« PoprzedniaDalej »
disengaged from the world. Columns, beside their chief service of being supports, may contribute to that peculiar expression which the destination of a building requires; columns of different proportions, serve to express loftiness, lightness, &c. as well as strength. Situation also may contribute to expression : conveniency regulates the situation of a private dwellinghouse; but, as I have had occasion to observe, the situation of a palace ought to be lofty.
And this leads to a question, Whether the situation, where there happens to be no choice, ought, in any measure, to regulate the form of the edifice?
The connexion between a large house and the neighboring fields, though not intimate, demands, however, some congruity. It would, for example, displease us to find an elegant building thrown away upon a wild uncultivated country: congruity requires a polished field for such a building; and beside the pleasure of congruity, the spectator is sensible of the pleasure of concordance from the similarity of the emotions produced by the two objects. The old Gothic form of building seems well suited to the rough uncultivated regions where it was invented: the only mistake was, the transferring this form to the fine plains of France and Italy, better for buildings in the Grecian taste; but by refining upon the Gothic form, every thing possible has been done to reconcile it to its new situation. The profuse variety of wild and grand objects about Inverary demanded a house in a Gothic form; and every one must approve the taste of the proprietor, in adjusting so finely the appearance of his house to that of the country where it is placed.
The external structure of a great house, leads naturally to its internal structure. A spacious room, which is the first that commonly receives us, seems a bad contrivance in several respects. In the first place, when immediately from the open air we step into such a room, its size in appearance is diminished by contrast: it looks little compared with that great canopy the sky. In the next place, when it recovers its grandeur, as it soon doth, it gives a diminutive appearance to the rest of the house: passing from it, every apartment looks little.
A great room, which enlarges the mind and gives a certain elevation to the spirits, is destined by nature for conversation. Rejecting therefore this form, I take a hint from the climax in writing for another form that appears more suitable, by a progression from small to great. If the house be very large, there may be space for the following suit of rooms: first, a portico; second, a passage within the house, bounded by a double row of columns connected by arcades; third, an octagon room, or of any other figure, about the centre of the building; and lastly, the great room.
Artists have generally an inclination to form the great room into a double cube, even with the inconvenience of a double row of windows: they are pleased with the regularity, overlooking that it is mental only, and not visible to the eye, which seldom can distinguish between the height of 24 feet and that of 30.
Of all the emotions that can be raised by architecture, grandeur is that which has the greatest influence on the mind; and it ought therefore to be the chief study of the artist. But as grandeur depends partly on size, it seems so far unlucky for architecture, that it is governed by regularity and proportion. But though regularity and proportion contribute nothing to grandeur as far as that emotion depends on size, they in a different respect.contribute greatly to it, as has been explained above.
Next of ornaments, which contribute to give buildings a peculiar expression. A private dwelling-house and other edifices where use is the chief aim, admit not regularly any ornament but what has the appearance, at least, of use: but temples, triumphal arches,
ther buildings intended chiefly or solely for show, admit every
sort of ornament. , A thing intended merely as an ornament, may be of
any figure; if it please the spectator, the artist gains his end. Statues, vases, sculpture upon stone, whether basso or alto relievo, are beautiful ornaments. A statue in perfection is an enchanting work; and we naturally require that it should be seen in every direction and at different distances; for which reason, statues employed as ornaments are proper to adorn the great staircase that leads to the principal door of a palace, or to occupy the void between pillars. But a niche in the external front is not a proper place for a statue. To adorn the top of a wall with a row of. vases is an unhappy conceit, by placing things apparently of use where they cannot be of any use. Upon the pedestal, whether of a statue or a column, the ancients never ventured any bolder ornament than the basso-relievo.
Long robes appear noble, not singly for their flowing lines, but for their being the habit of magistrates; and a scarf acquires an air of dignity by being the badge of a superior order of churchmen. These examples may be thought sufficient for a specimen: a diligent inquiry into human nature will discover other influencing principles; and hence it is, that of all subjects ornaments admit the greatest variety in point of taste.
We find three orders of columns among the Greeks; the Doric, the Ionic, and the Corinthian, distinguished from each other by their destination as well as by their ornaments.
The only circumstances that can serve to distinguish one order from another, are the form of the column, und its destination. To make the first a distinguishing mark, without regard to the other, would multiply these orders without end; for a color is not more susceptible of different shades, than a column is of different forms. Destination is more limited, as it leads to listinguish columns into three kinds or orders: one plain and strong, for the purpose of supporting plain and massy buildings; one delicate and graceful, for
supporting buildings of that character, and between these, one for supporting buildings of a middle character. This distinction, which regards the different purposes of a column, is not naturally liable to any objection, considering that it tends also to regulate the form, and in some measure the ornaments, of a column
If we regard destination only, the Tuscan is of the same order with the Doric, and the Composite with the Corinthian; but if we regard form merely, they are of different orders.
The ornaments of these three orders ought to be so contrived as to make them look like what they are intended for. Plain and rustic ornaments would be not a little discordant with the elegance of the Corinthian order; and ornaments sweet and delicate, no less so with the strength of the Doric. The Corinthian order has been the favorite of two thousand years, and yet I cannot force myself to relish its capital. The invention of this florid capital is ascribed to the sculptor Callimachus, who took a hint from the plant Acanthus growing around a basket placed accidentally upon it; and in fact the capital under consideration represents pretty accurately a basket so ornamented: an Acanthus, or any tender plant, may require support, but is altogether insufficient to support any thing heavier than a bee or a butterfly. This capital must also bear the weight of another objection: to represent a vine wreathing round a column with its root seemingly in the ground, is natural; but to represent an Acanthus, or any plant, as growing on the top of a column, is unnatural. The elegance of this capital did probably at first draw a veil over its impropriety; and now by long use it has gained an establishment, respected by every artist. Such is the force of custom, even in contradiction to atu
With respect to buildings of every sort, one rule dictated by utility, is, that they be firm and stable. Another rule, dictated by beauty, is, that they also appear so: for what appears tottering and in hazard of tumbling, produceth in the spectator the painful emotion of fear, instead of the pleasant emotion of beauty; and, accordingly, it is the great care of the artist, that every part of his edifice appear to be well supported.
To succeed in allegorical or emblematic ornaments, is no slight effort of genius; for it is extremely difficult to dispose them so in a building as to produce any good effect. The mixing them with realities, makes a miserable jumble of truth and fiction. The temples of Ancient and Modern Virtue in the gardens of Stowe appear not at first view emblematical; and when we are informed that they are so, it is not easy to gather their meaning: the spectator sees one temple entire, another in ruins; but without an explanatory inscription he may guess, but cannot be certain, that the former being dedicated to Ancient Virtue, the latter to Modern Virtue, are intended as a satire upon the present times. On the other hand, a trite emblem, like a trite simile, is disgustful. A room in a dwelling-house containing a monument to a deceased friend, is dedicated to Melancholy: it has a clock that strikes every minute, to signify how swiftly time passes—upon the monument, weeping figures and other hackneyed ornaments commonly found upon tomb-stones, with a stuffed raven in a corner-verses on death, and other serious subjects, inscribed all around. These objects are too familiar, and the artifice too apparent, to produce the intended effect.*
· The statue of Moses striking a rock from which water actually issues, is also in a false taste; for it is mixing reality with representation. Moses himself may bring water out of the rock, but this miracle is
* In the city of Mexico there was a palace termed the house of affliction, where Montezuma retired upon losing any of his friends or upon any public calamity. This bouse was better adjusted to its destination: it inspired a sort of horror: all was black and dismal; small windows, shut up with grates, scarce allowing passage to the light.