Antonio Gaudi, Architect
Spain is being talked up in my art workshop. A trip is planned in September to visit Madrid and Toledo. It will include a visit to the El Greco Museum and exploration of the works of El Greco that adorn so many sites in Toledo. The old Town is also a treasure of churches, museums, synagogues and mosques set in a labyrinth of narrow streets and plazas in a lofty setting above the River Tajo. There will be opportunity to paint and go on photography walks, engage in lectures and excursions to Toledo venues within walking distance from the 4-star Hotel. Included is a mid-week coach to Madrid to tour the famous Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. The trip sounds magical. My memories were jostled of my travels to Barcelona a couple of years ago and the fascination I experienced with Gaudi’s work. From 1915 Gaudí devoted himself almost exclusively to his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, a synthesis of his architectural evolution.
Sagrada Familia exterior
After completion of the crypt and the apse, still in Gothic style, the rest of the church is conceived in an organic style, imitating natural shapes with their abundance of ruled surfaces.
Sagrada Familia nave roof detail, notice the columns projecting forward
He intended the interior to resemble a forest, with inclined columns like branching trees, helicoidal in form, creating a simple but sturdy structure. Gaudí applied all of his previous experimental findings in this project, from works such as the Park Güell and the crypt of the Colònia Güell, creating a church that is at once structurally perfect, harmonious and aesthetically satisfying.
Reptil Parc Guell, Barcelona
The Sagrada Família has a cruciform plan, with a five-aisled nave, a transept of three aisles, and an apse with seven chapels. It has three facades dedicated to the birth, passion and glory of Jesus, and when completed it will have eighteen towers: four at each side making a total of twelve for the apostles, four on the transept invoking the evangelists and one on the apse dedicated to the Virgin, plus the central tower in honor of Jesus, which will reach 560 ft in height.
Details exterior Sagrada
The church will have two sacristies adjacent to the apse, and three large chapels: one for the Assumption in the apse, and the Baptism and Penitence chapels at the west end; also, it will be surrounded by a cloister designed for processions and to isolate the building from the exterior. Gaudí used highly symbolic content in the Sagrada Família, both in architecture and sculpture, dedicating each part of the church to a religious theme.
One of Gaudi’s drawings of Sagrada Familia
During Gaudí’s life only the crypt, apse and part of the Nativity facade were completed. Upon his death his assistant Domènec Sugrañes took over the construction; thereafter it was directed by various architects. Jordi Bonet i Armengol assumed responsibility in 1987 and continued as of 2011. Artists such as Llorenç and Joan Matamala, Carles Mani, Jaume Busquets, Joaquim Ros i Bofarull, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Maria Subirachs (creator of the Passion facade) have worked on the sculptural decoration. Completion is not expected until at least 2027.
The idea of this historic blog writing began in 2010 with the encouragement of my writer colleagues in CTRWA. These writings and descriptions are meant to be an aid in the development of settings.
Antonio Gaudi, unappreciated in his brief life as an architect. His genius gave life to an edifice in Barcelona, never before done . . . anywhere. We were witness to his genius in 2010.
Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 and Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
Spires of the church.
Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers; the sacristy was damaged, and the fire took 45 minutes to contain.
Stained glass windows
The stained glass windows were placed perfectly to permit sunlight penetration, spreading colors from the stained glass onto the massive columns.
La Sagrada is an architectural wonder, however, yet unfinished. Worth a trip to Barcelona. Then you can see other works of Gaudi’s architectural ingenuity.
You can purchase your ticket on-line the day before to avoid the long lines and make sure you include a trip up to the top of one of the towers for an amazing view!
For those of you who have been and seen, what details were your favorite?
The Gothic style, 1150-1500, originated in France and spread over the whole of western Europe.
Round centered rose medallion colored glass window above the large windows
Tracery sections outlining the center of this window
Gothic art and architecture were the spirit of piety, humility and asceticism, which was the fundamental teaching of the church during the Middle Ages. The style was to appeal to the emotional side of a joyless people who were steeped in ignorance and superstition.
