Art Styles in the Industrial 19th Century



The Creation of the Metropolis


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


In the 19th century, the capital city was planned and constructed- or
reconstructed- as an all-encompassing urban organism, with structured
districts surrounding an aesthetic and functional centre. The metropolis
was provided with infrastructures and services, with buildings
and areas allocated for specific uses.



The equivocal beauty of the industrialized 19th-century metropolis is hauntingly evoked by Charles Baudelaire in the lines of his poem "Les Sept Vieillards" ("The Seven Old Men"), from his famous collection Les Flews du Mal (1857): "Swarming city, city full of dreams, where in broad daylight a ghost clutches the passer-by! Mysteries everywhere flow like sap along the narrow canals of the great giant." Here, behind the vivid imagery we catch a glimpse of the contrasts inherent to the modern city: his is a place that inspires the loftiest of dreams, yet its practical infrastructure includes the basest of elements, such as sewage and drainage.
For the 19th-century middle-class city dweller, the real masterpieces of the age were the palaces of power for government and business; the terminals for land and sea travel; the commercial premises; the huge buildings for education, healthcare, and entertainment; the public parks; the convenient bridges, and, towards the outskirts, the cemeteries. The 19th-century city sprang from a series of remarkable transformations caused by industrial and technological developments. Cities became true metropolises as new citizens flocked in from other areas. All the needs of a community experiencing an explosive growth in numbers had to be provided: new streets, water supply, drainage and sewage systems, public and private buildings, and a transport system that was able to carry large numbers of workers to and from their workplace. Improved public hygiene, a higher standard of living, and significant advances in medicine all contributed to a lower mortality rate at this time of high population growth.


G Veith, View of Vienna, 1873

 This engraving shows an example of town planning from the end of the 1850s.
The previously unoccupied ring of fortified walls is transformed into an area of green space and public services alongside the ancient city centre.





Georg Pezolt, Castle Anif, Salzburg, 1838-48.

 Freed from the chains of classical models, the castle-villa is one of the first examples of picturesque experiment inspired by the Middle Ages.


The castle, that most evocative and mysterious seting of the medieval world, fascinated novelists from the late 18th century onwards. Horace Walpole, man of letters and collector of art and armour, was one of its greatest enthusiasts. Sir Walter Scott described how Walpole's villa at Strawberry Hill, London, was gradually transformed into a feudal castle by the addition of towers, turrets, galleries, corridors, friezes and fretworked ceilings, castellated walls, and pierced windows; inside, the walls were decorated with bossed shields, armour, bucklers, and jousting lances, typical accoutrements of chivalry. Gothic castles provided the setting for such novels as Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764) and Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1819) and Castle Dangerous (1831). Throughout 19th-century Britain, numerous castles were built in the image of those in the stories of Scott and Walpole: Harlaxton Manor in Grantham, Lincolnshire, by Anthony Salvin (1831-37); Cardiff Castle by William Burges (1865); and Scarisbrick Hall in Lancashire (1837-45) by AWN Pugin. In Continental Europe, Stolzenfels was built on the Rhine, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1836); Anif in Salzburg (1838-48) by Georg Pezolt; the medieval-revival Borgo in Turin by Valentino (1882); the Chateau de Pierrefonds (1858-67), in the outskirts of Paris, by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc; and Chateau de Challain-la-Potherie (Maine-et-Loire, 1847—54) by Rene Hode.



Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79) was given his first important commission at the age of 24: the restoration of the church of Sainte Madeleine at Vezelay, France. He went on to restore the Sainte Chapelle, the Parisian burial place of Capetian kings, and then the cathedral of Notre-Dame. Later, he worked on buildings in Narbonne, Saint-Denis, Chartres, and Carcassonne. Viollet-le-Duc had two guiding principles: firstly, to be true to the original building during restoration (this proved to have disastrous consequences when practised by less discerning disciples); secondly, based on his observations of Gothic architecture, to ensure that a building displayed the technical virtuosity of the design. This latter principle was put into practice extensively during the 19th century.



Anthony Salvin, Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire, 1831-37.

In addition to Gothic Revival, English architecture derived inspiration from
the late Renaissance style of Elizabeth I and James I.






