May 5, 2015

Wonder of Architecture

Library of Virginia

Encyclopaedia Londinensis, or, Universal dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, Vol. II

This volume from the Rare Book Collection at Library of Virginia is part of the Encyclopaedia Londinensis. The twenty-four volume set covers diverse subjects and is laid out with definitions for technical terms and richly illustrated hand colored plates.

The volume opens with this engraving by Richard Corbould. A noted illustrator, Corbould was also a painter of portraits, landscape, and history, and studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1774.

Encyclopaedia Londinensis, Vol. II
 ‘-ensis is a Latin adjectival suffix meaning “pertaining to,” “originating in,” used in modern Latin scientific coinages, esp. derivatives of place names, like London used here. John Wilkes of Milland House compiled information along with engravings to cover a wide variety of topics. Before embarking on this collection, he had collaborated with Peter Barfoot on The Universal British Directory of Trade, Commerce, and Manufacture. The Encyclopedia, which dates from 1810-1829, was printed in London, and sold at the Encyclopedia Office at St. Paul's near Fleet Street and Aldgate.
Components of Architecture
In additional to being a showcase of beautiful architecture engravings, this volume by Wilkes also serves as a specialized text on the mathematics and mechanics of the smaller components and elements, which combine to create wondrous structures.

With measurements included, this plate goes beyond a mere visual comparison of the similarities and differences between Tuscan and Doric, and offers a mathematical breakdown of their proportions.

The Ionic order originated in eastern Greece. Its distinguishing features include slender, fluted pillars as well as volutes, or scrolls.

Classical orders have distinctive mouldings, pedestals and bases which separate them stylistically from each other, and result in varying measurements of each section.

Notably, Corinthian columns include rows of acanthus leaves and four scrolls, along with 24 flutes. This is just one defining characteristic separating the Classical orders.

Doric columns traditionally have 20 flutes, while Ionic and Corinthian have 24 each.

Cross-sections of columns in this plate by T. Sheraton and J. Pass reveal the intricate layers that compose the lower, often over-looked structure of the classical column.

Beyond the defining differences of the columns of the Classical orders, Wilkes' collection of engravings also shows styles and details of these required elements within world examples.

The math shown in this engraved plate is further explained in this video.

In this plate, T. Sheraton and J. Pass contrast the five Classical orders. From left to right, the simplicity of Doric and Tuscan shift to the slightly embellished Ionic capital and end with ornate Corinthian and Composite columns.

A volute is a spiral, scroll-like ornament that forms the basis of the Ionic order, found in the capital of the Ionic column. It was later incorporated into Corinthian order and Composite column capitals. Four are normally to be found on an Ionic capital, eight on Composite capitals and smaller versions (sometimes called helix) on the Corinthian capital.

What else defines the Ionic order? Check out the rest of the gallery for more information.

As the engraved plates move further through the years of architectural design, once-simple components, such as entablatures, become more and more ornate, as in this Norman Gothic example.

Salisbury Cathedral, which can also be seen in this collection, is an example of a completed building in this style.

Building the Great Cathedrals Preview (from PBS)

Non-European architecture is also included, such as this detailed view of a sculpted square pagoda column from what is now Northern India.

Learn more about temple architecture from the Asian Art Museum.

Plans and Contemporary Components
Along with the large collection of Classical architecture pieces, Wilkes also includes plans and components of designs that move from the ancient world through the Middle Ages in Europe.

Can you match up the styles of arches to other images in this Encyclopaedia Londinensis Gallery?

In many of the engraved plates in this section of the volume, components are sketched without intricate measurements, but rather with variations or with buildings in which they would be used.

This section of the Encyclopaedia Londinensis shifts focus from elemental pieces to full-fledged buildings, beginning with this plan and elevation of a Roman Villa.

The volume also contains interior architecture examples, such as this sweeping staircase.

This design for an ornamental ceiling seems as if it could just as easily be wall art, or perhaps even created as a floor mosaic.

This design for a mansion house combines elements of Greek and Roman architecture into a multi-tiered building with the effect of drawing the eye upwards to the ornate domes.

Full Architectural Masterpieces
The volume includes several UNESCO World Heritage sites and other iconic locations in engraved glory. Students of architecture can work to identify the components from earlier in the volume as they combine to create these ornate structures. Students of history can also see many of the structures that feature prominently in cultural studies.
The combination of skyward arches, stained glass, and gray-blue walls in this plate by J. Pass give an airy feel to this UNESCO World Heritage site. The Dominican monastery was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385.
Portico of the Parthenon
This engraving by J. Chapman brings to life the iconic image of the Parthenon as it would have existed before the effects of weather and time. There is now substantial evidence that the statues on the Parthenon were painted in vivid color, so its "perfect state" would be much brighter.

This engraving differs from other representations of the Parthenon, since it depicts the early 1700's conversion into a mosque while under Ottoman rule, rather than remaining an unchanging monument to Ancient Greece.

Video of Blackfriars Bridge (1896) - R.W. Paul | BFI

In this plate, T. Sheraton and J. Pass depict four of the bridges in London that cross the River Thames near the Monument to the Great Fire of London, Shakespeare's Globe, Parliament, and Kew Gardens, respectively.

Somerset Place
This J. Pass engraved plate depicts Somerset Place, which is now known as Somerset House. This Neoclassical building overlooks the River Thames and is located on the site of a former Tudor Palace.  The East Wing forms part of King's College London.
Old Sarum
This image by T. Sheraton and J. Pass depicts Old Sarum. The earliest hillfort on the site may date back to about 400 B.C. and it became known as Sorviodunum under Roman rule.  The castle came to prominence during the Norman Conquest due to its position on the Roman road network. (via

Video: Old Sarum archaeologists reveal plan of medieval city.

Salisbury Cathedral
The Cathedral is home to Britain's tallest spire and best preserved Magna Carta. The majority of the cathedral was built from 1220-1258 in the Early English Gothic style. The chapter house, tower, and spire were completed by 1320. Additional buttressing and structural work has been done since to support the spire. Salisbury Cathedral is one of the inspirations for Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth."
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral, depicted in this engraved plate by J. Pass, is an iconic landmark of London and the masterpiece of Britain's most renowned architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Virginia's famous Renaissance Man Thomas Jefferson is connected to Christopher Wren through shared Classical influences, seen in both the architecture of Monticello and St. Paul's Cathedral. Jefferson lodged in the Sir Christopher Wren Building while attending The College of William & Mary and may have derived inspiration from its Classical balance and forms.
Library of Virginia
Credits: Story

All Images from "Encyclopaedia Londinensis or,
Universal dictionary of arts, sciences, and literature, Volume 2, Architecture" by John Wilkes of Milland House, 1810-1829.

Text and arrangement by Mary Kate du Laney, Audrey McElhinney, and Sonya Coleman for the Library of Virginia.

Imaging by the LVA Photo & Digital Imaging Services Department

For the Library of Virginia

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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