JCTV = reading GARBETT




EDWARD LACY GARBETT's A Rudimentary Treatise on the Principles of Design in Architecture as Deducible from Nature and Exemplified in the Greek and Gothic Architects, London, John Weale, 1850

A few quotes to get you going:

A plea for the continuity of aesthetics:

"Architecture is the art of well building; in other words, of giving to a building all the perfections of which it is capable. This differs in no respect from another definition lately put forth, "the art of the beautiful in building;" for those who have undertaken to investigate the abstract nature of beauty, appear not to have arrived at any more definite conclusion than that it consists in perfection of any kind; so that, whether we speak of the beauties of a building or its perfections, we mean the same thing. The term Beauty, however, is often restricted, in architecture, to those merits of a building which are not necessary to its use, or its mechanical perfection; and hence the calssification of the aims of architecture under three heads, -Fitness, Stability, and Beauty. Nothing can be called architecture which does not aim professedly at all these three objects. Their respective claims to attention may be very variously proportioned in different kinds of architecture, such as ecclesiastical, civic, domestic, and monumental kinds; but if there be any structure which professes to embody only two of these requirements, (no matter which two, ) that is not architecture at all." Rudimentary Treatise p. 1-2 This was a direct and compelling criticism of John Ruskin's Seven Lamps of Architecture published the previous year (1849), who of course won the war. Even in Edward Winters' very recent Aesthetics of Architecture, the untenable socialisation of aesthetics into highs and lows into a world in which uselessness is thought of as philsophically possible and not just a mere shrug of aversion, has survived. Garbett was also guilty of this inconsistency but made an interesting step....

"The distinction between architecture and building is a distinction of very recent origin; for it is an idea quite peculiar to the present age, and nearly confined to the English nation, that building might be unarchitectural." Rudimentary Treatise, p. 2.

However ingenious Garbett's aesthetics and it is ingenious and consistent, he allowed his enjoyment of dislike to get the ebtter of him and having once decided on a normative principle was quite capable to dismiss out of hand even the most treasured of beauties...

"Now the fact is, that our old 'Gothic'parish churches are for the most part, gothic indeed; - the work of illiterate rural masons, totally ignorant of the principles of that or any other architecture; repeating as well as they could, the mere details, empty forms or clothing, of the only architecture they saw, - that of the scientific fraternity of Gothicists, -without the remotest conception of its meaning, motive, or principles. They admired the cathedrals and abbeys, as all admire that which is consistent, united and true, though they cannot see what constitutes the consistency, cannot discern the onte motive that gives unity, cannot state the truth. Thus they admired and copied, but did not imitate." Rudimentary Treatise p. 239

The Gothic thorughout its career, nobly imitated nature in one particular, which the Classic system never attempted. In the organism of Nature, and those of the Gothic system, (but of no other,) do we find a most rigid economy of material, accompanied by no economy at all of workmanship, -often none of manual labour, but never any of mental labour. The most lavish expenditure of labour, (or at least of thought,) seems to have been considered no waste, if effecting the smallest saving of material; and the whole decorative system consisted in removing superfluous matter not conducive to strength."Rudimentary Treatise, p. 239-240.

The origin of the entasis: an overwhelming selfevidence Gothic Science versus Gothic Art, The brilliant logic of King's College Chapel, Cambridge Robert Hooke: ut pendet continuum flexile, sic stabit contiguum rigidum inversum, or the logic of the arch as an inverse chain Lie upon lie: "As in China it is necessary that women should not walk and in Japan that teeth should be black; so in England that this natural arrangement of roof and wall should be reversed"
2nd Page of St Stephen Walbrook
The tissue of error: the joining of the roof with the wall, the problem with gutters: a comparison with Greek originals Glorious St Stephen Walbrook, Wren's greatest achievement, unfettered by the "odious requirement of modern parsimony": galleries. An interior unchallenged in producing its effect "with so small an amount of ornament". The neglect of geometrical planning: With this exception, the royal Mausoleum at St Denys, destroyed in the French Revolution, a beautiful example of hexagonal planning: A dodecahedron with a central hexagon surrounded by six square and six triangular compartments.
Perfection was attained, when both (the apertures and the mullions) were equally studied; and decline began when the mullions or bars became the principal objects of design. In Germany the chief vice was interpenetration, or the making mouldings appear to pass through each other, instead of stopping each other. (Perhaps this arose from a fancy to repeat and exhibit everywhere the symbol of the cross. It is known that some monkish writers of that age amused themselves with finding crosses in every object of nature) (...) ...that originally beautiful and useful meber, the ogive crocketed hood, became to the German designers, what the panel was to the English. It overgrew everything else.. the latest French buildings free from Italian details, display a style called Burgundian, with the same general tendencies as our Tudor, but far less skillfully carried out; the arches being not only depressed but pointless..(...) their ugliness desguised in a blaze of excessive ornament.  

Below is a complete set of downloadabe pdf files of the text of the Rudimentary Treatise. Eventually I hope to have a properly digitsed text.

Title Page, Contents, Preface    
Chapter One The Objects of Architecture Proper page 1
Politeness in Building 7
Beauty in Building 12
Expression in Building 20
Poetry in Building 30
Chapter Two The Lowest Class of Beauties in Building 33
Colour 34
Harmonious Colouring 36
Repetition and Uniformity 44
Beauty of Form apart from Expression 46
Reducible to Unity and Variety 51
Gradation and Contrast 57
Beauty of Curvature 60
Chapter Three Difference of Expression in Forms 64
Opposite Effects of Contrast and Gradation 75
Five Classes of Forms 80
Their Distribution 85
Sublimity Dependent chiefly on: Contrast 98

Expression of Power





Picturesqueness - Its relation to the above 106
Chapter Four Of Some Higher Beauties in Architecture 109
Imitation of Nature 110
Imitation of Masters, and Originality 118
Honesty and Decorative truth 122
Constructive Truth 130
Constructive Unity, or Unity of Statical Design 131
Chapter Five Examination of the Greek Architecture 136
Unity of General Design 137
Constructive and Decorative Truth in the Doric Order 141
Its Optical and Aesthetic Corrections 153
The Other Orders and their Ornaments 158
Chapter Six Examination of the Gothic Architecture 167
Of Arcuation as its Main Essential 171
Of the General Forms of Gothic Buildings 195
The Details - Their Constructive and Decorative Truth 220
Remarks on the Decline of the Gothic System 236
Remarks on Post-Gothic Architecture 241
Concluding Remarks Including John Weale's Catalogue of Publications 253