The 18th and 19th Centuries


 

 



Neoclassicism and Romanticism

 



(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)
 





Gothic Revival


 

 


James Wyatt

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin

Sir George Gilbert Scott

Heinrich von Ferstel

Friedrich von Schmidt

Henri Labrouste

Eugene Viollet-le-Duc


 





A Return to the Past

 

 

 

During a hundred-year period that began in the late 18th century, artists
returned, once again, to an exploration of the styles of earlier times. This
was not a revival of classical or Renaissance an but of the medieval art
that had been practiced until the advent of 15th-century Florentine art. It
represented a certain reluctance to search for new, modern forms.
 

 
The 19th century was to see a profusion of revived styles, the predominant one being the Neo-Gothic. It originated in England during the 18th century in a quest for the picturesque, and it manifested itself in various ways in different countries. The troubadour style appeared in France between 1780 and 1820, inspired by the myths of chivalry. More specific types of revivalism were the Neo-Romanesque and 15th-century Florentine styles.
 

 


Reviving Medieval Styles


The development of these revivals in Europe may be understood partly as an expression of nationalistic feeling, for it represented a nostalgic return to long-forgotten or neglected forms of art. In Germany and England, the Gothic tradition constituted a continuation rather than a revival, with artists showing a greater understanding of the historical weight of the style and reworking it from a romantic point of view. In contrast to the Neoclassicism that had had such a profound effect on art, the Neo-Rococo style was reintroduced by the Goncourt brothers (who wrote The Art of the 18th Century, 1859—65) and practised by painters such as Tassaert and Roqueplan. The French Renaissance architectural style of the Loire chateaux was re-adopted, as was the Henry II furniture style. In 1850, Leon de Laborde (1807-69), an aristocratic historian, politician, explorer, Louvre curator, and amateur photographer, proclaimed his nationalistic vision of the French Renaissance in his Renaissance of the Arts at the French Court.
It was a time of rationalism and enlightenment, and, in England, the Industrial Revolution, antiquity, the Christian Middle Ages, and the Renaissance all came to be regarded as golden ages of the past that could be looked back upon as Utopian examples. Rushing to the rescue of art - a victim of the degeneration and corruption of its time -were artistic brotherhoods such as the French Primitives, the German Nazarenes, the Italian Purists, and the English Pre-Raphaelites, who all harked back to former traditions in order to give true meaning to their work.



The Neo-Gothic


The Neo-Gothic or Gothic Revival took various forms in different parts of Europe. In England, one of its earliest manifestations was in the landscape garden. Here, from the first half of the 18th century, without any pretence of faithful imitation, Greek temples. Chinese pagodas. Gothic buildings, and artificial ruins were placed side by side. In 1799, Ercole Silva, the Milanese author of The Art of the English Garden, wrote that ruins such as these "recall past times and arouse a feeling of compassion mingled with melancholy." The ruin became a relic that could evoke a lost past. An element of the picturesque contributed to the birth of the Gothic Revival, in that art no longer adopted the classical principles of beauty but was rather aiming to produce thoughts and feelings through powers of suggestion. In reaction to the Palladian formality of Jones Inigo (1573-1652) and the Baroque classicism of Sir Christopher Wren  (1632-1723), whose St Paul's Cathedral in London was completed in 1711, the man of letters Horace Walpole (1717-97) laid out the garden of his country villa just outside London at Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, in a mixed style of Rococo and Gothic. Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto (1764), made liberal use of architectural structures that lacked any historical authenticity, and in so doing created a setting that would fire the imagination and conjure up the atmosphere of distant times. Between 1796 and 1813, James Wyatt (1748-1813) built the residence of Fonthill Abbey for the eccentric William Beckford. This constituted an extraordinary Gothic spectacle of immense proportions, which ended up falling apart during a single night in 1825.
Reaction against such wild fantasies in stone, typical of many of the earlier buildings, came from architects such as Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78), who brought scrupulous precision to their work in the Gothic Revival style. The Neo-Gothic style was also widely used in smaller, more mundane buildings. A variety of country houses were built in this style, their plans taking into consideration any irregularities in the terrain. Perfectly adapted to their surroundings, such homes, with their lavish use of many materials and meticulous interior decoration, suited the needs of the new middle-class owners. From 1840, the classical design of the compact, regularly proportioned house was almost wholly superseded. In Germany, the revival of figurative Gothic culture seemed to be affected by anti-French sentiments. The restoration of Marienburg Castle, the old seat of the Order of Teutonic Knights; of Cologne Cathedral, absolute symbol of High Gothic in its full splendour; and of the monuments on the Rhine appeared to signify a return to native roots. Similarly, the celebrations of the tercentenary of the death of Albrecht Durer in 1828 set the triumphant seal on the Gothic
Revival. The medieval revival was hailed by younger generations and received the official sanction of philosophers and poets. In 1772, the young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), a law student at Strasbourg, wrote an essay on German art and dedicated it to the memory of Erwin von Steinbach, one of the builders of Strasbourg Cathedral. Goethe viewed Gothic architecture as embodying the noblest human aspirations and quest for eternity. Friedrich Schlegel. an admirer of Greek civilization, turned to late Christian medieval art around 1790 and was converted to Catholicism, Novalis, in his essay "Die Christenheit oder Europa" ("Christianity or Europe"), written in 1799 but published posthumously in 1826, 27 years after his death), perceived in medieval Christianity a lost Europe united by faith and love. In Munich, Georg Joseph Ritter von Hauberrisser (1841-1922) built the resplendent Rathaus (1867-74); the castles of Ludwig of Bavaria revived the Gothic culture of myths and legends, through which the eccentric Ludwig escaped the contemporary world. In Vienna, new Gothic buildings included the Votivkirche (1855) of Heinrich von Ferstel (1828-83) and the Rathaus (1872) of Friedrich von Schmidt (1825-91). In Italy, the return to the medieval reflected the rise of nationalism, and the move towards Italian unification. Work was resumed on Milan Cathedral and the facade of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Pietro Selvatico (1803-80), theoretician, militant critic, architect, and a passionate defender of Primitive art, was commissioned in 1862 to study a project for a "complete restoration" of the Gothic palace of Piacenza. This was a typical example of an attempt by a former great city to reaffirm its own urban identity through the presence of Neo-Gothic architecture. It became the ensign of a city's independence, and as such the monumental cemetery of Pisa, the cathedral of Orvieto, and the Gothic monuments of Venice were all depicted in historical paintings and in the works of foreign artists. In France, the Neo-Gothic style took on the guise of a sentimental and political movement, in which the monarchy identified itself with its glorious medieval past. The architects who built in the medieval manner were also those who were restoring the churches damaged over time and in revolutions. The notion of repairing cathedrals and abbeys was associated with a form of national identity that went hand in hand with Catholicism. Henri Labrouste (1801-75) and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79) stimulated theoretical study of the Gothic, by confronting the challenge of combining the Gothic Revival with new building techniques and materials. For Viollet-le-Duc, the cathedral became an organic unity, which he once described as a panelled structure supported by a skeleton of ribs. For his successors it became a structure of glass supported by a skeleton of metal. Thus, in the various 19th-century revivals, romantic nostalgia for the past mixed with enthusiasm for the present. Gothic boldness would eventually be converted into new forms that made no reference whatsoever to medieval times.
 

