midst of a community where the traditions of generations of cultivated families have established a social atmosphere, it might be said, is one of the best and most powerful civilizing influences. Such an opportunity as this is offered at Harvard, and it is this which gives to the architectural course at Harvard its main advantage over that of other schools in this country.
The department itself is comparatively young, having only just completed its second year. It is under the direction of the faculty of the Lawrence Scientific School, one of the principal schools of the University.
Its special corps of instructors consists of Prof. H. Langford Warren assisted by Messrs. George F. Newton and John W. Bemis. In addition to this, lectures and instruction are given by members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes the faculty of the Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard College and the Graduate School, among whom are Prof. Charles Eliot Norton, Prof. White, Prof. Greenough, Prof. Moore, Prof. Hollis and others.
Although students in this department do much of their work in rooms specially provided for them, in their general studies and lectures they are associated with the other students of the University and thus reap the advantages coming from such association.
Throughout, it has been the purpose in this school, to treat architecture as a fine art and not merely as the science of construction, and to this end instruction in the general history of the Fine Arts and practice in design are made the central features about which the other studies are grouped.
The course as laid out is intended to cover four years, and may be supplemented by post-graduate work; while on the other hand a large part of the general studies may be anticipated by students of the College who wish to take the professional studies after completing the usual course in the college proper. Especial stress is laid upon educating the taste and discrimination of the student, and association with cultivated men and familiarity with the best efforts of the past, are the two most important influences to this end.
Mr. C. D. Maginnis, recently returned from abroad, and who has for several years been in the office of Mr. E. M. Wheelwright, city architect, has opened an office at 27 School Street, Boston. He is prepared to do all kinds of architectural drawing, in pen, pencil, or water color, and will work up competition drawings and sketches.
Mr. W. H. Kilham, Mr. E. P. Dana, and several others have recently been added to the working force of Messrs. Winslow & Wetherell, whose office is now the largest in Boston.
Mr. W. T. Partridge, who has for several years been with Messrs. Eames & Young, in St. Louis, has severed his connection with them and will probably return to the East.
The summer work of the Sketch Club of New York has been laid out to include sketching trips in the outlying neighborhood of New York City. On alternate Saturdays members of the Club meet at one of the piers and take a small steam yacht to points along the East River and Long Island Sound, spending the Sunday in sketching. On the intermediate Sundays, rambles through West Chester occupy those who are disposed to join in the excursions. These trips are laid out to include the time from July 13 to September 28.
The competition of the Chicago Architectural Club upon the subject "Picturesque Chicago," closes September 2, and the club begins its regular year's work on that date with an exhibition of the sketches submitted in this competition together with other work of the summer.
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The illustration which we give on another page, of a gala night of the "P. D." club will appeal to the many friends of the P. D.'s who are distributed from end to end of the country. The descriptive article by one of the members which is begun in this number will also give an indication to those who are not already familiar with this organization, of its character and purpose. That a combination of serious work and relaxation can be reconciled without sacrificing the former, has been demonstrated in this case, for the P. D.'s are the mainstay of the Boston Architectural Club and have accomplished considerable in other directions, having done very notable work in several of the Beaux-Arts Society's competitions. Their motto and seal shown in the other illustration is a remarkable example of impromptu decoration.
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The August 22 issue of the Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects contains a description of the School of Architecture and Applied Arts of University College, Liverpool, and an address by Mr. T. G. Jackson, the well-known English architect and author, delivered at the inauguration of the school on May 10 last. Special provisions are made for courses in Architecture, Sculpture and Modelling, Decorative Painting, Wrought Iron Work, and Wood Carving, accompanying theoretical instruction with actual work in the studios and shops.
Mr. Jackson's remarks are worthy careful attention and will be found as valuable to American students as to those to whom they were addressed. His opinions upon the study of architectural history are interesting in connection with the views of the American writers to which we referred last month. He says: "The reverence with which we have been taught to regard old work has misled us into a slavish worship of precedent, and an abject craving for authority by which to shape our own work. Close imitation of old work has been regarded as the only safe course, deceptive imitation of it the highest measure of success."...
"Above all it should be the student's object to discover the principles of design by which the successive styles were governed, and in tracing their history he should trace the influence of circumstance and accident, which modify the current art of the day.... The history of architecture, and the development of style out of style, should never be taught without incessant reference to the constructional methods which were employed, and which played the principal part in the changes resulting from their employment."
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Apropos of the perennial discussion of the question of professional ethics which from time to time comes into prominence in the meetings of the American Institute of Architects the following may be of interest. It is appended to the card of a certain architect which is published as an advertisement in a local paper and reads: "Any kind of architectural work promptly attended to and satisfaction guaranteed."
In the resolutions recently adopted by the Boston Society of Architects concerning professional ethics it was maintained that architects should not advertise. The advertisement above may savor somewhat of its surroundings (above it a hair renewer is advertised and below it penny-royal pills) and suggest too much the "shoes tapped while you wait" order of advertising, but we fail to see why architects should be restrained from advertising if there are any benefits to be derived from it. And for our part we think that there are few architects whose business or practice might not be improved by judicious advertising. It is easy to lay down an arbitrary dictum and say that no professional man shall advertise, but what argument can apply to architects in this respect that does not equally apply to civil engineers and to landscape architects? And no one objects to the advertisements of the latter. The publication of architects' designs in the professional journals is in many cases advertising, pure and simple, but is not on this account to be condemned. The truth of the matter is that the exact point where advertising begins and ends is impossible to determine. One kind of advertising is considered allowable and dignified, another is not. In consequence there is opportunity for many differences of opinion.
