Originally published in A. W. N. Pugin: Master of Gothic Revival, edited by Paul Atterbury. Published for The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995. 103–135.

From the exhibition: A.W.N. Pugin: Master of Gothic Revival.

The Pointed Arch will circle the globe.

– A. N. Didron, 1853

Nurtured in the fertile soils of nationalism and the religious revival of the early nineteenth century, the Gothic Revival seemed poised, by the time of Pugin’s death in 1852, to become an international affair. Revived Pointed or Christian architecture scarcely needed a renewed apology, Pugin’s greatest French champion, Adolphe-Napoléon Didron, reassured the readers of his polemical Annales Archéologiques: “M. Pugin is dead, but he lives on in his older son and in … eight or ten other young architects in Great Britain who have devoted themselves to medieval architecture.”1 No other country could rival the cohort of George Gilbert Scott, William Butterfield, G. E. Street, R. C. Carpenter, William White, to name but a few “Goths” who had established respected and highly active architectural offices in London by the 1850s. But nearly everywhere the movement was gaining ground. Didron offered a field report. France was in the forefront, and the campaign there was advancing with huge strides: two hundred neo-Gothic churches were under construction and the aesthetic ministry had found adherents in nearly every region. A Gothic-style chapel was even said to be under construction in Corsica. In the politically fragmented map of German-speaking Central Europe Catholics and Protestants alike were exploring the “national” past as essential to the forging of the “national” future. In addition to these strongholds, where Gothic antiquarianism could be traced back to the turn-of-the century, new conquests were being made each year. Medievalizing churches were planned or under way in Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Russia. Even Greece had given way: “The Greek style has been conquered even its last citadel, its very cradle.”2 Didron concluded in noting a neo-Gothic church under construction in Athens. Colonial Gothic was established from New Zealand to the West Indies. The next issue of the Annales included a report on the “mouvement archéologique” in the United States, the only independent western-style nation state with no gothic past. Even here the future was bright and Gothic: “So the pointed arch has arrived even in California and we can adopt for it the slogan we used once for Liberty: The Pointed Arch will circle the globe.”3

By 1852, Didron had become one of the most tireless and internationally connected promoters of the Gothic cause. And he was a master at public relations. For in reality the Gothic was no more clearly triumphant at mid-century than political liberty, which had failed nearly everywhere with the collapse of the revolutionary uprisings of 1848–49. Whether the cause be the forging of a modern democratic nation state or the revival of the “national” architecture—and many were advocating that the two went hand-in-hand—it was clear in 1852 that both the stylistic and political struggles remained on the horizon. This was so even though the English, and A. W. N. Pugin in particular, had set an example. Just as Pugin’s own career had taken him from ad-hoc antiquarianism to a theory of Gothic as a comprehensive system for a once and future Christian Society, so the European Gothic Revivals were evolving and facing new challenges in the 1850s.

The Gothic Cause at Mid-Century

In many ways 1852 was a signal year on the Continent. Not only was nearly every country adjusting politically to the aftermath of the revolutions that had shaken the political status quo from Paris to Budapest in 1848–49, but the world of architecture was rife with conflict. Nearly everywhere key figures in the Gothic Revival took stock of their positions, and engaged, often even politically, for the fight ahead. In many cities skylines were being corrected in the spirit of Pugin’s famous contrast between the industrial city of 1840 and the medieval city of 1440: Sainte Clotilde in Paris (Franz Christian Gau and Théodore Ballu, 1846–57) and the Nikolaikirche in Hamburg (G. G. Scott, 1845–63). There was also the ongoing project of completing Cologne Cathedral, where the keystone of the main arch of the west front was laid in 1852. New opportunities arose as never before; but the Gothic was anything but a fait accompli.

The question of style was everywhere the subject of politicized debate. In September 1852 the cornerstone was laid for a romano-byzantine style cathedral in Marseilles, the first new cathedral built in France in the nineteenth century. It was part of Louis Napoleon’s campain to win over the south of France to the upcoming declaration of the French Second Empire. In the same year style was debated in the two leading German states, Prussia and Bavaria. A major polemic over the funding of architectural education arose in the Prussian parliament. In Bavaria King Maximilian II was awaiting the decision of the jury on an unusual competition to create a new style for use in a grand public building and its boulevard in Munich. In the following years major church competitions were announced for Gothic designs, in Vienna in 1853 and in Lille in 1854. The issues that loomed large in the 1850s were at once architectural and political: stylistic eclecticism versus national purity, invention versus tradition, nationalism versus cosmopolitanism, and the challenge of new building programs and new materials to the historicist logic of the Gothic Revival position.