 

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James Wyatt
Pantheon in Oxford St London

James Wyatt

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Aug. 3, 1746, Burton Constable, Staffordshire, Eng.
died Sept. 4, 1813, near Marlborough, Wiltshire

English architect chiefly remembered for his Romantic country houses, especially the extraordinary Gothic Revival Fonthill Abbey.
In 1762 Wyatt went to Italy, where he remained six years. On his return to England, he designed the London Pantheon (opened 1772; later demolished), a Neoclassical building inspired by Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The Pantheon made Wyatt one of the most fashionable architects in England.
He succeeded Sir William Chambers as surveyor general to the Board of Works (1796) and was engaged in restoring the cathedrals of Durham, Hereford, Lichfield, and Salisbury, as well as Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, and Magdalen College, Oxford. These “restorations” later earned him the epithet “the Destroyer” from such medieval revivalists of the 19th century as A.W.N. Pugin, who had a more accurate archaeological approach.
In point of originality, Wyatt's severely elegant works in the classical mode, like Heaton Hall, Lancashire (1772), and Heveningham Hall, Suffolk (c. 1788–99), were surpassed by the extravagance of his Gothic Revival buildings, of which the most sensational was Fonthill Abbey (1796–1807), Wiltshire. Initially this was built as a landscape feature and eventually developed into an extraordinary home for the arch-Romantic William Beckford, who supervised its design and construction. The great central tower (270 feet) collapsed in 1807, and after Beckford sold the estate, in 1822, the house further fell into ruin. Today it has mostly disappeared. In John Rutter's Delineations of Fonthill (1823), however, one can still experience some of the building's grotesque, spectacular quality that made it architecturally notorious in the Romantic period. Other notable examples of Wyatt's Gothic country houses include Lee Priory, Kent (1783–90), and Ashridge, Hertfordshire, completed (1808–18)by his nephew, Sir Jeffry Wyatville. A biography of the nephew by Derek Linstrum was published in 1972.
 

 


James Wyatt
The Senior Common Rooms and Senior Library of Oriel College, Oxford, 1780

 

 


James Wyatt
Fonthill Abbey, England, built for William Thomas Beckford Built, 1795-1807
 

 
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Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born March 1, 1812, London, Eng.
died Sept. 14, 1852, London

English architect, designer, author, theorist, and participant in the English Roman Catholic and Gothic revivals.
Pugin was the son of the architect Augustus Charles Pugin, who gave him his architectural and draftsmanship training. His mature professional life began in 1836 when he published Contrasts, which conveyed the argument with which Pugin was throughout his life to be identified, the link between the quality and character of a society with the calibre of its architecture. Pugin, who became a Roman Catholic in 1835, contended that decline in the arts was a result of a spiritual decline occasioned by the Reformation.
Between 1837 and 1840 Pugin enjoyed a growing architectural practice. His employment by John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and other Roman Catholic laymen and clergy resulted in his identification with the leadership of the Roman Catholic revival. His plans for St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, and St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, show both the unsettled condition of his tastes and his imaginativeness and brilliance. The Church of St. Oswald, Old Swan, Liverpool (1839; demolished), was the finest of hisdesigns of these years and the one that set the pattern for Gothic revival parish churches in England and abroad. His True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841) was used by John Ruskin as a foundation for his criticism.
Pugin reached the height of his influence between 1840 and 1844: his theoretical position on the need for a revival of Gothic was refined and relatively free of the religious bias that had earlier dominated it; his literary gifts were equal to his powers as an architectural caricaturist and illustrator; and his circle of patrons loyally supported him. From these years come Pugin's splendid drawings for Balliol College, Oxford (1843), which convey the excitement and fervour of the Oxford Movement; the richly brilliant St. Giles, Cheadle, Staffordshire (1841–46); and extensive repairs and additions to Alton Towers, Staffordshire.
Pugin's last major works are his own house, The Grange, and St. Augustine's Church, both at Ramsgate, Kent. The Rolle family chapel at Bicton, Devon, the decorations of the House of Lords, and the chapel at St. Edmund's College, Old Hall Green, Hertfordshire, well represent the elegant, erudite, yet original Gothic of which he was capable.
The death of his second wife in 1844 and the recurrence of an old illness cast a shadow over Pugin's last years. His practice declined as other architects emerged to serve Roman Catholic clients. During his last years he worked with Sir Charles Barry on the new Palace of Westminster.
 

