The antiquities of Athens (1762/1794) by Stuart, James, 1713-1788. and Revett, Nicholas, 1720-1804.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Overstone Library
Our Overstone Library is an excellent example of a 19th-century gentleman's library with many significant books of learning.
Take The Antiquities of Athens by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett. They pioneered British Neoclassicism by giving accurate examples of Greek architecture.
The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia (1855/1856) by Roberts, David, 1796-1864.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Overstone Library
Some of the earliest architects were Ancient Egyptians, and they were certainly among the first to use columns.
The Dendera temple (c. 380 BC) shown in this image was captured as a coloured lithograph by the 19th-century Scottish painter David Roberts.
The history of the abbey church of St. Peter's Westminster (1812) by Combe, William, 1742-1823.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Overstone Library
Lost arts: looking into the past
This image of the North Rose Window in Westminster Abbey shows how it looked before a redesign in the 19th-century.
The stained-glass window showing figures of Jesus, the Apostles and Evangelists was created in 1722 by the father-and-son glass painters Joshua and William Price.
Vedute di Roma (1748/1788) by Piranesi, Giovanni Battista, 1720-1778.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Overstone Library
Views of Rome
Venetian architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi worked on his book, Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), between 1747 and his death in 1778. With prints like this, of the Vatican Basilica, he revolutionised both the world's ideas of Rome and the standard of architectural printmaking.
Plans, elevations, sections, and details of the Alhambra (1842/1845) by Goury, Jules, 1803-1834.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Overstone Library
Just as Piranesi was captivated by classical Roman architecture, Jules Goury and Owen Jones were enchanted by the Islamic architecture of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
The chromolithographs beautifully demonstrate the details and polychromy (several colours) of the buildings.
Rules and examples of perspective proper for painters and architects, etc. (1707) by Pozzo, Andrea, 1642-1709.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Henley Parish Library
An illusory ceiling
Andrea Pozzo painted a famous ceiling in the church of Sant’Ignazio in Rome. The ceiling was completely flat, but Pozzo designed it to look like a dome. He repeats the same trick here in his book Prospettiva de’ pittori e architetti.
Musurgia universalis (1650) by Kircher, Athanasius, 1602-1680.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Henley Parish Library
Not all the buildings you see in our books are real. This image shows an elaborate practical joke design by 17th century polymath Athanasius Kircher. His idea was to use tubes to feed the sound of the street through the walls and sound like it came from the mouths of statues.
I dieci libri dell'architettura (1567) by Vitruvius Pollio.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Reserve Collection
Classics in print
Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman architect living in the 1st century BC. We can remember him today because his book De architectura was passed down in manuscript form for 1500 years before it was first printed in Latin in 1486. This edition, an Italian translation, is from 1567.
Old England : a pictorial museum of regal, ecclesiatical, municipal, baronial, and popular antiquities (1864) by Knight, Charles, 1791-1873.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Printing Collection
Inside the Inner Temple
Our Printing Collection is full of extraordinary feats of printing. This book, Old England, produced by Charles Knight in the mid-19th-century is noteworthy for just how full it is of images. From tiny woodcuts to full colour plates such as this, no expense was spared.
Student looking at The grammar of ornament by Owen Jones in the Reading Room (1856) by Jones, Owen, 1809-1874.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections
Bringing the world together
In his masterpiece The Grammar of Ornament, Owen Jones compiled what he saw as the best designs from different cultures. These included architectural features and decorations such as stained glass, mosaic and sculptures.
This illustration (plate 36) is from Turkish designs.
Microcosm of London (1808/1810) by Pyne, W.H. (William Henry), 1769-1843.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Printing Collection
Same as it ever was?
Looking at the House of Commons in London, as shown in Microcosm of London, published in the 1810s, we can instantly recognise its similarities with how it is today.
This is despite the fact that the Chamber had to be rebuilt after World War II by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.
Wren's city churches (1883) by Mackmurdo, A.H. (Arthur Heygate), 1851-1942.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Printing Collection
The influence of Wren
This book, Wren’s City Churches, lists churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
It was written by the Art Nouveau pioneer, Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, who evocatively titled his illustration of St Paul’s Cathedral as ‘Soul strivings from struggle into calm'.
The Art journal illustrated catalogue : the Industry of All Nations 1851 (1851) by Hall, S.C. (Samuel Carter), 1800-1889.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Great Exhibition Collection
From our Great Exhibition Collection, this book includes illustrations of the interior of the Crystal Palace in 1851, purpose-built and designed by Joseph Paxton as the exhibition's centrepiece where the exhibits were shown.
The Palace burnt down in 1936 and was lost to history.
The stones of Venice (1886) by Ruskin, John, 1819-1900.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Reserve Collection
Nature and architecture
Art critic, John Ruskin, had long been occupied with the overlap between the natural world and the built environment. In this book The Stones of Venice, he used the city’s buildings to exemplify beauty in architecture and argued that it was all derived from nature.
The art and practice of landscape gardening (1890) by Milner, Henry Ernest, 1845-1906.Original Source: University of Reading Special Collections: Reserve Collection
As the design of buildings is always developing, so is garden design and landscape architecture. In his book The Art and Practice of Landscape Gardening (1890), Henry Ernest Milner reinterpreted the design of the English formal garden.
Visit our web pages on the Overstone Library, the Printing Collection, the Reserve Collection, Henley Parish Library and the Great Exhibition Collection to learn more about the collections included in this Story.
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To find out more about some of the items included in this story, follow the links below:
The grammar of ornament by Owen Jones
Rules and examples of perspective proper for painters and architects by Andrea Pozzo
Musurgia universalis by Athanasius Kircher
Old England by Charles Knight
The microcosm of London by Rudolph Ackermann