Notre Dame section
Chartres Cathedral, France
Typical architectural features are the pointed arch, ribbed vault, rose medallion windows, tracery and the supporting flying buttresses. Gothic cathedrals are tall, with soaring arches pointing heavenward. Rays of sunlight pour through high, stained-glass windows and bathe the wood, masonry and marble. Walls, columns, entrances and doors are carved with figures and scenes from the Bible.
Not only great cathedrals and abbeys but also hundreds of smaller churches were built in the style. A style that not only was expressed in architecture but in sculpture, painting, and all the minor and decorative arts.
Trinity Church in New York’s Wall Street area at 75 Broadway was built in 1846 by architect Richard Upjohn as Gothic Revival. The Revival style became prevalent from the mid to the end of the nineteenth century.
Have you been to France’s Chartres, Notre Dame or New York’s Trinity Church? Would you like to play hide and seek in one of these buildings?
She was disembarking, but her gown was cumbersome. Charleston, South Carolina seems to have a most unique way to get a bride to the church. Somewhat less than elegant, the bride remained unruffled and finally got to walk into the place she would be joined with her man. Or perhaps she brought her man with her? Disconnected from the man she disembarked with, she does seem rather in a hurry to get into the church.
Quite unique. Don’t you think?
Cromwell was not a hero, but he is known for his religious fanaticism and his influence that changed England from industrial and artistic growth to stagnation.
Charles I, the King and Cromwell’s adversary, was tried and executed in 1649. The English civil war was a time of great destruction of ecclesiastical and private property that was followed by the Protectorate under Cromwell.
The trial of Charles I on 4 January 1649.
Art had been associated with corruption, immorality, and inefficiency. A ban was placed on everything that had any appeal to the senses during Cromwell’s rule 1649-1660.
In 1660 the monarchy was restored, and Charles II was called to the throne. Charles and Louis XIV of France were cousins. Charles loved the dreamy, romantic styles of the French King—in his reaction to the repressed and subdued spirit that had prevailed during Cromwell’s Puritan Protectorate, he endeavored to imitate the lavishness and extravagances of the French court.
Bakery–A Twenty-First Century replacement
The Great Fire of London began on the night of September 2, 1666, as a small fire on Pudding Lane, in the bakeshop of Thomas Farynor, baker to King Charles II. At one o’clock in the morning, a servant woke to find the house aflame, and the baker and his family escaped, but a fear-struck maid perished in the blaze.
Great Fire of London 1666
Detail of the Great Fire of London by an unknown painter, depicting the fire as it would have appeared on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666 from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf. The Tower of London is on the right and London Bridge on the left, with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames.
Advertisement for a comparatively small and manoeuvrable seventeenth-century fire engine on wheels: “These Engines, (which are the best) to quench great Fire; are made by John Keeling in Black Fryers (after many years’ Experience).”
This disastrous fire that destroyed most of London gave impetus to the construction of new homes, public buildings and churches. Sir Christopher Wren, architect, as the leading influence, designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
St Pauls London
Wren was strongly influenced by Palladio, the Italian architect. Palladio’s work was strongly based on the symmetry, perspective and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Charles II supported the art industries, as well as French and Flemish craftsmen.
Canopied bed designed by Daniel Marot
Daniel Marot, French architect, came to England upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Issued on 13 April 1598, by Henry IV of France, it granted the Calvinist Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic.
It’s told that 40,000 French weavers came to England at that time.
Do you know any other great occurrences that came from fires?
To be continued . . .
State bed engraving designed by Daniel Marot for Louis XIV of France
THE GREAT MIGRATION: SHIPS TO NEW ENGLAND 1633-35
Harrison House, Branford, CT
It an amazing story of Providence and the skill of English seamen that dozens of Atlantic ocean passages were made in little wooden ships bringing our Puritan ancestors to America almost without mishap in the 1630’s; the unhappy exception being the harrowing story of the Angel Gabriel, 1635, which met a terrible storm and cast up on the coast of Maine with only a few survivors.
There were perhaps 30,000 emigrants from England to New England before the English Civil War. These folks were mainly from the English middle-class, self-reliant and motivated to find a place where they might live, worship, and raise their families without government harassment. This movement of people is called the Great Migration.
