Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The marvelous creations of Pugin, and other photos: part 2

The onslaught of Pugin masterpieces continues! See here if you missed the first entry.

Another sample of Pugin's domestic work: the King's Room at Scarisbrick Hall. It was one of three reception rooms used to showcase the family's collection of church woodworkings imported from the Continent. Above the door are paintings of King Henry VIII, his wives, and progeny.

An illustration for the front page of Pugin's "Gothic Furniture", a set of illustrations on the Gothic revival applied to household items.

A jewelry set Pugin fashioned for one of his wives, I believe. Includes necklaces, earrings, brooches, and bracelets.

There are already plenty of pictures online of Pugin's chasubles (priestly vestments). I decided to instead post one of the dalmatics he designed. These are the vestments worn by a deacon in solemn high Mass.

The Peers' Lobby, an antechamber in Parliament where the lords assemble before entering the House of Lords.

An illustration of the House of Commons chamber as designed by Pugin (subsequently destroyed by bombing during World War II). Certainly looks a lot richer than the current version.

A photograph of how the House of Commons looked before the war.

Portrait of the Most Rev. Robert Willson, first Bishop of Hobart, Australia, and one of Pugin's greatest supporters. He's seen here in Pugin's vestments.

An episcopal ring worn by Bishop Willson in the previous portrait.

An altar for a private chapel at Alton Towers. Lord and Lady Shrewsbury, more of Pugin's patrons, are portrayed at either side of the crucifix in medieval dress.

The chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at the church of Saint Giles, Cheadle.


  1. That chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is wonderful, the geometric proportions are just perfect for the size of the room.

  2. Re: Pugin's Gothic Furniture (1827), this was written and published by AWN Pugin's father, I believe. Moreover, I think it is more illustrative of Neo-Gothic design than true Gothic. The former was often excessively ornate, reflecting the conspicuous consumption of the Victorian bourgeouis more than the gravitas, propriety and temperance of the Middle Ages. As AWN himself remarks in The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841):

    "The modern admirers of the Gothic style have done much injury to its revival by the erroneous and costly system they have pursued: the interiors of their houses are one mass of elaborate work; there is no repose, no solidity, no space left for hangings or simple panels; the whole is covered with trifling details, enormously expensive, and at the same time subversive of good effect. These observations apply equally to furniture; - upholseters seem to think that nothing can be Gothic unless it is found in some church. Hence your modern man designs a sofa or occasional table from details culled out of Britton’s cathedrals, and all the ordinary articles of furniture, which require to be simple and convenient, are made not only very expensive but very uneasy. We find diminutive flying buttresses about an armchair; everything is crocketed with angular projections, innumerable mitres, sharp ornaments, and turreted extremities. A man who remains any length of time in a modern Gothic room and escapes without being wounded by some of its minutiae, may consider himself extremely fortunate."

    After some further digressions comes this interesting admission:

    "I have perpetrated many of these enormities in the furniture I designed years ago for Windsor Castle. At the time I had not the least ideas of the principles I am now explaining; all my knowledge of Pointed Architecture was confined to a tolerably good notion of details in the abstract; but these I employed with so little judgment or propriety, that, although the parts were correct and exceedingly well executed, collectively they appeared a complete burlesque of pointed design."

    So, as regards the senior Pugin's book of "Gothic" furniture, I think there are two serious questions to be asked (solely in our shared pursuit of truth and good taste, of course): first, if C. Pugin had a firm grasp on true Gothic, how could it be that young AWN "had not the least idea"? Even granting youthful enthusiasm, it seems likely that AWN absorbed both his technical proficiency and his misconceptions from his father. This obviously leads to a second question: are the renderings given in "Pugin's Gothic Furniture" (including the frontispiece you've posted) models of true Gothic, or do they tend towards the "burlesque of pointed design"?

    That aside, I love your series on Pugin. I am writing a short paper on Gothic design, relying heavily on AWN; perhaps I could send it your way when it's done?