The "P. D.'s."
If Chimmie Fadden were asked to translate the letters P. D., he would undoubtedly answer, "What 'ell?" and it must be acknowledged that this answer does credit to Chames's insight; but at the same time we feel sure that Chames would not be offended if he were informed that his favorite expression is not nearly such an appropriate definition of P. D. as it is of the play of Madame Sans Gene, all rumors to the contrary notwithstanding And if Chames could be induced to give up for the while his everlasting search for a bull pup, we might proceed to inform him to the best of our ability what it really does mean.
"The Lord gives good meat but the devil sends cooks," but Chames apparently lending a willing ear, we take his life in our hands, and firstly:—
And that is, that P. D. is not an abbreviation for Poor Debtors, as some would have it, but for Poor Draughtsmen; which is after all, perhaps, a distinction without a difference.
Poor in this case has no reference to the quality of the draughtsmen's work, for, as our song truly says,—
"The P. D. is a man Who does the best he can, No matter what the problem it may be. He can draw a quarter scale, He can draw a full detail, And draw his pay upon a Saturdee."
The club, for such it is, was at first overburdened with the name of The Poor Draughtsmen's Saturday Night Club, but the member who wrote the specification of the club, started in by writing the name and then proceeded as follows: "The name of the club shall be the above (it is too long to write again)." The hint was taken and it has since been known as the P. D.'s.
The club resulted from the more or less accidental coming together of men of congenial spirit, and the desire to cultivate each other's acquaintance more intimately than was possible in the larger Architectural Club of which they are all members, and over which are their club rooms.
The work of fitting up these rooms was done by the members themselves, and an added interest is given them by the constantly changing exhibitions on their walls. The bulletin board is also a never-ending source of delight.
The club at present consists of thirteen members, all of whom on entering it, as a sort of architectural baptism, receive new names, and, ye gods, what names!
What more is to be desired when one may, when he dines or designs, touch elbows with such choice spirits as Ictinus, Michael Angelo, Vitruvius, Vignola, Piranesi, San Gallo, Bramante, Christopher Wren, Inigo Jones, Charles Bulfinch, Viollet le Duc, Gamier Freres (N.B.—There is only one of him), and Brian Boru.
The one requirement for admission is good fellowship with the saving clause, that this good fellowship, like Faith, must be accompanied by good works.
Its organization is of the simplest character, there being no constitution or rules of any kind, except the joke known as the specification be regarded as such. Much of the charm of the club is due to this absolute freedom from restraint.
The officers are the president, treasurer, and secretary, who manage the affairs of the club during their term of office. Each member presides in turn, the term of office being one month, the succession being arranged by lot.
A well-known writer deplores the lack of humor in the fiction of the day, and the tendency of those who should know better, to constantly preach us sermons upon our least admirable failings.
Alas! it is not fiction alone that has taken to the pulpit, for Architecture has also its preachers, and our journals are loaded with their sermons, which fortunately for architecture, very few ever read.
While acknowledging the fact that a little seriousness now and then may be relished by even a P. D., a good hearty laugh is the one thing in this dreary old world of ours that they most appreciate. No one realizes more thoroughly than they that,—
"Care to our coffin adds a nail, no doubt, And every grin so jolly draws one out."
The principal object of the members, then, is to amuse themselves. The club is not intended as a workroom, but as our P. D. poet expresses it, a place where,—
"Freed from the fret of routine's slavish toil, They meet once more in freedom's jollity. No thought of care comes to them now to spoil The merry jest, the gay frivolity."
Nevertheless they have found time for much serious work, but inasmuch as work is said to speak for itself, we will confine our attention to some of the things by means of which the members have passed many happy hours.
Upon entering the club the member not only receives a new name, but his biography containing more or less of the truth about him is written and placed in the records. A song is also composed in his honor, and on festal occasions he is greeted with it upon his entrance.
Perhaps the greatest event of the year is the annual dinner, or the "Centurial Dinner" as it is called, from the very general conviction that "Better one year with the P. D.'s than a cycle of Cathay." Every one is supposed to do something for this occasion, but he is given perfect liberty as to what he shall do, and he may answer, for instance, the toast of The Architecture of the Greeks with an essay on The Use and Abuse of the Cocktail, with the assurance that his consistency will not be doubted.
The menu card is usually of sufficient interest to furnish amusement until the actual hostilities begin. Upon each guest at this dinner is conferred the honorary title of "Draughtsman."
The installation of a new president, which occurs monthly, is also the occasion of much mirth, as are also the departures for or the arrivals from Europe of members.
But no matter how closely these events follow each other, one can depend upon each of them being distinctly different; and after one has attended a score or so of them he begins to wonder when this versatility will end and they will begin to repeat themselves.
Notwithstanding the unvaried success of these affairs, none of them have been attended with more than a slight expenditure of time or money.
In decorating the rooms the same old articles have been made to do service any number of times, but always in such a manner as to obtain an entirely different effect.
Many of the best things in this line have been done on the spur of the moment. The club seal, for instance, was thrown together in a few minutes, some one in the meantime looking up an appropriate motto, the occasion being an impromptu festival of Gambrinus, which occurred one Christmas eve.
At another time a wonderful chandelier was constructed of a stretcher, a Chinese lantern, and twenty beer bottles, which were utilized to hold candles, and a placard on each told that they were manufactured by the P. D. Electric Co. and were each of one candle power; the whole being draped with some brilliantly dyed stuffs that had served as costumes at the Art Students' Festival.
(To be continued.)