[In the following passages I have put “Caen” in boldface type. — GPL]

The Seven Lamps of Architecture

From the Preface:

I have considered, first, the cities of the Val d'Arno, as representing the Italian Romanesque and pure Italian Gothic; Venice and Verona as representing the Italian Gothic colored by Byzantine elements; and Rouen, with the associated Norman cities, Caen, Bayeux, and Coutances, as representing the entire range of Northern architecture from the Romanesque to Flamboyant. [§ 5, 8.6 full text surounding this passage]

From Chapter I, “The Lamp of Sacrifice”:

It may be that we do not desire ornament of so high an order; choose, then, a less developed style, also, if you will, rougher material; the law which we are enforcing requires only that what we pretend to do and to give, shall both be the best of their kind; choose, therefore, the Norman hatchet work, instead of the Flaxman frieze and statue, but let it be the best hatchet work; arid if you cannot afford marble, use Caen stone, but from the best bed; and if not stone, brick, but the best brick; preferring always what is good of a lower order of work or material, to what is bad of a higher; for this is not only the way to improve every kind of work, and to put every kind of material to better use; but it is more honest and unpretending, and is in harmony with other just, upright, and manly principles, whose range we shall have presently to take into consideration. [8.45 — full text surounding this passage]]

From Chapter II, “The Lamp of Truth”:

I have given, in Plate VII. fig. 3, 2 an interesting case of rude penetration of a high and simply trefoiled shield, from the church of the Eremitani at Padua. But the more frequent and typical form is that of the double sub-arch, decorated with various piercings of the space between it and the superior arch; with a simple trefoil under a round arch, in the Abbaye aux Hommes [photograph], Caen (Plate III. fig. 1) [8.89: full text surounding this passage]

From Chapter III, “The Lamp of Power”:

[I]f breadth is to be beautiful, its substance must in some sort be beautiful; and we must not hastily condemn the exclusive resting of the northern architects in divided lines, until at least we have remembered the difference between a blank surface of Caen stone, and one mixed from Genoa and Carrara, of serpentine with snow: but as regards abstract power and awfulness, there is no question; without breadth of surface it is in vain to seek them, and it matters little, so that the surface be wide, bold and unbroken, whether it be of brick or of jasper; the light of heaven upon it, and the weight of earth in it, are all we need: for it is singular how forgetful the mind may become both of material and workmanship, if only it have space enough over which to range, and to remind it, however feebly, of the joy that it has in contemplating the flatness and sweep of great plains and broad seas. And it is a noble thing for men to do this with their cut stone or moulded clay, and to make the face of a wall look infinite, and its edge against the sky like an horizon: or even if less than this be reached, it is still delightful to mark the play of passing light on its broad surface, and to see by how many artifices and gradations of tinting and shadow, time and storm will set their wild signatures upon it; and how in the rising or declining of the day the unbroken twilight rests long and luridly on its high lineless forehead, and fades away untracea bly down its tiers of confused and countless stone.

Modern Painters, Volume IV

§ 20. Glancing broadly over the strength of the medižval — that is to say, of the peculiar and energetic — art of Europe, so as to discern, through the clear flowing of its waves over France, Italy, and England, the places in the pool where the fountain-heads are, and where the sand dances, I should first point to Normandy and Tuscany. From the cathedral of Pisa, and the sculpture of the Pisans, the course is straight to Giotto, Angelico, and Raphael,—to Orcagna and Michael Angelo; — the Venetian school, in many respects mightier, being, nevertheless, subsequent and derivative. From the cathedrals of Caen and Coutances the course is straight to the Gothic of Chartres and Notre Dame of Paris, and thence forward to all French and English noble art, whether ecclesiastical or domestic. Now the mountain scenery about Pisa is precisely the most beautiful that surrounds any great Italian city, owing to the wonderful outlines of the peaks of Carrara. Milan and Verona have indeed fine ranges in sight, but rising farther in the distance, and therefore not so directly affecting the popular mind. The Norman imagination, as already noticed, is Scandinavian in origin, and fostered by the lovely granite scenery of Normandy itself. But there is, nevertheless, this great difference between French art and Italian, that the French paused strangely at a certain point, as the Norman hills are truncated at the summits, while the Italian rose steadily to a vertex, as the Carrara hills to their crests.

The Stones of Venice

Volume I. From an attack on Pugin, who shared argued that many ideas and emphases with Ruskin, “Kirkham was spoilt through several hundred pounds being reduced on the original estimate;” to which Ruskin responded:

Is that so? Phidias can niche himself into the corner of a pediment, and Raffaelle expatiate within the circumference of a clay platter; but Pugin is inexpressible in less than a cathedral? Let his ineffableness be assured of this, once for all, that no difficulty or restraint ever happened to a man of real power, but his power was the more manifested in the contending with, or conquering it; and that there is no field so small, no cranny so contracted, but that a great spirit can house and manifest itself therein. The thunder that smites the Alp into dust, can gather itself into the width of a golden wire. Whatever greatness there was in you, had it been Buonarroti’s own, you had room enough for it in a single niche: you might have put the whole power of it into two feet cube of Caen stone. St. George’s was not high enough for want of money? But was it want of money that 387 made you put that blunt, overloaded, laborious ogee door into the side of it? Was it for lack of funds that you sunk the tracery of the parapet in its clumsy zigzags? Was it in parsimony that you buried its paltry pinnacles in that eruption of diseased crockets? or in pecuniary embarrassment that you set up the belfry foolscaps, with the mimicry of dormer windows, which nobody can ever reach nor look out of? Not so, but in mere incapability of better things.

Volume II, n 69: “Salisbury spire is only a tower with a polygonal gabled roof of stone, and so also the celebrated spires of Caen and Coutances/”


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Last modified 26 June 2010