 


Augustus Pugin
St Francis Xavier's Church

 


Augustus Pugin
Church of Our Lady and St Wilfrid, 1840-41

 

 


Augustus Pugin
Church of St Barnabas, 1841-44

 

 


Augustus Pugin
St Chad's Roman Catholic Cathedral, 1839-41
 

 
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Sir George Gilbert Scott

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born July 13, 1811, Gawcott, Buckinghamshire, Eng.
died March 27, 1878, London


English architect, one of the most successful and prolific exponents of the Gothic Revival style during the Victorian period.
Scott was apprenticed to a London architect and designed the first of his many churches in 1838; but his real artistic education dates from his studyof A.W.N. Pugin's works on medieval architecture. The first result of this study was his design for the Martyrs' Memorial (1841) at Oxford. Scott won the competition for the Nikolai Church (1845–63) in Hamburg, Germany, with a design in 14th-century German Gothic. This commission launched his career and earned him an international reputation. Among his best-known works are the Albert Memorial (1863–72) and the Midland Grand Hotel (built c. 1872; later called St. Pancras Hotel) attached to St. Pancras Station, both in London. Scott's significance rests partly on the sheer number of important buildings with whichhe was associated. Among the approximately 850 structuresthat he designed, restored, or otherwise influenced are almost 500 churches, 39 cathedrals and minsters, and many buildings for colleges and universities. Because he was the organizer and director of the largest English architectural firm of the period, Scott's own individual designs are difficult to determine.
The restoration of long-neglected medieval cathedrals and abbeys, which was one aspect of the Gothic Revival, was a controversial issue even in the 19th century; and Scott's restoration of such famous monuments as Ely, Salisbury, and Lichfield cathedrals, as well as Westminster Abbey, has been regarded with mixed feelings by subsequent generations. Scott was knighted in 1872.
 

 


Sir George Gilbert Scott
St John's College Chapel

 

 


Sir George Gilbert Scott
Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station, 1876
 

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Heinrich von Ferstel

(b Vienna, 7 July 1828; d Vienna, 14 July 1883).

Austrian architect. He was a member of the second generation of historicist architects in Vienna, who continued and developed the pioneering work of such architects as Karl Rösner, Eduard Van der Nüll and August von Siccardsburg. These three, who represented the Romantic period of early historicism in Austria, were Ferstel’s teachers from 1848 to 1850 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, and VAN DER NÜLL & SICCARDSBURG in particular were important early influences. After leaving the academy, Ferstel joined the architectural firm of his uncle Friedrich Stache (1814–95), whom he assisted until 1853 in building castles and country houses for the high nobility in Bohemia. Domestic architecture continued to play an important part in his work. Before long, however, he was winning major architectural competitions, such as the international competition (1855) for the Votivkirche (1856–79) in Vienna.


Heinrich von Ferstel
Votivkirche Wien, 1856–1879
 

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Friedrich von Schmidt



(Born at Frickenhofen, 1825;

died at Vienna, 1891)


Friedrich von Schmidt
Rathaus, 1872-1883
 

 
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Henri Labrouste

born May 11, 1801, Paris, France
died June 24, 1875, Fontainebleau

French architect important for his earlyuse of iron frame construction.
Labrouste entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1819, won the Prix de Rome for architecture in 1824, and spent the period from 1825 to 1830 in Italy, after which he opened a studio in Paris.
Labrouste is primarily remembered for the two Parisian libraries he designed. The Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, built between 1843 and 1850, is still admired for the attractiveness and restraint of its decoration and for the sensitive use of exposed iron structural elements (columns and arches). Labrouste's second library project, the reading room of the Bibliothèque Nationale, was constructedbetween 1862 and 1868. Its roof consists of nine decorated metal domes supported by slender cast-iron columns.
 

 


Henri Labrouste
Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève library in Paris

 
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Eugene Viollet-le-Duc

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born Jan. 27, 1814, Paris, France
died Sept. 17, 1879, Lausanne, Switz.

French Gothic Revival architect, restorer of French medieval buildings, and writer whose theories of rational architectural design linked the revivalism of the Romantic period to 20th-century Functionalism.
Viollet-le-Duc was a pupil of Achille Leclère but was inspired in his career by the architect Henri Labrouste. In 1836 he traveled to Italy, where he spent 16 months studying architecture. Back in France he was drawn irrevocably to Gothic art. J.-B. Lassus first trained Viollet-le-Duc as a medieval archaeologist on the restoration of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois (1838). In 1839 his friend, the writer Prosper Mérimée, placed him in charge of the restoration of the abbey church of La Madeleine at Vézelay (1840), the first edifice to be restored by a modern state commission. Mérimée, a medievalist of note, was inspector of the recently formed Commission on Historical Monuments, an organization in which Viollet-le-Duc soon became a focal figure. In the early 1840s (through the 1860s)he worked with Lassus on restoring the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, and in 1844 he and Lassus were appointed to restore Notre-Dame de Paris and to build a new sacristy in the Gothicstyle; this commission was regarded as an official sanction for the Gothic Revival movement in France. Another important early restoration was the work done in 1846 on theabbey church of Saint-Denis. After 1848 he was associated with the Service des Édifices Diocésains, supervising the restoration of numerous medieval buildings, the most important being the Amiens Cathedral (1849), the synodal hall at Sens (1849), the fortifications of Carcassonne (1852), and the church of Saint-Sernin at Toulouse (1862).
Viollet-le-Duc can be said to have dominated 19th-century theories of architectural restoration; his initial aim was to restore in the style of the original, but his later restorations show that he often added entirely new elements of his own design. Twentieth-century archaeologists and restorers haveseverely criticized these fanciful reconstructions and added structures posing as restorations, for they often destroy or render obscure the original form of the edifice.
Of his original works, all his designs for ecclesiastical buildings were in a weak Gothic style, notably the churches of Saint-Gimer and Nouvelle Aude at Carcassonne and Saint-Denis-de-l'Estrée at Saint-Denis. In his own work, however, he was not a confirmed medieval revivalist, for all but one of his secular buildings are in an uneasy Renaissance mode.
Viollet-le-Duc's numerous written works, all finely illustrated, provide the foundation on which his distinction rests. He wrote two great encyclopaedic works containing exact structural information and extensive design analysis: Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture française du XIe au XVIe siècle (1854–68; “Analytical Dictionary of French Architecture from the XI th to the XVI th Century”) and the Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l'époque carlovingienne à la Rénaissance (1858–75; “Analytical Dictionary of French Furniture from the Carlovingians to the Renaissance”). Running to 16 volumes, these two works provided the vital visual and intellectual inspiration requiredto sustain the Gothic Revival movement. He determined, however, to think his way beyond the Romantic attractions of the Gothic style. Pursuing the inquiries of 18th-century French architectural theorists, he envisaged a rational architecture for the 19th century based on the coherent system of construction and composition that he had observed in Gothic architecture but that would in no way imitate its forms and details. Architecture, he thought, should be a direct expression of current materials, technology, and functional needs. Ironically, he was unable to accept the challenge of his own ideas, for both he and his French disciples continued to design buildings in eclectic styles.
Viollet-le-Duc's general theory of architecture, which affected the development of modern organic and functional concepts of design, was set forth in his book Entretiens sur l'architecture (1858–72). Translated into English as Discourses on Architecture (1875), this work, containing information on the construction of iron skeletons enclosed by nonbearing masonry walls, especially influenced the late-19th-century architects of the Chicago school, particularly John W. Root. Other important writings by Viollet-le-Duc include L'Art russe (1877; “Russian Art”) and De la décoration appliquée aux édifices (1879; “On Decoration Applied to Buildings”).
 