Their motivation was religious, political, and economic. The British church and government was becoming insufferably hierarchical, tyrannical, and tax-hungry. Common resentment among the English people led soon to the English Revolution beginning in 1642, and eventually to the beheading of King Charles for treason in 1649, after agents intercepted his secret invitations to foreign kings and armies, that they invade England, crush Parliament and the English Constitution, massacre his English opponents, and restore Charles to his pretended Dei gratia royal privileges. Charles Stuart continued incorrigibly to hold his dynastic interest separate and above those of Parliament and the British people, and ultimately Parliament had no alternative but to end his conspiracies with an axe.
King Charles I of England
Son of James and Anne. A well-intentioned knave, he was captivated by his Catholic bride Henriette-Marie, who led him to treason and death, and all England to civil war.
The Great Migration ended at the start of the English Civil War. Then for a time in the 1640’s was hope rekindled in the people that they might live in liberty in England, and the flow of emigrants ceased, in fact reversed. Many brave New Englishmen and their sons returned to fight in England to uphold Parliament and the Commonwealth. The true history of the British Commonwealth has been an unwelcome topic in Britain since the restoration of monarchy, 1661. But that is another story…
GREAT MIGRATION PASSENGERS BY SURNAME
The migration included over 1500 persons from England to New England during the years 1632-1635. I found the name Harrison on a passenger list, who with his family headed east from New Haven, Connecticut and helped to settle Branford in 1644.
My hubby, Thomas Harrison Claus has lots of Harrison descendants here from abroad. As noted above, the Harrison’s were included in the migration and came over on one of the Puritan’s ships from Darby, England, and boy did they rock the boat. They raised their children who spread their wings and founded Newark, New Jersey. We were bowled over when we saw Richard Harrison’s name on a plaque in Newark as a founder. And there was a cemetery in Essex Fells, New Jersey that had interred many of the Harrisons’.
Captain Thomas Harrison Branford, Connecticut
So, who was this Captain Thomas Harrison?
It’s a fantasy . . . . When we told my hubby’s mother we were moving to Connecticut from New Jersey, she mentioned the Harrison’s lived there generations ago. There it was, the Harrison house, well preserved right on Main Street in Branford as a antique home and museum, open to public for tours. But the best part was the library of the family right there on a bookcase in the kitchen. And it had the writings of a Captain Thomas Harrison who had the last entry in the late 19th century, ending with, “I hope someone will continue the Harrison history.”
Now, I have more about this Captain Thomas Harrison, but you’ll have to come back next week to hear the rest of the story.
Do you know anything about Captain Thomas Harrison?
Durham Castle–later a Cathedral (note crenelation on top edges, typical of fortified structures)
Durham Castle, seen here with its crenelated top edge was fortification.The Normans, upon conquering England, fortifications came first, they provided shelter and protection. But churches were also built, small and grand. Medieval churches were often hurried affairs in a wood design, replaced later with rusticated stone. The churches eventually grew into cathedrals, larger than life structures. Since religion was the dominant interest of Europe, architecture consisted primarily of church construction.
Bracewell in Lancashire church
Bracewell is a small village just northwest of Barnoldswick, Lancashire. The church of St Michael’s is a lovely old Norman building, dating to around the year 1100. It was not established as a parish church, but as a private chapel for the Tempest family.
St Michael stained-glass can be seen from inside the church.
Greensted Church north wall – wood
It has been told that Greensted Church, in the small village of Greensted-juxta-Ongar, near Chipping Ongar in Essex, England, is the oldest wooden church in the world and probably the oldest wooden building in Europe still standing, albeit only in part, since few sections of its original wooden structure remain. The oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church, dated either to the mid-9th or mid-11th century. Its full title is The Church of St Andrew, Greensted-juxta-Ongar. It is, however, commonly known simply as Greensted Church. Greensted is still a functioning church and holds services every week. The most interesting feature is probably the south doorway, which is typically Norman, the chancel arch, also Norman, and the tower arch, which dates to the 14th century and an early example of the soon to come Pointed Gothic style. Very little of the original medieval glass remains, but there are fragments of 14th century glass depicting coats of arms of local gentry. The nave pews are by the famed Kilburn woodworker, Rober Thompson, aka ‘The Mouseman’, and show Thompson’s favoured mouse motif. The church was featured on a British postage stamp issued in 1972.
