Art Styles in the Industrial 19th Century


The Creation of the Metropolis


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




Franz Schwechten, Anhalter Bahnhof Berlin, 1872-80.




Theophile Gauticr described railway stations as the -palaces" of modern industry, in which the railway - the god of the 19th-century - was worshipped. For Marcel Proust, they were special places that contained the very essence of the city. These cathedrals of contemporary society became the meeting places of different nationalities, the focal point of a vast radiating network of steel stretching out to the ends of the earth. The station - the modern showcase of progress and technology — started to exert its fascination during the second half of the century, as railways were extended throughout Europe and the US. Architecturally, the great railway stations combined references to the past and experimentation with new forms. Typically, they featured the spectacular technological innovation of a vast canopy high above the platforms. The gigantic iron and glass structures of such stations as St. Pancras (1866-68) and King's Cross (1851-52) in London, Grand Central (1869—71) in New York, and Saint-Lazare (1887) in Paris were remarkable for their virtuosity and up-to-date construction. Each of these great citv termini was emblematic of the metropolis it served and was linked to a farflung network that kept to precisely the same time, which was marked by the large station clocks. Railway time-tables led to the introduction of standard time, vital it the transport system was to function.

Angelo Morbelli, The Central Station of Milan, 1889.
Civica Gallena d'Arte Moderna, Milan.


Lewis Cubitt, King's Cross Station, 1851-52.

This painting shows the arrival of Queen Victoria at the famous London railway station.




George Meikle Kemp, Walter Scott Memorial, Edinburgh, 1838-44. Kemp's monument, the winning entry in a competition held in 1838, was conceived as a great tabernacle in the Gothic style.

Public Buildings

The commemorative or symbolic aspects of official buildings and administrative headquarters were often enhanced by the architect's choice of style. This is evident in London's Neo-Gothic Houses of Parliament designed by Sir Charles Barry
(1795-1860) and A.W.N. Pugin (1812-52). Vienna's city hall (1872-84), designed by Friedrich von Schmidt, is another example of Neo-Gothic, as is the Hotel-Dieu in Paris, by Emile Gilbert and Arthur-Nicholas Diet, and the Prefecture de Police on the Ile de la Cite (1862-66). A more spectacular use of new-structural technology was evident in buildings destined for educational and cultural use. Fine examples include Berlin's Bauakademie, designed by Karl Friedrich Schtnkel between 1831 and 1836; the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris by Felix Duban and Ernest-George Coquart (1871); the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve (1843-30); and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris (1854-75), designed by Pierre-Francois-Henri Labrouste (1801-75). Joseph Due's design for the Palais de Justice in Paris (1857-68), with its mixture of Italian inspiration and Far Eastern ornamentation, shows how various stylistic influences could be combined. A wealth of Neo-Baroque details, including colonnades, tympani, and cornices underline the complex structure of Joseph Poelaeit's Palais de Justice in Brussels (1866-83), making an impressive monumental whole. At a time when industry and commerce were expanding, the designs for stock and commodity exchanges were particularly varied. A typical example was London's Coal Exchange (1844-49) by James Bunstone Bunning, whose circular building had galleries and walkways surrounding the trading floor, surmounted by a wide, glazed dome.


Friedrich Weinbrenner, pyramidal monument, Karlsruhe, 1823.

 As Inspector of Buildings from 1800, Weinbrenner initiated the Neoclassical revival in Karlsruhe. He designed the Kari-Friedrichstrasse and the Kaiserstrasse (1802-05), the Schlossplatz (1806), the Town Hall (1821), the Palace of the States General (1822), and the Mint (1826).



Pierre-Francois-Henri Labrouste, reading room of the Bibliotheque Nationale Paris, 1858-68.

The characteristic ribbed vault roofing, supported by slender cast-iron columns, represents an early synthesis of engineering and architecture and demonstrates the aesthetic possibilities of iron structures.



Joseph Poelaert, Palais de Justice, Brussels, 1866-83.

This late example of the Neoclassical style is a gigantic building, which dominates the centre of Brussels.
In this respect, it bears comparison with the religious buildings of the ancient East.