 


Viollet-le-Duc
Ideal Gothic Church
 
 


Viollet-le-Duc
Château-de-Pierrefonds

 


Viollet-le-Duc
La Porte St Nazaire
 

 
 
 


Gothic Revival



(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

architectural style that drew its inspiration from medieval architecture and competed with the Neoclassical revivals in the United States and Great Britain. Only isolated examples of the style are to be found on the Continent.

The earliest documented example of the revived use of Gothic architectural elements is Strawberry Hill, the home of the English writer Horace Walpole. As in many of the early Gothic Revival buildings, the Gothic was used here for its picturesque and romantic qualities without regard for its structural possibilities or original function. Another early example of the tendency toward ornamentation and decoration was Fonthill Abbey, designed by James Wyatt, a country house with a tower 270 feet (82 m) high. Nothing could more clearly illustrate both the impracticality of usage and the romantic associations with medieval life.

The earliest manifestations of an interest in the medieval era were in the private domain, but by the 1820s public buildings in England were also being designed in the Gothic mode. Perhaps no example is more familiar than the new Houses of Parliament (1840), designed by Sir Charles Barry and A.W.N. Pugin. In that large cluster of buildings, the haphazard picturesque quality of the early revival was replaced by a more conscientious adaptation of the medieval English style. Other structures built around mid-century were within this basic pattern. Later, the desire for more elegant and sumptuous landmarks created the last flowering of the style.

In the United States, the style also can be divided into two phases. The early one, rich but comparatively unscholarly, was exemplified by Richard Upjohn's Trinity Church (New York City, 1840). This style, as in England, was favoured by the wealthy for their country estates. The later style, archaeologically more correct, inspired such structures as Renwick's St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York City, 1859–79) and was to dominate public building.

There were several reasons for the change of direction from Neoclassicism to the Gothic Revival, but three stand out as, by far, the most important. The first, sparked by the general Romantic revolution, was the literary interest in medieval times that produced Gothic tales and romances. By setting their stories in medieval times, authors such as Walpole and especially Sir Walter Scott helped to create a sense of nostalgia and a taste for that period. The ruins of medieval castles and abbeys depicted in landscape paintings were another manifestation of this spirit. The second was the writing of the architectural theorists who were interested, as part of church reform, in transferring the liturgical significance of Gothic architecture to their own times. The third, which strengthened this religious and moral impetus, was the writings of John Ruskin, whose Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and Stones of Venice (1853) were widely read and respected. Ruskin stated that the quality of medieval craftsmanship reflected the morally superior way of life of the medieval world and urged a return to the conditions operative in the earlier period.

The writings of the French architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc provided the inspiration to sustain the Gothic Revival movement. His own work, however, was often weak Gothic, and his restorations were frequently fanciful.

The Gothic Revival was to remain one of the most potent and long-lived of the 19th-century revival styles. Although it began to lose force after the third quarter of the 19th century, buildings such as churches and institutions of higher learning were constructed in the Gothic style in England and in the United States until well into the 20th century. Only when new materials and concern for functionalism began to take hold did the Gothic Revival disappear.


Origins and development

The architectural movement most commonly associated with Romanticism is the Gothic Revival, a term first used in England in the mid-19th century to describe buildings being erected in the style of the Middle Ages and later expanded to embrace the entire Neo-Gothic movement. The date of its beginning is not easy to pinpoint, for, even when there was no particular liking for Gothic, conservatism and local building practices had conditioned its use as the style for churches and collegiate buildings. In its earliest phase, therefore, Gothic Revival is not easily distinguished from Gothic survival.

The first clearly self-conscious imitation of Gothic architecture for reasons of nostalgia appeared in England in the early 18th century. Buildings erected at that time in the Gothic manner were for the most part frivolous and decorative garden ornaments, actually more Rococo than Gothic in spirit. But, with the rebuilding beginning in 1747 of the country house Strawberry Hill by the English writer Horace Walpole, a new and significant aspect of the revived style was given convincing form; and, by the beginning of the 19th century, picturesque planning and grouping provided the basis for experimentation in architecture. Gothic was especially suited to this aim. Scores of houses with battlements and turrets in the style of a castle were built in England during the last years of the 18th century.

With developing archaeological interest, a new and more earnest turn was given to the movement—a turn that coincided with the religious revivals of the early 19th century and that manifested itself in a spate of church building in the Gothic style. Only toward the middle of the century were the seriousness and moral purpose that underlay this movement formulated as a doctrine and presented to architects as a challenge to the intellect. Augustus Charles Pugin, in England, was the first to codify the principles of the Gothic Revival. Far more persuasive andinfluential exponents, however, were Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc in France and John Ruskin in England, who gave to the movement a moral and intellectual purpose. The second half of the 19th century saw the active and highly productive period of the Gothic Revival. By then, the mere imitation of Gothic forms and details was its least important aspect; architects were intent on creating original works based on the principles underlying Gothic architecture and deeply infused with its spirit.

