Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tour of 18th century London Churches

It brings me great pleasure to take my readers upon a walking tour of 18th century London (made possible by Google Street View), dwelling especially on those of the city's churches erected directly in consequence of the Act of 1711, also known as the Commission for Fifty Churches, passed by the Tories in Parliament, and approved by Queen Anne, with the intent of signifying the triumph of the High Church. To finance this noble goal---of erecting fifty churches---it was deemed appropriate to impose a tax upon coal.   

The unconventional viewing angle of these photos, rather than that of a professional photographer, merely reflects the pedestrian's actual street-level perspective. 

St George, Bloomsbury
 St George’s at Bloomsbury, finished in 1730, designed by Mr. Nicholas Hawksmoor. This church enjoys the reputation of having the finest Corinthian portico in London.

St George in the East 
St George in the East was finished in 1723, also designed by Mr. Hawksmoor. Observe its Gothic origins.

Christ Church Spitalfields
Christ Church Spitalfields, finished in 1729, designed by Mr. Hawksmoor. Take note of its Gothic steeple and Tuscan columns.

St Alphege, Greenwich
St Alphege at Greenwhich, completed in 1730, likewise designed by Mr. Hawksmoor. Notice  the splendid Tuscan portico.

St Anne's Limehouse
 St Anne’s Limehouse, completed in 1730, designed by Mr. Hawksmoor.

St George's, Hanover Square
 St George’s at Hanover Square, completed in 1725, designed by Mr. John James. It enjoys the reputation as the most fashionable of all the churches erected during this period, being a popular spot for patrician weddings.

                                 St Mary-le-Strand                             

St Mary-le-Strand, built in 1717, designed by the papist Mr. James Gibbs in the Roman Baroque style.

St Luke's, in Old Street

1760 illustration of St Luke's
St Luke’s in Old Street, jointly designed by Mr. Hawksmoor and Mr. James, and completed in 1733. Note the obelisk spire, a feature of high rarity in Anglican Churches.

St Paul's, Deptford
 St Paul’s, in Deptford, designed by Mr. Thomas Archer in Roman Baroque style, and completed in 1730.

St John's, in Smith Square

St John's, in Smith Square, 18th century illustration

St John’s, in Smith Street, designed by Mr. Archer, and completed in 1728, in finest example of British Baroque style. Note the distinct four towers, as if resembling an upside-down footstool--- this in honor of Queen Anne’s caprice of kicking over the footstool and gesturing towards the upside object, in a whimsical attempt to illustrate to Mr. Archer what Her Majesty wanted her church to look like.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A father's letter to his son, advising him to reform his Art School occupation

Dear boy:

By your past letter and the picture enclosed therein I find that you are a tolerably good Pop Artist, as such an occupation is called, and can present several arch, colorful impressions of supermarket dairy isles to the curious. Your mother delights in your series of rows of industrial yogurts and puddings.  For my part, I am very glad on’t, as it is a proof of some attention towards your craft---and a certain bringing forth of fruit in our lavish investment in your Art School education.

But I hope you will be as good a Portrait Painter, which is a much more noble occupation, than that of a Pop Artist. By portraits, you will easily judge, that I do not mean the mere outlines and the coloring of the human figure---as one might do with a pudding container---but the inside of the heart and mind of man. This art requires more Attention, Observation, and Penetration, than the other. Search, therefore, with the greatest care, into the characters of those whom you converse with. And through the perspective of a Portrait Painter, endeavor to discover their predominant passions, their prevailing weaknesses, their vanities, their follies, and their humors, with all the right and wrong, wise and silly springs of human actions, which makes such inconsistent and whimsical beings of us supposed rational creatures----and learn to represent this upon the canvas through the person’s natural likeness or a satiric construction thereof.

You will find that being a Portrait Painter will enable you to reach a deeper understanding of your fellow human creatures and ultimately your own self. To achieve this end, you are not to shrink from any physical blemishes, nor make too many allowances for people’s moral shortcomings.  Pray, do not forget that the final purpose of Higher Education is to deepen one’s knowledge of Human Nature. I must therefore urge you to devote more of your hours in studying the human face instead of yogurt and pudding containers.  Endeavor by all means, to acquire this talent, for it is a very great one.

To learn to become an excellent Portrait Painter you are advised to study the works of Mr. Francis Cotes, Mr. Joseph Highmore, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and for the satiric modes of representation Mr. William Hogarth. Unless you submit to this transformation, my boy, you will continue to give anxious thoughts to

Your loving, affectionate father,