While the battle lines of the 1830s and 40s had generally been clearly drawn between classical and Gothic camps, by the 1850s positions had evolved. Gothic Revival theorists had begun to question earlier doctrines of strict archaeological imitation, a trend announced by Pugin in his own late writings and especially apparent in the positions espoused by The Ecclesiologist from the early 1850s. The architectural establishment itself was changing, even if the “Goths” would not always acknowledge it in polemical exchanges. In France, Prussia, and Bavaria the academies and state schools of architecture had all been rocked by internal critiques. A younger generation challenged the absolutist aesthetics and timeless universals of doctrinaire Neoclassicism with calls for a style that obeyed the laws of historical development and responded to the relative demands of national and local conditions. The world was much changed from the polarized situation portrayed in Pugin’s Contrasts of 1836 (2nd ed., 1841), even if this book was to have a revival in Belgium after Pugin’s death.4


Throughout the early nineteenth century French Gothic Revivalists envied the advance enjoyed by the English in the historical study of medieval architecture and art, and even more the professional stature and sophistication of neo-Gothic design in Britain. Yet nowhere else did Gothic enjoy the official endorsement accorded it by the French state. Ever since the 1789 Revolution, successive regimes had drawn on the medieval past to assert the historical legitimacy of their regime, even as they came to power with a sharp rupture with the immediate past. Just such a rupture had given birth to the campaign to convert medieval monuments from symbols of a “superstitious” and “tyrannical” past, instruments of the hierarchies of church and aristocracy, into precious vessels of national identity and memory.5 While the Revolution coined the term vandalism—inventing the word to kill the thing, in the Abbé Grégoire’s oft-quoted words—and formulated the first legislation to place ancient buildings under government protection, it was only after the July Revolution of 1830 that a powerful set of institutions was put in place, quickly becoming the model for state restoration efforts throughout Europe. This was the result of a happy conjuncture: the anxieties of the citizen king Louis Philippe (reigned 1830–48) over the shaky foundations of his regime born on the barricades combined with the entry into the government of a number of the historians. François Guizot, who was most notable among them, had already crafted an engaged practice of historical narrative and research as a powerful political tool during his days in the liberal opposition to the revived Bourbon Monarchy in the 1820s. Arguably no European government in the nineteenth century cultivated historical study more assiduously than Louis Philippe’s July Monarchy. Not only was Versailles converted into a national history museum, but in the 1830s Guizot and his successor in the Ministry of Public Education, Salvandy, established commissions and committees of historians, men of letters, artists, architects, and amateur archéologues.6

Two influential committees were concerned with studying, classifying, and even conserving the nation’s architectural heritage: the Comité historique des arts et monuments and the Commission des Monuments Historiques. The first, of which Didron served as secretary from 1835 to 1852, was concerned with inventorying artistic and architectural monuments throughout the country and creating a set of manuals outlining the principal styles and types of monuments likely to be encountered for the use of local historians as well as to guide any restoration efforts. They were part of Guizot’s larger enterprise of writing a national history. The second had a much greater budget to undertake selective restorations on buildings of national significance. Throughout the late 1830s and 1840s these committees were sympathetic breeding grounds for those architects who felt that research into the monuments of the national past and their careful restoration as “historical monuments” were preludes to the creation of an appropriate modern architecture for France. Here they mounted a challenge to the long-standing adherence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to an exclusive devotion to the models of classical antiquity.

This is not to say that the committees, on which architects were in the minority, had achieved a unanimous voice. There was consensus on the value of an inclusive approach to recording and even restoring the monuments of the most diverse periods of French history. But views on the implications of that historical work for contemporary design and society diverged sharply. In the showcase restoration projects launched by the commission in the 1840s two distinct camps began to emerge among the architects: one group, ever since known as the “Romantics,” had already defied the academy’s exclusive classicist doctrines and enjoyed the official support of the historian/ministers Guizot and Adolphe Thiers; the other, slightly younger group enjoyed especially the support of Prosper Mérimée, named Inspecteur Général des Monuments Historiques, in succession to Ludovic Vitet in 1834. Together with his protégé Viollet-le-Duc and the young renegade architect Jean-Baptiste Lassus who had strong alliances with liberal neo-Catholicism, this “Gothicist” group was to craft its own power base within the Commission des Monuments Historiques. The group saw the commission as a counterweight to the academy and as the locus for a revival of a hands-on approach to architecture that recalled the practices of the medieval cathedral mason’s guilds.7

