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2.5 - Nineteenth-Century Gothic Architectural Aesthetics: A. W. N. Pugin, John Ruskin and William Morris

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2020

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
Angela Wright
Affiliation:
University of Sheffield
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Summary

Beginning with the design competition for the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster in 1834, this chapter discusses the development of Gothic in architecture in the nineteenth century. It examines the work of three significant figures in the Gothic Revival: A.W. N. Pugin; John Ruskin; and William Morris, suggesting that, although each approached the issue in terms of their different religious and political convictions, all three were concerned with the relationship between architecture and society. Pugin’s contrasts of contemporary and fifteenth-century architecture illustrated the damaging social divisions of Victorian England and the need to return to medieval architectural forms and religious attitudes. Politically and religiously more ambiguous than Pugin, Ruskin proposed the special ‘Northern Gothic’ character of England where the artistic freedom of the artisan had expressed the coherence of its communities, now lost in industrial servitude. Morris, drawing from Ruskin, emphasised the freedom of labour and became convinced that Socialism was a crucial stage in the Gothic Revival.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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