Another contribution that the Gothic Revival made to architecture was the encouragement of freedom and honesty of structural arrangement. Structural elements could be provided as and where they were needed. There was no need for dissimulation. French architects, in particular Viollet-le-Duc, who restored a range of buildings from the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame in Paris to the whole town of Carcassonne, were the first to appreciate the applicability of the Gothic skeleton structure, with its light infilling, to a modern age, and the analogy was not lost on subsequent architects at a time when the steel frame was emerging as an important element of structural engineering. Functionalism and structural honesty as ideals in the Modernmovement were a legacy of the Gothic Revival.

Not surprisingly, the Gothic Revival was felt with most force in those countries in which Gothic architecture itself was most in evidence—England, France, and Germany. Each conceived it as a national style, and each gave to it a strong and characteristic twist of its own.


National and regional variations


Great Britain


From the 17th to the 19th century


A Gothic Revival was in a sense initiated early in England during the late 16th century under the influence of Elizabethan and Jacobean notions of chivalry and again between 1620 and 1630 under the impetus of William Laud's Anglicanism; but it is in the Gothic experimentalism of the late 17th century, particularly that of Wren's circle, in which seeds of a Gothic Revival can be discerned. Although buildings erected at these times imitated Gothic forms, none of them were revivalist in spirit. The Gothic Revival was largely conditioned by literary theory and practice. Although it had antecedents, the so-called “revolution of taste” in the mid-18th century was most clearly marked by publication of Richard Hurd's Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762) and Thomas Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). Thomas Gray, especially in his poems of the 1750s and, later, in his letters, was the first major poet to seek inspiration in a “Gothic” past—not only medieval but Celtic and Icelandic. Thomas Warton, poet and critic, acquired his interest in the Middle Ages from architecture and, in his work on medieval English cathedrals and churches, connected theliterary aspect of the Gothic Revival with the work that was begun by a group of antiquaries in the late 17th century and that was continued into the 18th.

The transition from a survival to a revival phase of Gothic architecture took place almost imperceptibly. Curiously enough, it was Vanbrugh, England's great exponent of the Baroque spirit, who made the first successful attempt to evoke sensations of the medieval past. In 1717 he built a house for himself at Greenwich, near London, that was intended to conjure up a “castle air.” It is a simple, robust, brick building that relies for its effect on slender proportion rather than detail. But it is an isolated work of its kind.

Only toward the end of the 18th century did “picturesque” take on a precise meaning, affecting the planning and the forms of English architecture, but, from the late 17th century onward, isolated gardens and estates were laid out to take advantage of the irregularity of landscape, resulting in compositions that approximated those in the paintings of such 17th- and 18th-century artists as Claude Lorrain, Salvator Rosa, and Gaspard Poussin—hence, the denomination of the style as Picturesque. It was William Kent, in response to the literary ideal of “naturalness” of such writers as Sir William Temple, Joseph Addison, and Alexander Pope, who was first acclaimed for fashioning the Picturesque landscape that was to be made famous in the 18th century by Lancelot (“Capability”) Brown and who introduced occasional buildings into it, often in a Gothic style, to serve as a focus of interest. There were, however, other precursors, notably Vanbrugh and Charles Bridgeman.

Kent first used the fanciful Rococo Gothick that was to become characteristic of the 18th century in 1732, on a gateway in the Clock Tower at Hampton Court. He also reconstructed the Tudor buildings of Esher Lodge between 1729 and 1733, introducing ogee arches and quatrefoil openings. These he used again in the late 1730s in the Temple of the Mill at Rousham, Oxfordshire, where he laid out one of the first irregular gardens. The ornamental character of the Gothic Revival was thus established from the start, and it was popularized as such within a few years by Batty Langley, author of Gothic Architecture Improved by Rules and Proportions (1742). Pretensions to archaeological accuracy appear in two churches built in 1753 by Henry Keene—that at Shobdon, Herefordshire, and a charming, though now derelict, octagonal church at Hartwell, Buckinghamshire. An ardent admirer of Gothic, Keene had begun Gothicizing Arbury Hall, Warwickshire, as early as 1748. It was to the amateurs Sanderson Miller and Horace Walpole, however, that the credit for a full-scale domestic Gothic Revival was due.

Miller, a Warwickshire squire, began about 1744 by inserting pointed arches in the south front of his Tudor house at Radway, Warwickshire. Later, he put up a garden ornament in the form of a mock Gothic castle at nearby Edgehill, the idea of which became fashionable and made a reputation for him as a designer of Gothic extravaganzas. His most significant work was Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, the symmetrical, flattened facade of which is thinly decorated with Gothic motifs. Walpole's Gothic, though apparently as lighthearted, was more serious in intent. When, in 1747, he decided to rebuild his house, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, Middlesex, he proposed to reflect faithfully in its architecture his tastes for topography, history, and heraldry. He formed a “committee on taste” to advise him on the design. Among the members were the amateur archaeologists Richard Bentley and John Chute, both of whom provided designs. The architect responsible for the execution of most of the work was William Robinson. During the early phase of building, alterations and interior decorations were made in a pretty, decorative style, with a freedom unhampered by any serious archaeological study. Nor was there any real feeling for medieval composition in the massing of the elements. But in 1761, when a vast circular tower was added to the southwest corner of the house, Walpole gave evidence of a deliberate attempt to achieve an asymmetrical, picturesque composition. The west of the house was more freely grouped.Finally, in 1776, James Essex, probably the most earnest Gothicist of the period, inserted the Beauclerc Tower between the west end and the round tower, making the wholethe first and most determined example of a large-scale Picturesque composition.

The fortuitous appearance and the deliberate irregularity of Strawberry Hill were exploited in many late 18th-century buildings. The most extravagant and sensational of all Gothic Revival buildings was Fonthill Abbey (1796–1806), Wiltshire, designed by James Wyatt primarily as a landscape feature for the arch-Romantic William Beckford (). The great central tower collapsed in 1807, and most of the building hastoday disappeared; but, in John Rutter's Delineations of Fonthill (1823), it is still possible to perceive something of the grotesquely spectacular quality that made this building, for a short time, notorious.