The Parisian-born Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann was largely responsible for the transformation of his home town into an exemplary modern city. At the behest of Napoleon III, who wanted a capital as grandiose as his ambitions, Haussmann was the first town planner to rip out the historic centre of a great city, replacing it with wide streets and avenues. He expelled the working class inhabitants from the centre of Paris and created a series of entirely new districts. His Paris of the Third Empire would become a model for major cities all over Europe and America.



John Soane, Bank of England
(detail of waiting room),
London, 1788-1805.

The tasteful, elegant style of Soane's interiors was achieved by his original reworking of more purist forms of classical ornamentation.


Town Planning

The mapping out of land development and the application of the new discipline of urban planning were factors in controlling the expansion of large urban areas. Regulatory systems transformed the appearance of some of the most important European capital cities, not least Paris. In Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, 1831), Victor Hugo wrote: "I am not without hope that Paris, viewed from a montgolfier balloon, shall one day greet the observer with such sumptuous lines, such opulence of detail, such diversity of aspects and with that certain something of greatness in simplicity, of the unexpected in beauty found in a chessboard." Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann, Prefect of the Department of the Seine from 1853 to 1870, promoted and prepared his plan for Paris, outlining the picture of a modern city where wide, straight thoroughfares would physically and aesthetically link its most imposing buildings and monuments. Long boulevards were to cross at star-shaped roundabouts (ronds-points) to create rectilinear visual axes and attractive vistas. Haussmann's aim was to give the city a comprehensively modern image, to make the most of its heritage of great monumental establishments, and to improve the state of buildings and movement of traffic along new roads. The changes to the street plan were carried out in three stages. The first phase, from 1854 to 1858, consisted of essential work, of which half to two-thirds of the overall cost was subsidized by the state. This included extension of the Rue de Rivoli, the Boulevard Sebastopol/Saint-Michel, the axis running from Chatelet to the Hotel de Ville, and the
Avenue de l'Imperatrice to the Bois de Boulogne. The second phase, from 1858 to 1868 and beyond, comprised the construction of streets radiating outwards from important road junctions, including the Chateau d'Eau, the Etoile de l'Arc de Triomphe, and the Place du Trocadero. The third phase saw the completion of a network of streets running through areas such as Les Halles, the Opera, the Rue Lafayette and Rue de Rennes, Boulevard Saint-Germain, Parc Montsouris, and Pare des Buttes-Chaumont. The objective of these measures was to integrate parts of the old city into the new layout. This entailed the demolition of certain buildings, and the absorption of those parts of the city that were compatible with the new layout.
The result of these changes was a triangular block, formed by the subdivision of the urban fabric along the new radial thoroughfares. The problem of developing these central avenues had to be tackled first; the facades of the buildings had to fit in with the overall character of the neighbourhood and with the general appearance of existing buildings. Town halls, schools, museums, theatres, hospitals, and other public places were inserted into the urban setting and linked and integrated by well-planned routes. In England, a population explosion accompanied the Industrial Revolution, and the consequent phenomenonal growth of London meant that civil engineers and legislators had to cope with a fast-changing city. Between 1840 and 1914, the population of London doubled, while that of Greater London trebled; in the years 1820 to 1914 the radius from the heart of London's built-up area extended out from 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 6 miles). Growth of the outer suburbs was stimulated by the further extension of the railways and was additionally encouraged by the opening of the first underground railway svstem in 1863. The city grew through the construction of housing estates, terraces of houses designed in a similar style, planned on a mass scale, and covering very large areas at a phenomenal rate. These estates, however, were often built by speculative builders (this was the case at least until 1888 when the London County Council was established), especially in the working-class districts where the overcrowded and insanitary conditions appalled educated people and writers such as Charles Dickens. This started the debate on the question of London's suburban development, which eventually led Ebenezer Howard to write his Garden Cities of Tomorrow at the end of the century, setting out an original proposition for coping with urban expansion. This was the new town - a self-contained satellite town that benefited from both urban and rural amenities. His ideas were first put into practice in the early 20th century by architects and town planners such as Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker, who laid out the first garden city, Letchworth in Hertfordshire, in 1902. One of the most important examples of 19th-century town planning was Barcelona, the design for which was drawn up by Ildefonso Cerda in 1859. Expansion of the city was to take the form of a rectangular grid about 22 blocks wide, incorporating the oldest, central district of the city, the Barrio Gotico, and crossed by two large, diagonal arterial roads. The plans for ensanche ("the widening") or expansion are illustrated in Cerda's Teoria general de l'urbanizacion published in 1867.
The problem of integrating the older urban fabric with the modern city was solved by the Ring system in Vienna, Cologne, Leipzig, Copenhagen, and other northern European cities. This interesting solution meant that the new road system could be accommodated without destroying the original town plan. In Vienna, the medieval fortifications of the city wall enabled Christian Friedrich Forster (1797-1863) to create a belt around which he built the new city; the Ringstrasse, or circular highway, was bordered by parkland along parts of the sloping banks of the fortifications, while new public buildings, such as a theatre, a library, museums, galleries, and markets, were erected along the outer edge. In 1817, Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841) drew up a town-planning scheme for the centre of Berlin that laid down the criteria for the construction of public buildings (some of which he designed himself). It also contained plans for the improvement of road and waterway links, including changes to the Spree canal and its banks. Leon von Klenze (1784-1864) and Friedrich von Gartner (1792-1847) were involved in the expansion of Munich, building the Ludwigstrasse as well as the Odeonsplatz, Briennerstrasse. and Konigsplatz. Plans for redefining the image of Italian cities ranged from Neoclassically inspired town plans by Giovanni Antonio Antolini (1756-1841), Luigi Cagnola (1762-1833) and Luigi Canonica (1762-1844) to the work of Giuseppe Poggi (1811-1901), who aimed to turn Florence into a modem metropolis. Enrico Alvino (1809-72) provided a new layout for parts of Naples, and Giuseppe Valadier (1762-1839) reorganized the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.