This is the Cathedral side of the ‘castle’ seen above in the first image. Durham Cathedral replaced the 10th century “White Church”, built as part of a monastic foundation to house the Shrine of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. The Chapter Library contains one of the most complete sets of early printed books in England, the pre-Dissolution monastic accounts, and three copies of the Magna Carta. Durham Cathedral occupies a strategic position on a promontory high above the River Wear. From 1080 until the 19th century the bishopric enjoyed the powers of a Bishop Palatine, having military as well as religious leadership and power. It was built as the residence for the Bishop of Durham. Initially, a very simple temporary structure was built from local timber to house the relics of Cuthbert. The shrine was then transferred to a sturdier, probably wooden, building known as the White Church, later replaced by a stone building by the same name. The flow of money from pilgrims of power embodied in the church ensure that a town formed around the cathedral, establishing the early core of the modern city.
Durham interior zigzag and diamond patterns incised on columns and arches. Ceiling ribs have the patterns incised as well.
The current Cathedral was designed and built under William of Calais, who was appointed as the first prince-bishop by William the Conqueror in 1080. Since then, major additions and reconstruction has been prevalent. But, the greater part of the structure remains true to the Norman Design. This is a term related to the styles of Romanesque architecture by the Normans in lands under their influence in the 11th and 12th centuries.
There were other structures as well, all characterized by the usual Romanesque rounded arches particularly over windows and doorways.
The buildings show massive proportions in simple geometries, the masonry with small bands of sculpture, perhaps as blind arcading, and concentrated spaces of capitals and round doorways and in the tympanum under an arch. The “Norman arch” is the round arch and sometimes slightly pointed as in the Durham interior ceiling here above. Norman mouldings are carved or incised with geometric ornament, such as chevron patterns, frequently termed “zig-zag mouldings”. The cruciform churches often had deep chancels and a square crossing tower which has remained a feature of English ecclesiastical architecture. Hundreds of parish churches were built and the great English cathedrals were founded from 1083. As Gothic with its pointed arches became more popular, Norman eventually became a modest style of provincial building.
Do you have a favorite ecclesiastical architecture, past or present?
Look for more next week…
L‘église Notre Dame d’Esperance (The Church of Notre Dame d’Esperance)
- Cannes church arch
“Architecture, church architecture, describes visually the idea of the sacred, which is a fundamental need of man. Mankind has been capable of creating for itself this very particular kind of space. There is a great mystery in a church. For me it is a great privilege to be confronted with the design of a church, because it shelters the most powerful themes of humanity: birth, marriage, death.” By Mario Botta, Architect, in the book, Churches, by Judith Dupre (2001).
Perched at the top of Le Suquet hill overlooking Cannes, France is the centuries old Église Notre Dame d’Esperance. Église is French for ‘church.’ The church on the hill above the old port was originally a fortress, erected in the 11th century, to protect what was at the time a fortified village. The structure was both offensive and defensive providing a base from which raids could be launched as well as protection from enemies such as pirates and invasions. The design of the fortress is medieval, probably originally built with earth and timber, replaced later with rusticated stone as you see it today—where the front facade is early Gothic and has pointed spheres soaring heavenward. Stained-glass windows are prevalent in traditional Gothic where rays of sunlight pour through the high stained-glass, rose-medallion windows and buttresses support the structure. Over the centuries, the church, which was used by fishermen for prayer, was referred to as Suquet Castle. The bell tower was completed in the 14th century. The clock was added to the bell tower later, probably around 1815, about the time Napoleon visited and marched through the town. It has been a fortress, a monks’ castle, the church mentioned here, and now a cinema/museum.
The interior of the church displays art works, busts, and altarpieces. On the High Altar stands St Anne and a 17th century statue of a “Vierge Couronnée,” (Virgin with a crown) holding a ship’s anchor. There is a selection of 19th century paintings including a fresco by George Roux depicting the baptism of Jesus. The eight chapels of the church have links to the craft guilds of France going back to the 17th Century. One end of the church has a Romanesque chapel used years ago as a refuge. Inside the chapel, boat models sit at the feet of the Saints. This was when downtown Cannes was created—before that the main village was in the Saint Cassien neighborhood, which is around the Cannes airport. For centuries the main city in the region was Grasse, located 15 km to the north of Cannes.