Theatres and Museums

Traditionally, certain types of building had been provided to accommodate cultural and recreational activities. Notably, these included theatres (for operas, concerts, ballets, and plays) and stadiums for spectator sports. The stadiums often housed sports events such as horse racing, cricket matches, and tennis tournaments, which people attended primarily in order to socialize. There were also large cafes in city centres and parks, hotels that catered for the increasingly popular habit of taking seaside holidays and health cures at spas, and casinos for gambling. The theatre's shape reached what was virtually its definitive layout by the end of the 19th century. By this time, the elements particular to this architectural form - the seating area, foyer, sloping aisles, galleries, and a division of the internal space between stage, proscenium, and the ceiling over the auditorium -were all in place. Jean-Louis-Charles Garnier's Paris Opera (1861-75), Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Schauspielhaus (1818-21) in Berlin, the San Carlo theatre in Naples (1810) by Antonio Niccolini, and the Carlo Felice theatre (1825-28) in Genoa by Carlo Barabino, as well as many other theatres and opera houses, have these component parts in common, although differently arranged and with varying interiors, suitable for plays, opera, music, or ballet. The importance that nationalist governments attached to museums and their close ties with metropolitan and urban life encouraged their proliferation.
Museums assumed the role of guardians of record and power in a full range of cultural spheres. Exhibition space, planned within the wider context of the city, was to become an essential theme for architectural developments during the 20th century. In 1793, the Louvre opened in Paris; a few years later, the museum now known as the Kaiser Friedrich Museum was inaugurated (1797) in Berlin, and, in 1809, a museum housing the Accademia di Belle Antidi Brera, was opened to the public in Milan. Further testimony to the close interest taken by governments is clear in the number of specialized establishments that were erected all over Europe: the Glyptothek in Munich (1815-34), designed by Leo von Klenze; Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Altes Museum in Berlin (1823-1830); the South Kensington Museum in London (1856-1909), designed by F. Fowke, Captain H.Y.D. Scott, and Aston Webb; Robert Smirke's British Museum (1823-47), also in London; and the Osterreichisches Museum fur Kunst und Industrie in Vienna (1868-73), designed by F. von Ferstel. Natural history museums also sprang up in the capital cities, including the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna (1871-91), the work of Gottfried Semper and K. Hasenauer, and London's Natural History Museum (1871-81), designed by Alfred Waterhouse.






The 19th century saw profound changes in the organization and role of the museum. Although there are precedents in earlier periods, it was after 1800 that scientific systems of classification took over from personal taste as the rationale for the formation and arrangement of collections. The Great Exhibition, held at Crystal Palace in 1851, symbolizes the urge to classify objects into a strict taxonomic framework. Elaborate catalogues and advanced techniques of display reflected these priorities. Profits from the Exhibition were used to found the South Kensington Museum - renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1899 - which applied these principles to the fine arts and decorative arts as well as scientific collections. Similar museums were founded in Europe and the US. notably in Vienna and New York (the Metropolitan Museum, 1870). The development of art history as a discipline also had implications for museum organization. The conversion of the Louvre in Paris from a royal palace to a museum, which opened in 1793, instigated a debate as to whether displays should be "sumptuous" or "systematic". Like the Louvre, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, rebuilt by Leo von Klenze in the 1840s and opened by Nicholas I in 1852, compromised between clarity and spectacle in its displays. The move towards a scientific curatorship influenced the founding of the Altes Museum in Berlin, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
Smaller museums with specific functions, intended to act as a celebration of local history or great figures, also appeared in the 19th century. The Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen results from the desire of the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1768-1844) to establish a monument to his own genius. In 1837, he gave his collection to the city: the museum which bears his name, designed by Gottlieb Bindesboll, was opened in 1848.



Interior view of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, 1852.



After spending his formative years in Padua and Venice; Camillo Boito (1836-1914) taught architecture at the Accademia di Brera in Milan from 1860 until 1908, An impressive lecturer, a cultivated scholar, and a relentless traveller, he amassed photographs of works of art from all over the world and wrote countless articles on architecture. Despite his involvement in the demolition of belle-epoque Milan and its subsequent reconstruction, his restoration work showed respect for a building's history. However, his architectural work, including the Porta Ticinese in Milan and the Pinacoteca Civica in Padua, was uninspiring. He eschewed the prevailing eclecticism and developed his own version of the "veracious" style, resembling Italian Romanesque-Gothic. Luca Beltrami (1854-1933) was one of his pupils.

Camillo Boito, Pinacoteca Civica, Padua, Italy, 1879.

M. G. B. Bindesboll, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen, 1839-48.


Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Altes Museum, Berlin, 1823-30.





In the wake of Napoleonic decrees that forbade individual burial within the confines of inhabited areas, cemeteries required specific consideration as far as town planning was concerned. In his Historical Dictionary of Architecture, Quatremere de Quincy singled out the Camposanto at Pisa as a model. He contributed to the diffusion of axial symmetry design in cemetery layout. Tombs and chapels on the other hand received a freer treatment, inspired by both the classical and the medieval repertory.

Temple of Antonio Canova, 1819-20, Possagno, Italy.

This famous funeral monument is based on the Pantheon.

G. B. Rezasco, Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy, 1844-61,



Louis Hippolyte Lebas, La Petite Roquette, Paris, 1826-36.

Conceived as a correctional institute for juveniles,
this building is constructed on the radiating plan inspired by Jeremy Bentham's "panopticon".

