Repetition, Revival, Reconstruction: The Visual Culture of Architecture 1750-1900

14 June 2019, 09:15 - 18:00

Seminar Room SG2, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

The registration is now closed.

A conference organized by the HERA network printing the past: Architecture, print culture and uses of the past in modern europe and the re-interdisciplinary network


Professsor Caroline Van Eck (Department History of Art, University of Cambridge)
Dr Maude Bass-Krueger (History of Art Department, Leiden University)


Professor Tim  Anstey (Oslo School of Architecture)

Dr Basile Baudez (Princeton University)

Dr Sarah Betzer (McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia)

Professor Mari Hvattum (Architecture, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design)

Professor Mari Lending (Oslo School of Architecture)

Professor Victor Plate Tschudi (Oslo School of Architecture)

Dr Charlotte Ribeyrol (Oxford/Sorbonne Université)








The Great Bookcase, front view, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.











Constant Moyaux. India ink and watercolour, 1886.



Limited places. Please Book via email to reserve a place.
Joint event organised by Prof Caroline van Eck and 'Re-' Interdisciplinary Network.
Administrative assistance:

CRASSH is not responsible for the content of external websites and readings. All speakers' views are their own.



9:15 - 9.30

Registration (coffee)

9.30 - 9.45


Clare Foster (CRASSH Re-Interdisciplinary Network)

Caroline van Eck (HERA)

9.45 - 10.45


Mari Hvattum (Oslo School of Architecture)

'Style and Solitude'

10.45 - 11.15

Charlotte Ribeyrol (Oxford/Sorbonne Université)

'Narrating the Colours of the Past: William Burges's Pagan and Christian Origins of Architecture'

11.15 - 11.45

Tea/Coffee break

11.45 - 12.00

Basile Baudez (Princeton)

'Color and Architectural Reproduction in 18th-Century Europe'

12.00 - 12.45

Sarah Betzer (McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia)

'Mobile Marble: Robert Adam, Thomas Patch, and the Staging of Antiquity'

12.45 - 14.00

Lunch break

14.00 - 15.00

Walk through College Gardens

15.00 - 15.45

Mari Lending (Oslo School of Architecture)

'Plaster Origins, in Print'

15.45 - 16.30

Tim Anstey (Oslo School of Architecture)

'The Tenant’s Fittings: Re-Enactment and Re-Inscription at the Warburg Institute'

16.30 - 17.15

Victor Plate Tschudi (Oslo School of Architecture)

'Print Memories: Freud, Goethe, Piranesi'

17.15 -

Concluding Remarks

Mari Hvattum (Oslo School of Architecture)
'Style and Solitude'

How is it that we can appreciate art from the past? This seemingly naïve question was posed by the Austrian art historian Alois Riegl in 1903. If art belongs to its time; if each epoch has its own unique expression and its particular Kunstwollen, then logically, the past should be inaccessible to us. How come it is not? This lecture looks into Riegl's theory of style and Gottfried Semper's "mystery of transfiguration" in order to address this critical question.

Charlotte Ribeyrol (Oxford/Sorbonne-Université)
'Narrating the Colours of the Past: William Burges's Pagan and Christian Origins of Architecture'

On May 24 1862 The Builder reported upon a lecture on the use of colour in 'Pagan art' delivered by the 'art-architect' William Burges. Debates about the polychromy of ancient Greek art had indeed been revived by Owen Jones's polychrome niche for John Gibson's Tinted Venus on display at the London International Exhibition. In keeping with this chromatic experiment, Burges asked : 'Why should we not polychrome our buildings ?' By using the archeological term 'polychrome' as a transitive verb rather than as an adjective, Burges sided with the chromophiles who believed that colour should also shape the future of art and architecture in an industrial world whose monochromatic gloominess he himself often denounced in Ruskinian terms. 

But the Greek past was not the only colourful period Burges turned to. That same year he designed the Medieval court of the International Exhibition in which he placed his own Great Bookcase (1859-61, Ashmolean Museum) modelled on a Gothic polychrome armoire from Noyon. This piece of furniture, painted by no fewer than fourteen different artists, consists of eight painted panels allegorically illustrating the Pagan and Christian origins of the arts of poetry, painting, sculpture and architecture. In this paper I wish to argue that each of these panels, and in particular the two panels dedicated to architecture (St John and the New Jerusalem by Simeon Solomon and Rhodopis commissioning a pyramid by Edward Poynter) can translate as chromatic narratives about the past legitimizing Burges's own colourful artistic practice.