Although many classical architects, including Sir William Chambers and Robert Adam, applied Gothic details to the exterior of their country houses (and Adam was even employed at Strawberry Hill), they displayed no great interest in the style and always retained strict symmetry of composition. George Dance used it more thoughtfully and originally in his occasional Gothic buildings—the facade of the Guildhall (1789), London; Cole Orton Hall (1804–08), Leicestershire; Ashburnham Place (1813–17), Sussex; and the churches of St. Bartholomew-the-Less (1789), London, and Micheldever (1808), Hampshire.

Walpole's innovation assumed real significance only toward the end of the century, after the theory of the Picturesque was evolved and publicized by Richard Payne Knight and Uvedale Price. Already Knight had given architectural form to his ideas of rugged, irregular, and apparently “natural” composition in Downton Castle, Herefordshire, near Ludlow (1774–78). This was the first irregularly planned castellated (castle-style) building with a classical interior. It inspired a vast range of such buildings. John Nash is the best known andmost proficient exponent of the style. Starting with his own house, East Cowes Castle, on the Isle of Wight, in about 1798,he exploited the deliberate irregularity of plan and silhouette afforded by the castellated style; from Caerhayes(1808), Cornwall, in the south, to Ravensworth Castle (1808), Durham, in the north, Nash dotted England (and also Ireland) with Picturesque castles, houses, and ornamental cottages all of vaguely Gothic or Italianate inspiration.

Sir John Soane attempted the Gothic style on at least three occasions—at Port Eliot (1804–06), Cornwall, at Ramsey Abbey (1804–06), Huntingdonshire, and for the library at Stowe (1805–07), Buckinghamshire—but, like his master Dance, strongly influenced by the French Neoclassical theorists Cordemoy and Laugier, he attempted to distill the effects of Gothic rather than to imitate the style. His suspended arches and his clustered ribs rising sheer from the floor and continuing around the vault are, ultimately, of Gothic inspiration.

France

In France a taste for medieval legend survived into the 16th century in aristocratic circles and was nurtured not only by the literary works of the Italian Renaissance poets Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso but also by books on heraldry and blazonry by humanist scholars. More remarkable as evidence of conscious, widespread, and continuing popular interest in the Middle Ages—and especially in Gothic building—were topographical studies and guidebooks published from the middle of the 16th century onward. The Gothic tradition of building continued, especially in ecclesiastical circles, far into the 18th century. But it was largely survival rather than revival. French admirers of Gothic architecture regarded it primarily as a challenge to the intellect. The architects Delorme in the 16th century and Derand in the 17th analyzed the construction of the Gothic vault. They were quick to appreciate it as a highly efficient and economical framework of columns and ribs, supporting the webs of the vaults (which they regarded as no more than infilling panels carrying no thrust) and counterbalanced by buttresses and flying buttresses—as something, indeed, of a structural scaffold. It was this structural elegance that early 18th-century enthusiasts of Gothic, such as Cordemoy, sought to infuse into contemporary architecture. In the Nouveau Traité de toute l'architecture (1706) Cordemoy proposed that a new, honest, and economical architecture might be arrived at by abstracting the principles of Gothic construction and applying them in a perfectly regular classical way. There was no question of reviving the Gothic style; interest in Gothic was to be altogether transmuted into classical terms. The building of the church of Sainte-Geneviève (now known as the Panthéon) in Paris, designed in a style confirming the Neoclassical ideal but on principles derived from Gothic architecture, gave a new impetus to the study of Gothic construction. French architects were imbued with a rational appreciation of Gothicthat was without parallel.

Although there was a native French vogue in the 18th century for the medieval literature of the troubadours, it was the intrusion of English ideas that prompted more authentic representations of the medieval world in stage settings and history paintings after 1772. Certainly, the Gothic taste in architecture was conditioned by the introduction of the informal landscape garden. By 1781 there were a number of English gardens in France with mock-Gothic pavilions, and, during the last two decades of the century, many more were built. But the frivolous, lighthearted “Gothick” of 18th-century England never took hold in France; the French made virtually no attempt to imitate, let alone rival, the splendours of Strawberry Hill and Fonthill Abbey.

To the Revolutionaries at the end of the 18th century, Gothic architecture seemed a symbol of the vested power of the aristocracy and the church, and many buildings were wantonly destroyed. Yet, popular interest in the picturesque charms of Gothic architecture was sustained and even intensified by such men as Alexandre Lenoir, who in 1795 turned the largest of the Paris depots for plundered works of art, the Petits-Augustins (now the École des Beaux-Arts), intothe Museum of French Monuments. Here, by clever juxtaposition and subtle lighting, the Middle Ages seemed tobe endowed with an aura of magic. By suggesting a relationship between a chivalric past and the actual forms ofGothic sculpture and architecture, Lenoir coloured the imagination of a whole generation of Romantics. The great Romantic writer François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand, was fascinated by Lenoir's collection. Indeed, a celebrated chapter on Gothic architecture in Chateaubriand's Le Génie du christianisme (1802; “The Genius of Christianity”), in which Gothic is not only taken as the symbol for the old French Catholic spirit but also is traced beyond, through the forests of Gaul, to nature itself, was directly inspired by Lenoir's work. Inevitably, a Romantic Gothic image was popularized in the years that followed; Romantic playwrights, novelists, and painters were seduced by the charms of Gothic. Even antiquarians succumbed to the Romantic myth, and from 1810 onward a spate of popular guidebooks and studies of Gothic architecture was published.

In spite of a few Gothic-inspired fantasies and an archaeological interest in medieval architecture that found expression in the Neo-Romanesque church of Saint-Paul (1835) at Nîmes by Charles-Auguste Questel, architecture remained a virtually impregnable stronghold until after 1840, when a hard core of Gothic Revivalists began to emerge. This was composed of consistent medievalists who were stirred primarily by archaeological pretensions. Stimulated by the activity of English scholars in Normandy, they patiently studied the medieval remains of that region and slowly forged the science of French Gothic archaeology. An equally important aspect of the Gothic Revival was inaugurated by the great Romantic author Victor Hugo, when he published in 1831 Notre-Dame de Paris , the explicit purpose of which was the glorification of Gothic as a nationaland Catholic style of architecture. But it was the Protestant statesman François Guizot who first gave real impetus to those ideas promoted by Hugo. In 1830 he inaugurated the organization that seven years later became the Commission on Historical Monuments.