Gaols and Hospitals

The architecture applied to prisons and hospitals during this era illustrates how specific functional needs were linked
to stylistic and symbolic expressions of a new political and social climate. Penal institutions in large cities experimented with ever more effective solutions. The "panopticon", first devised by Jeremy Bentham in 1787. allowed prisoners to be kept under very close surveillance, and consisted of a central control area from which wings, housing the cells, radiated outwards. The whole construction was punctuated by courtyards and enclosed by a high brick perimeter wall. This architectural plan was used in the House of Correction in Bury St Edmunds, England (1803-05), and La Petite Roquette in Paris (1826-36) by Louis Hippolyte Lebas. In some cases, adding a Neo-Gothic style gave the prison an imposing and austere appearance, as in Bunning's Holloway Prison (1849-51) in London, making it seem like a castle, an impenetrable fortress. The effects of medical procedures and hospital organization on the mortality rate were researched between 1760 and 1790 by Howard, Tenon, and Hunczovsky in England. France, and Austria respectively. Their statistics proved that it was vital to build hospitals divided into separate wards rather than the traditional multifunctional buildings for the sick. The guiding principles for the construction of hospitals (endorsed by the Academie des Sciences in 1786 and analyzed by Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand in his Precis des lecons d'circhitechire of 1809) were exemplified in the rebuilding of the Hotel-Dieu (1772-1788), one of the largest hospitals in Paris, designed by Bernard Poyet. The hospital interiors were to be subdivided, with the spaces organized according to the various pathologies. Large areas were devoted to bedded wards for in-patients, sited so as to ensure the best sanitary conditions possible, and set in green open spaces. Enclosed walkways linked the various hospital facilities. During the 19th century, many hospitals adopted this layout, including the Lariboisiere in Paris, designed by Martin Pierre Gauthier (1846-54); the Royal Herbert Military Hospital at Woolwich. London (1860-64); and St. Thomas' Hospital, also in London (1865-71).
In the late 18th century, new laws requiring burial in designated sites outside the populated areas meant that by the second half of the 19th century, cemeteries of an alternative layout and style to the traditional compact enclosure emerged. Plots allotted to family tombs were designed as funerary monuments, chapels, and buildings in miniature, using the expressive potential of sculpture, and a new symbolic language, to portray the distinctive characteristics of the departed.



Martin Pierre Gauthier, Hopital Lariboisiere, Paris, 1846-54.

 Originally named the Louis-Philippe, the hospital's layout of
pavilions met the most modern hygiene requirements.





Gustave Eiffel,
Garabit railway viaduct over the
River Truyere, France, 1880-84.


Structural engineering was one of the disciplines to reap the greatest benefit from the new technology and materials introduced during the 19th century. The Coalbrookdale Bridge in Shropshire, England, built over the River Severn in 1700 to a design by Abraham Darby and John Wilkinson, had a span of nearly 30 metres (100 feet) and was constructed entirely of cast iron. It was the first in a long line of bridge-building feats that clearly illustrated the virtuosity of contemporary structural engineering. In 1801, the American James Finlay patented a design for the suspended level floor. This construction method was later developed by using wrought iron "chains", a process patented in 1817 by Samuel Brown and Thomas Telford. The chain suspension technique was employed to build many bridges in the British Isles: Thomas Telford's Menai bridge in Wales, 1819-26; the Union Bridge over the Tweed at Berwick, by Samuel Brown, 1820; and Clifton Bridge near Bristol by Isidore Kingdom Brunel, 1829. Further advances in suspension bridge construction were made when J. White and E. Hazard bridged Schuvlkill Falls in Pennsvlvania (1816), and when the Seguin brothers constructed their bridge at Tain-Touron (1825) over the Rhone. In both cases, drawn metal cables were used instead of chains. During the second half of the century, designers concentrated their efforts on building structures that used less iron and, increasingly, switched to steel for tensile strength. The famous French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, built the first viaducts over the River Douro at Oporto, Portugal (1876—77), and the Truyere at Garabit, France (1880-84), with a parabolic vertical section supported by hollow columns. Towards the end of the century, moving bridges were introduced with London's Tower Bridge, designed by Horace Jones and John Wolfe Barry. Built between 1886 and 1894, its two large towers, with an upper and lower iron structure running between them, were linked by abutment towers and land ties, and by the chains to the shore spans. The lower level, divided into twin bascules, carried traffic when lowered but could be raised in drawbridge fashion to allow ships to pass.




John Wolfe Barry and Horace Jones, Tower Bridge, London, 1886-94.

The central structure can be raised to allow ships to pass up and down the Thames.



G Rothlisberger, Paderno Bridge, Paderno d'Adda, 1887-89.

This strong iron construction inspired by the arch bridges of Gustave Eiffel consists of a straight truss,
supported by a parabolic arch with a span of 150 metres (495 feet).


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