An engraving by Champin of the Champs-Elysees in the middle of the 19th century.
Pushkin Museum, Moscow.



Ildefonso Cerda, plan for enlarging the city of Barcelona, 1859.



John Nash, Regent Street, London, 1814-20.

The regularity of planes and the uniformity of style in this London
street constitute a fine example of early 19th-century town planning.



Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Schauspielhaus, Berlin, 1818-21.

This building represents a rationalist reworking by Schinkel of a classical Greek construction.



Giuseppe Valadier, reorganization of the Piazza del Popolo, Rome, 1813-20.

The piazza solves the problem of linking the city proper with the
system of ramps on the east side leading up to the Pincio.




Henri Beyaert, interior view of the first kursaal, Ostend, 1852.

Favourably situated on the North Sea coast, Ostend became one of the most exclusive spas in Europe. The first kursaal (casino), an indoor recreational complex containing rooms for dining refreshment, and gambling constructed of wood and stucco with a cast-iron frame, could be disassembled. At the disposal of the War Department, which prohibited the erection of permanent structures on the coastal strip, it was demolished in 1865.



As the habits and lifestyles of city dwellers changed during the 19th century, certain places outside the main cities became very popular as venues for social and leisure activities. Visiting holiday and seaside resorts, taking the waters at spas, and gambling at casinos were among the new" pastimes adopted by the prosperous middle-classes. Countless "grand hotels", cafes, spas, and casinos were built during this era. The spa towns of Evian, Aix-les-Bains, Vichy, and Vittel in France; Montecatini, Fiuggi, San Pellegrino, and Salsomaggiore in Italy; Baden Baden and Wiesbaden in Germany; Bath in England; and Karlsbad in Bohemia all developed around buildings provided specifically for visitors.
Spas and seaside resorts offered numerous other attractions: casinos, theatres, and dance and concert halls, which in the case of Charles Garnier's Monte Carlo Casino (1878-79) were all accommodated in one building. The architecture of these resorts was modelled on the Neoclassical style, with a predominance of colonnades, pediments, and entablatures. Later, the stvle became more eclectic, often with Oriental touches. At the end of the century, the widespread use of iron and glass took over, heralding the Art Nouveau style. The success of the coastal resorts — such as Cannes, Nice, the Venice Lido, and Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean, Biarritz and Saint-Malo on the Atlantic, and Deauville, Dieppe, Calais, and Brighton on the Channel — was not only owing to the draw of attractive surroundings and a healthy environment, but also to the range of amenities and the level of comfort guaranteed by the large hotels. These grand establishments offered the height of luxury: lifts, central heating, room service, reading rooms, spacious reception areas, music rooms, and gambling or games rooms, as well as gardens and promenades outside.