All the serious, acceptable architects of the Gothic Revival were amateur archaeologists, and they acknowledged an archaeological standard of taste. They designed from the first in the 13th-century style, and nearly all had restored at least one Gothic building before they undertook to build anything new. The patronage of the Commission on Historical Monuments and later of the Diocesan Buildings Service (formed in 1848), for which thousands of medieval buildings were restored and enlarged, was thus of enormous importance in furthering the aims and the technical skill of the Gothic Revivalists. The men who sustained the Gothic Revival were almost all taught by the commission's leading architects, Jean-Baptiste Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc. Lassus trained Viollet-le-Duc first on the restorations in Paris of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois and the Sainte-Chapelle. In 1844 they were both appointed to restore Notre-Dame de Paris and to build a new sacristy in the Gothic style; this was regarded as an official sanction for the Gothic Revival. But, although a picturesque revival of Gothic had already been initiated in the provinces, official sanction for a full-scale revival was not easily accorded. The members of the French Academy, faithful to Neoclassical ideals, were firmly against it.

In 1844 the north tower of the abbey church of Saint-Denis, begun under Suger in 1135, was found to be in danger of collapse. All Gothic Revivalists were aghast. Adolphe-Napoléon Didron, editor of the Annales archéologiques and propagandist for the Gothic Revival, tactlessly accused the Council of Civil Buildings, which was charged with the approval of all building plans in France, of irresponsibility. Its members, mainly academicians, retaliated by arbitrarily stopping the construction of three churches in the Gothic style that Didron had acclaimed in his journal. Didron then launched a counteroffensive; he demanded a public inquiry into the restoration of Saint-Denis. Under threat of this inquiry, which was powerfully supported by the prefect of the Seine district, Barthelot Rambuteau, the council was forced to approve the plans for Sainte-Clotilde in Paris by Franz Christian Gau, plans that they had held up for more than four years. It became a cause célèbre. A furious pamphlet war followed, from which the Gothic Revivalists emerged triumphant, and in 1852 Didron estimated that 200 neo-Gothic churches had been built or were in the process of construction. But the victory was short-lived. Sainte-Clotilde, as completed by Gau and his successor Théodore Ballu in 1857, was an anomalous expression of revivalist ideals. Didron disliked it intensely, and the dispute caused many admirers of Gothic architecture to reflect seriously on the merits of a Gothic Revival.

Lassus went on to build Saint-Nicolas (1848) at Moulins, Saint-Pierre at Dijon (1852), and Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Belleville (1854) in Paris. Viollet-le-Duc constructed Saint-Gimer (1853–57) at Carcassonne, the church of Nouvelle Aude (1855) and Saint-Denys-de l'Estrée (1860–67) at Saint-Denis; he restored the Château de Pierrefonds (1858-70) to a state of colourful medieval splendour for Louis-Napoleon; and, in his Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture française (1854–68; “Analytical Dictionary of French Architecture”) and the Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français (1858–75; “Analytical Dictionary of French Furniture”), together running into 16 volumes, he provided the vital visual and intellectual inspiration required to sustain the Gothic movement. But he was by no means a convinced revivalist. All but one of his secular works are in an uneasy Renaissance mode. He determined to think his way beyond the Romantic attractions of the Gothic style. Pursuing the inquiries of 18th-century theorists, he envisaged an architecture of the 19th century that would be based on the rational system of construction and composition that he recognized to be embodied in Gothic but would in no way imitate its forms and details. Architecture, he thought, should be the clear expression in 19th-century materials of 19th-century structural and functional needs. He was unable to accept the challenge of his own ideas. Both he and his disciples—Paul Abadie, Émile Boeswillwald, Eugène-Louis Millet, Maurice Ouradou, Anatole de Baudot, Édouard Corroyer, Félix Narjoux, and Édmond Duthoit—continued to design buildings (primarily churches) in a weak Gothic style. There were many less thoughtful and determined men who put up imitations of Gothic architecture in the late 19th century, but the Gothic Revival was never a full-blooded affair. Some of the finest buildings designed after the medieval manner—Saint-Pierre-de-Montrouge (1864–72) in Paris, by Joseph-Auguste-Émile Vaudremer, is one—were isolated works by architects who worked outside the orbit of the Gothic Revivalists and who had no qualms about the intellectual honesty of their chosen mode of expression.


Germany and central Europe


As in France, German interest in medieval legend, history, art, and architecture was sustained throughout the Renaissance both by the general public and by scholars and antiquarians. Interest was focused, in particular, on the cathedrals of Strasbourg and Cologne, buildings that were to assume an almost symbolic significance in the history of the Gothic Revival on the Continent. In his Rerum Germanicarum Epitome (1505; “Epitome of Things German”) the humanist Jakob Wimpheling extolled Strasbourg cathedral as the rarest and most excellent of buildings, and Oseas Schadaeus' guide to the cathedral, Summum Argentoratensium Templum (1617; “Strasbourg's Finest Church”) was the first illustrated guidebook ever devoted to a single medieval building and, in spite of its Latin title, was written in German. Other 17th- and early 18th-century histories and guides—and there were many—give ample evidence of a respectful appreciation of Gothic, despite the jibes of fashionable leaders. Appreciation of Gothic was a traditional and emotional affair, far removed from the studied and analytical interest of the French. Not surprisingly, English Gothic sentiments permeated Germany with the mid-18th-century taste for things English. Conjectures on Original Composition (1759) by the English poet Edward Young enjoyed a vogue in Germany that it never aspired to in England. English attitudes and ideas provided the German Gothic Revival with its peculiarly impassioned character.