The Romantic architects were represented on the commission by Félix Duban, who was appointed to restore the Sainte Chapelle in 1836 and the château at Blois in 1843, and by Léon Vaudoyer. In the new world of official research and the emerging art of monumental restoration both found an enlarged scope for the historical studies they had already begun as students at the French academy in Rome.8 From the late 1820s they sought to challenge academic orthodoxy and the influential Neoclassical doctrine of the academy’s secrétaire-perpetuelle A. C. Quatremère de Quincy. Their method was to expand the canon of architectural models and attempt to understand each monument historically as the relative product of its particular cultural situation rather than as an immutable embodiment of timeless ideals. Exploring the heritage of French medieval and Renaissance architecture, they saw the history of France and its institutions worked out in the stylistic evolution of its great monuments, an insight into the very nature of history which they sought to make palpable for the general public through restoration of national monuments.

For instance, the château of Blois comprised four buildings ranging in date from the early thirteenth to the seventeenth century and Duban set out to underscore the distinctive style of each building. At the same time he created transitions and continuities that revealed that the succession of styles were related to one another as links in a chain of progress, a favorite metaphor of historians taken with the notion that history could be explained as a dialectical process. For Duban the building, destined to serve as a museum in which the architecture was as much on display as the city’s art works housed within, was to be celebrated as “a summary of our national architecture.”9 Along with his fellow romantics, Duban considered the stylistic diversity of monuments as more than a record of the continual dialectic between tradition and innovation that propelled stylistic change. It was testimony to the great patterns of emigration, conquest, and intermingling that had forged modern national identities and institutions out of the convulsed map of late antiquity.

In seeking lessons valuable for the architectural present, the Romantics focused increasingly on transitional styles as revealing of the very process of historical change. They examined in particular the ways in which the antique heritage of Roman Gaul had gradually been transformed, by the catalyst of Byzantine influence, into the native French styles at the outset of the Middle Ages, and the critical renewal of medieval technique by the rediscovery of antique harmony at the dawn of the Renaissance. They were convinced that the imposition of rigid rules, what they labeled academicism, had gradually led to the paralysis of French art, a process that reached its high point under Louis XIV. And they saw the mission of contemporary architecture to renew the “chain of human progress,” obeying the laws of historical evolution to forge a new stylistic link appropriate to the modern secular age of science still in search of an appropriate expression. They were looking for a renewal of the French classical tradition that could accommodate the accomplishments in both architecture and the enhancement of political liberties and social equalities whose gradual evolution had been traced by Augustin Thierry, Guizot, and most recently Jules Michelet.

The younger group had much the same reading list, but drew radically different conclusions. Spearheaded by the young Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and the slightly older Jean-Baptiste Lassus, they sought to focus attention particularly on the last golden moment of French civilization: the early thirteenth century. Gothic architecture had then reached its perfection in the great series of urban cathedrals of the Île-de-France, and modern political freedoms and economic independence were first forged in cities freed of feudal shackles and monastic rule. For them the flourishing of Gothic was anything but a gradual transition. It represented a veritable revolution in building, establishing a national tradition which all architects since the time of Louis XIV had dishonored and which held out the promise to serve as the catalyst for a renewal of French architecture to unrivaled rationality as well as pure national expression. Not surprisingly both Viollet-le-Duc and Lassus were virulent critics of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, which, in their view, held a veritable monopoly on prestigious commissions and careers in architecture. And although they were sympathetic to the historical interests of the Romantics, they were wary of their conclusions and suspicious of their academic aspirations.

Like so many others, including Didron, Lassus had been deeply moved by Victor Hugo’s novel Notre Dame de Paris (1831), with its plea for government to halt the decay and insensitive restoration under way on Paris’s cathedral, which was richly portrayed in Hugo’s novel as the embodiment of French genius and national identity. In restoration projects displayed at the annual Salon—the Sainte Chapelle in 1835 and the refectory of Saint Martin des Champs in 1836—and in his early writings for Didron’s Annales Archéologiques, Lassus launched a full-scale attack on the summary dismissal of Gothic architecture in Quatremère de Quincy’s widely respected Dictionnaire Méthodique d’Architecture (1832). Gothic for Quatremère was a ruleless and empirical architecture, one in which no underlying geometry or system of proportions could be found. The instinctive product of a society in decadence, it could be compared only “with the architecture produced by certain animals, notably beavers.”10 This brief comment, the final judgment of the few lines devoted to the Middle Ages in the three volumes of Quatremère’s canonic work, proved a vital spur to Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc’s crusade.

