Essays in English Architectural History


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Howard Colvin

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Widely acknowledged as Britain’s leading architectural historian, Sir Howard Colvin has been responsible for fundamental research that has helped to bring about a renaissance in English architectural history in the second half of the twentieth century. In this volume, Colvin gathers eighteen new and revised essays written throughout his distinguished career.
The collection includes five essays never before published, including one which looks afresh at the architectural apparatus of sixteenth-century state entries and another that explores the use of caryatids and other formalized human figures in English architecture from Tudor times onwards.  The author also offers reprinted essays, revised where necessary, on such topics as the idea of a "Court Style" in medieval English architecture, the south front of Wilton House, and the infiltration of the Georgian Office of Works by an architectural pressure group led by Lord Burlington.  Several essays reflect the author's long-standing interest in the problem of the persistence of Gothic architecture in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and its revival in the eighteenth, and another treats his equally long-standing interest in the history of the architectural profession.  The author concludes with his recollections of what can now be seen as a golden age of English architectural research in the years following the Second World War.

Published for the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art

Sir Howard Colvin is Emeritus Fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford University. Formerly reader in architectural history at Oxford, he was knighted in 1995 for services to his field. He is the author of A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600 to 1840 and Architecture and the After-Life, both published by Yale University Press.

"Throughout, the book reveals a keen eye not only for the great set pieces, such as Vanbrugh's wonderful bridge at Blenheim, but for the byways and side alleys of architectural history. In his essays, as in his dictionary, Colvin reminds us that there is far more to architecture than just the work of the familiar household names."—Giles Worsley, Country Life

"The meticulous industry and elegance of [Colvin’s] writing can only be classified as awesome. His achievements are truly stunning and his scholarly contributions are of supreme importance. . . . [Essays in English Architectural History] is a superbly produced, handsomely illustrated, thoroughly annotated, and beautiful book. This reviewer is very happy to add it to his library, and will return to it time and again for balm, information, and delight."—James Stevens Curl, Building Design

"Beautiful for its insights and its images, this elegant, learned work will reward both the scholar and the casual onlooker. With considerable authority, Colvin takes the reader on a journey through English history using the country's architecture as guideposts: its homes, monuments, and churches, its castles, theaters and bridges. Though thoroughly academic, the result is simply delicious, combining Martha Stewart’s eye for detail and an adornment with Julian Barnes’ wordsmithing."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Full of information supporting perceptive insights into societal operations, this collection of Colvin’s numerous essays also exhibits his astute reading of design process and iconographic genealogy. The text is admirably lucid and the preoccupation with the visual signification of architecture is sustained by excellent illustrations. . . . Valuable for scholars and graduate students, the book will please a wide readership. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals."—Choice

ISBN: 9780300070347
Publication Date: July 11, 1999
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art
320 pages, 7 7/8 x 10 1/8
160 b/w illus.