The Sturm und Drang (“Storm and Stress”) conception of the late 18th century invested Gothic with extraordinary and unparalleled qualities; it seemed to such philosophers as Johann Gottfried von Herder (and, under his inspiration, to the genius and writer Goethe) to be of the most sublime and exalted inspiration—an expression at once of all nature, all things divine and infinite. Goethe's paean to the cathedral at Strasbourg—and to its builder Erwin von Steinbach—was a 16-page pamphlet, Von deutscher Baukunst (1772; “On German Architecture”), that was an inspiration to all future revivalists. Goethe epitomized Gothic as the expression of the German spirit. Gothic became a German architecture, and it was to remain such in the estimate of all Germans, even German scholars, for 50 years and more. Goethe's passion for Gothic was not long sustained, but his enthusiasm was shared by other contemporaries, notably, the author and statesman Friedrich von Schlegel, who saw Gothic not only as an expression of the German spirit but specifically of a German Catholic spirit. This belief he shared with the brothers Sulpiz and Melchoir Boisserée, by whom he was largely inspired.

Sulpiz Boisserée was the most active and enthusiastic of early Gothic Revivalists. His great preoccupation was the cathedral of Cologne, which he measured minutely, starting in 1808 but continuing up to the publication of Ansichten, Risse und einzelne Theile des Doms von Köln (“Elevations, Sections, and Details of the Cathedral of Cologne”), issued between 1823 and 1831, and an accompanying text, Geschichte und Beschreibung des Doms von Köln (“History and Description of the Cathedral of Cologne”), of 1823. The purpose of this study was the restoration and completion of the unfinished cathedral. He enlisted the moral support even of Goethe and the financial support of King Frederick William III, who in 1824 ordered the preservation of the building. This work of conservation was carried out by Friedrich Ahlert, under the guidance of Schinkel, and after his death by the most gifted of Schinkel's pupils, Ernst Friedrich Zwirner. The task of completion was started in 1842, at the command of King Frederick William IV, and was carried through after Zwirner's death by Richard Voigtel, who finished the work only in 1880. The building of the Cologne cathedral was an expression of German nationalism and marked the beginning of the Gothic Revival proper in Germany.

Earlier expressions of the Gothic Revival in architecture were of a Rococo or Picturesque nature and were much influenced by contemporary fashions in England. From 1725 to 1728, Joseph Effner, gardener to the elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria, built the Gothic-inspired Magdalene Chapel on the grounds of the Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. In 1755 Frederick II the Great of Prussia himself designed the Nauener Gate in Potsdam, and in 1768 Prince Franz of Anhalt-Dessau laid out his park in the Picturesque manner and scattered it, in the years that followed, with Gothic hermitages and ruins. Other 18th-century German gardens were similarly embellished: the New Garden in Potsdam, laid out in the 1780s for Frederick William II by Langhans, or the more spectacular ruined Ritterburg (1793–98), in the park of the landgrave William IX of Hesse at Wilhelmshöhe. There were even odd or idiosyncratic interpretations of Gothic—the tower of Mainz cathedral (1767–74) by Franz Ignaz Neumann or the Laugier-inspired remodeling of the St. Nikolai Church in Leipzig (1784–97) by Johann Friedrich Carl Dauthe. In the latter church, the Gothic ribs of the vault were transformed into palm fronds.

The first architect of any distinction to take an active interest in Gothic was Karl Friedrich Schinkel. He was inspired by Friedrich Gilly's engravings of the castle of Marienburg in East Prussia (1799) to paint, between 1810 and 1815, a number of visionary studies of Gothic buildings in the manner of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. He also designed several stage sets in the Gothic style. Schinkel's first serious architectural composition was a Gothic mausoleum designed in 1810 for Queen Louisa of Prussia. He did other equally Romantic designs in Gothic, the most spectacular being that for a cathedral in the Leipzig Square, Berlin. But none of his ambitious Gothic projects wasexecuted.

Other prominent Neoclassicists who experimented with Gothic were Friedrich von Gärtner, designer of the Ludwigskirche (1829–44) in Munich, and Gottfried Semper, who provided the plans for the Cholera Fountain in Dresden (1843). But their handling of Gothic forms was stiff and awkward, as was that of most German architects of the period, whose works were adulterated and unconvincing essays into the style.

The first significant church of the Gothic Revival was the Votive Church (1856–79) in Vienna by Heinrich von Ferstel. Indeed, Vienna was the centre of the most active and intriguing adaptations of Gothic. Friedrich Schmidt, who had worked under Zwirner at Cologne, was the leading revivalist. He built no fewer than eight churches in Vienna, ranging in date from the Church of the Lazarists (1860–62) to St. Severinus Church (1877–78). The most ambitious is the Fünfhaus parish church (1868–75) outside Vienna.

Along the Rhine, several great castles were restored and dramatized with spiky Gothic trimmings. In Dresden there was a minor outburst of revivalism, but these works cannot be said to have contributed much to the course of architectural history. The Gothic Revival in Germany was nota concerted movement, and there is no specific term in German to describe it. One of the rare buildings that may be considered as characteristic of a specifically German revivaland exuberantly Gothic is the Munich Town Hall (1867–74, enlarged 1899–1909), by Georg Joseph von Hauberisser.
 

 

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THE GERMAN UTOPIA

During a journey to Italy between 1803 and 1805. the architect and painter Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841) became fascinated by the Venetian Gothic and Moorish styles, the monuments of Sicily, and Milan Cathedral. In his oil paintings, enormous Gothic cathedrals are dramatically silhouetted, the back-lighting, emphasizing the effect of delicate filigree work. Gothic, for the German architect, was a romantic aspiration and an unrealizable ideal. His cathedrals were products of a poetic imagination, divine yearnings that had no counterparts in reality. In his own architecture, Schinkel was reluctant to face seemingly insurmountable practical difficulties, convinced that the building technique of the medieval masters had been wholly lost. Instead, he introduced models from Greek antiquity into the architecture of his clay. This constituted a sort of Byzantine Romanesque style and became an expression of a wish to return to the pre-industrial times.
 


Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Medieval City
1815

 

 

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