Marianske Lazne, colonnade of Marienbad, Bohemia, 1884-89.

The covered promenade, often constructed of iron and glass,
was one of the most fashionable meeting places in late-19th-century spa cities.



New Doctrines

With these changes to city layouts and the growth of many European capitals, it became necessary to reassess the provision and siting of certain public buildings. Thought had to be given to new buildings in which to house government assemblies and administrative and financial institutions, as well as educational establishments, cultural centres, and hospitals. If Balzac was correct in stating, as he did in La Fausse Maitresse, that "architecture is the expression of custom", then the town plans and architectural styles of the 19th-century city expressed the need for display on the part of an increasingly prosperous middle class. The stylistic complexity of 19th-century architecture, in which classical forms were entwined with references to archaeology and reminders of past styles (such as Gothic), also exploited new materials and technology. The result was a vast and varied inventory that could be used in the complex planning involved in redefining city spaces and new buildings in response to the needs of a modern society. Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand (1760-1834) was among the first to realize the importance of reformulating a planning praxis that had to include a classification of the type and history of buildings built in the past. In his Precis des lecons d'architecture (1802-05), he identified specific types of public buildings (town halls, stock exchanges, law courts, libraries, museums, markets, abattoirs, theatres, hospitals, prisons, and others) and private buildings (including town houses and rented accommodation) with designs that took the form of "horizontal schemes" (plans) and "vertical schemes" (elevations). Although Durand's lessons helped a succession of 19th-century architects to make a choice when it came to changing the face of the city, Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79), in his Dictiounaire raisonne de l'architecture francaise, showed how stylistic vagaries could be rationally explained by changing construction methods. After visiting Italy, many Englishmen, such as George Gilbert Scott (1811-78), Edmund Street (1824-81), William Burges (1827-81), and, notably, the critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), returned home to write about what they had seen. Their ideas had a considerable influence on contemporary architects and planners, as they stressed that the essential principles of architectural practice include memory of, and, by extension, obedience to the styles of the past. In The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849), Ruskin advocated a revival of the Gothic style, which he considered to be the supreme reflection of Nature. He explored this concept further in The Stones of Venice, published in three volumes between 1851 and 1853, in praise of Venetian Gothic.




The "great exhibitions", organized by various cities from the mid-19th century onwards, were open to a wide, international public. As the decades progressed, truly universal themed exhibitions proliferated alongside those of a more local character. The exhibitions played a significant role in the rapid expansion of industrialization and the stimulation of international trade and commerce - the life-blood of modern Western civilization. In addition to their symbolic value as temporary unifiers of different geographical areas and cultural spheres, the exhibitions often provided opportunities for architectural experimentation. For example, the first "universal" event, the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations" held in London in 1851, was to prove significant for the development of modern architectural techniques. Crystal Palace, built for the exhibition and the first structure of its kind, found international favour, inspiring a succession of exhibition buildings around the world: New York in 1853; Munich in 1854; Paris in 1855, 1867, 1878, and 1889; Vienna in 1873; Philadelphia in 1876; Sydney in 1879; Melbourne in 1880; Antwerp in 1885, and Brussels in 1888. Not only were these events showcases for industry, technology and mass production, but they also bore witness to the burgeoning world of decorative arts and the practical application of new aesthetic criteria — later known as the applied arts.

The Coalbrookdale Gates at the Great Exhibition in London, 1851.


The Machinery Building at the Philadelphia international Exhibition, 1876.







Joseph Paxton, Crystal Palace, 1851



Erected in Hyde Park in 1851 to house the first international exhibition, the Crystal Palace was the brainchild of Joseph Paxton (1803-65). He was a landscape gardener at Chatsworth in Derbyshire, England, and based the design for the great glass palace on the construction methods that he had developed for his greenhouses. Standard panes of glass set in wooden frames were inserted into a skeleton of iron girders, and guttering was designed to collect internal and external moisture, which then flow-eel away down hollow cast-iron columns.
The five-aisled Crystal Palace had a floor space of 563 metres (1,848 feet) by 121 metres (407 feet) and was built entirely of mass-produced, factory-made sections that were assembled on site. Taking less that six months to complete, it was considered the first, and most significant, example of prefabrication to be used in architectural construction.


An interior view of the Crystal Palace at its original opening.
This was destroyed by a fire in 1936.


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