Basile Baudez (Princeton)
'Color and Architectural Reproduction in 18th-Century Europe'

By definition, architectural information can be conveyed without any loss without the use of other colors than black and white. This communication will attempt to analyze the role and the reasons of the use of color in architectural representations, notably in prints. We will specifically study a series of hand-colored engravings of Grands Prix from the French Academy of Architecture published at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Sarah Betzer (McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia)
Mobile Marble: Robert Adam, Thomas Patch, and the Staging of Antiquity

The biographies of eighteenth-century figures Robert Adam and Thomas Patch prominently feature physical displacement, and their work likewise appealed to (and arguably depended upon) cosmopolitan mobility. Patch, who reputedly made his way on foot from Exeter to Rome in 1747, made a name for himself, after settling in Florence in 1755, painting conversation pictures of English gentlemen on the Grand Tour. Adam, who returned to Britain from Italy in 1758, would go on to create interiors shaped by his Italian experiences for a clientele responsive to these resonant forms. In important work dating from the 1760's, Adam and Patch both took on monumental work that allowed them to consider the uses of the past – and specifically the antique – for contemporary beholders. At the center of this paper are two marble halls: Robert Adam's Great Hall at Syon house designed in 1761, completed in 1769, engraved by Piranesi (and others), and published by Adam in The Works in Architecture of Robert & James Adam (volumes 1 of 1773/8 and 2 of 1779); and that painted by Thomas Patch in his large-scale conversation picture, Dilettanti in a Sculpture Hall (c. 1760/1).

As the cases of these two marble halls attest, in the hands of Adam and Patch, antiquity – as invoked in architectural design, decoration, and in sculptural installation therein – was not only constituted as marble and sculptural, but was also, as this paper shall explore, profoundly intermedial. Both Adam's work at Syon and Patch's Dilettanti were intimately engaged with the circulation of the antique in a range of reproductive media, including, crucially, period prints. This paper explores the mobility of the antique as it was conceived by Patch and Adam – between and across England and Italy – and as it was redoubled, or made doubly mobile and expansively resonant thanks to its mobility – by way of technologies of reproduction that at once multiplied and made newly mutable ostensibly immobile marble forms.

Mari Lending (Oslo School of Architecture)
'Plaster Origins, in Print'

In the nineteenth century, fragments, ruins, and architectural structures from Assyria and Egypt through to the Renaissance were subject to a lively industry of reproduction. Enormous plaster casts on full scale were circulated across the Western world, enhancing the effect and celebrity of dilapidated originals. Changes in taste, but also the banning of casting as one realized how the moulds destroyed the fragile surfaces of ancient fragments, put an end to the casting industry. Today, however, new plaster productions are being made from drawings in the Drawing Matter Collection, evoking, in weird ways, the ideals of pristine states that were once in play in the casts courts.

Tim Anstey (Oslo School of Architecture)
'The Tenant’s Fittings: Re-Enactment and Re-Inscription at the Warburg Institute'

This paper considers the way in which re-enactment and re-inscription characterize the architectural projects that developed around the Warburg Institute. While studies have been done on how the current Warburg Institute building in Bloomsbury repeats characteristics of the original Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg in Hamburg, my work analyses six architectural “essays” that involved Warburg and his disciples – Fritz Saxl, and, particularly, Gertrud Bing – as a series of projects linked by overlaps, repetitions and translations.

From Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg, designed and built between 1923 and 1926, through the amazing scheme that Warburg and Saxl worked out for the Hamburg Planetarium, completed in 1931 after Warburg's death, to the re-housing of the Warburg Library at Thames House in London in 1934; and from a previously undiscovered design for a cottage that Bing and Saxl commissioned together in 1935, through the temporary location of the Warburg at the Imperial Institute in Kensington from 1937, to the various schemes for a new building for the Institute that Saxl and Bing worked on with the University of London between 1944 and 1958, live architectural projects occupied the directors of the Warburg Institute for over 25 years. In the buildings and interiors they commissioned and altered, patterns can be seen in which particular sets of sensibilities are repeated, and in which particular rituals of use are invented and re-enacted. While certain aspects of this repetition seem related to Aby Warburg’s intellectual legacy, particularly his fascination with mnemosyne, a preoccupation also emerges with the power of gesture and the significance of repetition in the experience of the everyday. The essay identifies this quality particularly with Bing’s agency in these collaborative projects over the whole period of the study.

While the work makes use of authoritative work on the rich history of the Warburg Institute, particularly recent studies by Elisabeth Sears, Emily Levine and Claudia Wedepohl, its main contribution is to bring together architectural plans and drawings from six architectural projects and to attempt careful readings of these in combination.

Victor Plahte Tschudi (Oslo School of Architecture)
'Freud, Goethe, Piranesi: Remembering by Print"

Goethe referred several times to Piranesi in his Italian Journey. The text related his stay in Italy in the 1780s but it was revised and partly written in the 1820s. Prints were important when Goethe tried to remember what he had seen and done in the Eternal City, and they were important on different levels. On one level, prints helped him recollect particular sites and events almost to the point of replacing faded impressions. On another level, prints structured memory itself. Piranesi in particular suggested ways to visualize and describe the act of remembering, an underlying theme in Italian Journey, as in any memoir. In this way, if one were to speculate, personal pasts were forged, both by Piranesi and by Goethe, in terms that Freud ultimately grasped and formulated.