William Audsley and George Ashdown Audsley.
The architectural movement known as the Gothic Revival began around the 1730s in England. It gained popularity during the nineteenth century with the growing nostalgia for the Middle Ages, an era romanticized as an idyllic age of chivalry in the popular novels of Sir Walter Scott and Horace Walpole. Although early Gothic Revival buildings tended to be frivolous and ornamental, by the mid-nineteenth century, the English began to view Gothic as a national style.
Despite a century of enthusiasm for the Gothic
Revival, William and George Audsley were able to claim in their introduction
to Polychromatic Decoration as Applied to Buildings in the Medieval
Styles that it was the first pattern book devoted to the painted
decoration of medieval-style buildings. As evidence of the continuing
popularity of the medieval aesthetic at the end of the nineteenth century,
the book was an immediate success and the Audsleys’ designs became models
for wallpaper and stencils used in both private homes and public buildings.
Alfred Pierre Hubert Decloux and Doury.
France did not embrace the Gothic Revival as easily as the English had done. In the eighteenth century, medieval architecture seemed to stand for the oppressive power of the Monarchy and the Church. Nevertheless, by the mid-nineteenth century, prompted by books such as Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the French too began to take an interest in their medieval heritage. However, instead of the imaginative Gothic creations of England, the French took an archeological interest in their medieval monuments, concentrating on restoration and on careful studies of existing structures.
Decloux and Doury’s book is a good example of
this tendency. The chromolithographs carefully document the stained
glass and polychrome ornament of Sainte-Chapelle, one of the jewels
of the High Gothic period. It was built in the 1240s to house
the relics collected by Louis IX. Because of its royal associations,
Sainte-Chapelle was badly damaged during the French Revolution.
Decloux and Doury’s book was published while efforts were going on to
restore the famous building.
Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville.
Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States in 1830 in order to investigate the American penitentiary system. The result of this investigation was their book: On the Penitentiary System in the United States and Its Application in France.
Beaumont and Tocqueville made a special study of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, or Cherry Hill Prison, as it was also known. The newly-built jail was based on Quaker ideals. Corporeal punishment was abolished, but the prisoners lived in absolute solitude, each within their own small cell. The Quakers believed that, with time to reflect, the prisoners would find their “light within.” Beaumont and Tocqueville were critical of this system because the prisoners did not learn discipline. They instead praised the prisons of New York and Boston, where prisoners worked together but did so in absolute silence. Beaumont and Tocqueville were impressed with the productivity in these places and also appreciated that, because of the mandatory silence, the prisoners could not influence each other:
Their bodies are together, but their souls are separated; and it is not the solitude of the body which is important, but that of the mind. … At Auburn [a prison in New York], they are really isolated, though no wall separates them.
Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates
Amos Jackson Bicknell.
The solitary confinement experiment that took
place at the Eastern State Penitentiary was ultimately deemed a failure.
It in fact became illegal in 1844 because of the high rates of insanity
that ensued under such systems. This model jail presented in Amos
Jackson Bicknell’s architectural pattern book adheres to a more moderate
theory of confinement. Although the prisoners are relegated to
small cells, the prison building itself has a more organic layout and
is even intermingled with the jailer’s home and office. Although
Bicknell’s plan is meant for a much smaller prison, it reflects Victorian
attitudes regarding rehabilitation. It was hoped that the example
of the jailer’s family, living in such close proximity to the prisoners,
would offer positive influences.
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