About Cannes Le Suquet is the old quarter of Cannes, probably best known to tourists as the climbing, winding cobbled lane, Rue St Antoine, a pedestrian street lined with local restaurants. At the bottom of Le Suquet on Rue Dr. P. Gazagnaire is the Marché Forville, where the market is held in the mornings and early afternoon. The area was the original fisherman’s residential area of Cannes. The streets were laid out at least 400 years ago—some of the houses could be 200 years old. It is a 5-minute walk from the beach. Much of the area is pedestrianized and is a major tourist attraction. The Rue du Suquet is the original main road into Cannes.
Cannes was made popular as a resort when former British Royal Chancellor Lord Brougham stayed there from 1834. He popularized the town amongst royalty, artists and writers. Since then it has been visited by the rich and famous for the great winter climate. Prosper Mérimée, Guy de Maupassant, Domergue, Chateaubriand, JMW Turner, Victor Hugo, Stendhal, Picabia, Renoir and Picasso have connections with Cannes. The French government decided to create an international film festival just before the Second World War and chose Cannes for its location on the Riviera. The plans were put on hold until the end of the war, and in 1946 the first Film Festival was held. This gave Cannes the status of a city for movie stars, which attracted a lot of tourism. High-end hotels, restaurants and luxury shops developed and the reputation of Cannes as a city for the wealthy spread even more. Today Cannes is still just that: a town living on high end tourism. Each year in July during the “Nuits Musicales du Suquet” classical music is played on the square outside the church. Have you been to Cannes? What do you know about the film festival?
Sagrada Familia Church, Barcelona, Spain
Antonio Gaudi died under the wheels of a tram and was to be buried in an unknown grave. Yet, he is known for his Barcelona Gaudi Architecture – Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló in Barcelona. He was an enthusiast of the nineteenth century popular style of Art Nouveau, a style celebrating art for art’s sake. A style that did not relate to any designs of the past. The style was an invention of a new kind of ornament based on the asymmetrical flowing lines of plant forms. Gaudi impressed the architectural community with his wild, vehement and whimsical forms of the curls and furls of the style. The stone and iron used in his work were bent and warped creating surfaces of great complexity that flow like molten lava. He used outlandish, original, colored mosaics and toyed with ideas in architecture, both interior and exterior, that bring visitors and tourists to Barcelona by the millions.
Unless you have been there, you cannot possibly imagine the overwhelming pomposity, grandeur, and fantasy of this church. I have traveled the world over, from the USA to England, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Bangladesh, Africa, and to other countries. I have seen churches, I have studied churches, I have painted churches . . . and to clarify before you have a chance to verify, the churches I painted were on canvas. Never have I seen, explored, or experienced any like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. His work has been described as “melted butter.” The towers here, in the above image, with the rippling contours of the stone facade make it look as though Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun.
The holy figures of stone imbedded into the fascia are unbelievable. From afar, the details blur some. This image shows the details. The church began its life in 1882. From 1883 Gaudi worked on the architecture until his death. He left a legacy of information. The church, in the lower level, has models, architectural drawings, and yards and yards and yards of information to continue building to completion. And so it goes. There are always cranes on site. Always workers on site, always lines of onlookers on site. The church is open to the public everyday all year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Gaudí’s funeral (12 June 1926)
On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to the Sant Felip Neri church for his habitual prayer and confession. While walking along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between Girona and Bailén streets, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid. Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to the Santa Creu Hospital, where he received rudimentary care. By the time that the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, Mosén Gil Parés, recognised him on the following day, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely to benefit from additional treatment. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73 and was buried two days later. A large crowd gathered to bid farewell to him in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.
Gaudi is dead, long live Gaudi.
Roof architecture at Casa Batllo
The towers of Sagrada Familia can be seen from almost everywhere in Barcelona. Buildings . . .architecture, set the tone, the culture, for a town, a city, a country. Architecture is a live, breathing, functioning sculpture. You cannot hold it in your hand, but you can become part of it. You can love it, hate it, tolerate it, but like it or not, architecture sets the pace by which you live and survive.
Are you familiar with the architecture surrounding you? Are you aware that architecture is public art?