Beginning in the 1840s and gaining in virulence with each new conflict, they tried to demonstrate that Gothic was a highly sophisticated system, based on the most rigorously logical and rational solutions to structural problems, and that it had achieved an unimpeachable clarity and perfection in the sophisticated and daring structures of the thirteenth century in the Île-de-France. For Viollet-le-Duc the conflict was to lead to the great project of replacing Quatremère’s reference work with a new Dictionnaire Raisonné de l’Architecture (1854–68).11 For Lassus preservation of these monuments against the ravages of time was the sacred duty of modern Frenchmen. The cathedrals such as Notre Dame in Paris and Chartres, where he was active until his early death in 1857, were the source of all architectural knowledge and the key to responding to the great challenge of the nineteenth century to devise a modern architectural language uniquely appropriate to the physical and social conditions of a post-Revolutionary France. Although he had been schooled under Henri Labrouste in the theories of Romantic historians, Lassus was equally influenced by the writings of the Romantic neo-Catholics, particularly those who embraced a progressive social mission for the modern clergy, including P. J. B. Buchez, H. F. R. Lamennais, and the comte de Montalembert, who was Pugin’s greatest supporter in France.

Viollet-le-Duc was an avowed enemy of all academies—in 1852 he proposed that the French Academy and its Ecole des Beaux-Arts be replaced by a revival of the ancient guilds in the form of an open union of architects.12 He considered the revival of classicism sponsored by Renaissance academies as one of the principal seeds of the decline of French architecture from its High Gothic apogee. The rationally inquiring French spirit had then been unshackled, and the work of architecture had been the free expression of masons and a whole coterie of artists working in harmony. To face the challenges of a society in which scientific inquiry and free enterprise held the potential for dynamic progress Viollet-le-Duc shared Lassus’s view that no better school was available than that of the national Gothic. The state-funded restoration projects were to give them high visibility in the 1840s and 1850s. Notre Dame remained one of the best funded of all the undertakings endorsed anew by Napoleon III as part of an array of projects meant to thank the church for its support in the plebiscite endorsing the declaration of the Second Empire.

In contrast to England, the French Gothic Revival was thus developing its architectural theory largely in a secular setting, with government support. Although many members of the clergy were to be won over to the Gothic cause—as recent studies of provincial architecture in nineteenth-century France are just starting to make clear.13—the theoretical apparatus of the Gothic Revival was defined in a largely secular, and in Viollet-le-Duc’s case, even anticlerical, context. In large measure this was due to the fact that since the Revolution church buildings were the property of the state and thus—with the exception of pilgrimage or votive churches that were built by private subscription—all work, whether restoration or new construction, was reviewed by government agencies.14 The primary stylistic battles were to take place as much over visions of the meaning of French history as over issues of theological correctness. Although a number of skirmishes occurred over parish churches in the 1840s—Sainte Clotilde in Paris, Saint Nicholas at Nantes, to name the best known—it was cathedral design that provided a series of battles with long-ranging consequences for the fate of the Gothic Revival in France. Firmly tied to French identity by Hugo’s prose, the cathedral was also postulated as the great communal building characteristic of the last golden or organic period in the comte de Saint-Simon’s cyclical vision of historical development.15 It remained the vortex of the debates over style that challenged the antiquarian position in the French Gothic Revival in the 1850s.

The scene was set in the mid-1840s with the wresting of Notre Dame Cathedral from the hands of the academically trained Etienne Godde. His austere Neoclassical church designs in Paris and insensitive restoration work at the cathedrals of Amiens and Paris had made him the bête noire of the Gothic cause. Despite Hugo’s stirring pleas in 1831, Godde continued his ad-hoc restoration work intermittently into the early 1840s, by which time a chorus of voices had gathered to apply pressure on the administration. In 1842 the Minister of the Interior agreed to open consultations with architects willing to present overall restoration projects, a first for what had heretofore been an entirely haphazard procedure. Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc’s heavily documented report, a monument to the new standards of Guizot’s historical committees, was also a manifesto for the Gothic as a system of architecture that must be restored with scrupulous attention to its own internal logic. It was accompanied by a dazzling set of watercolors envisioning Notre Dame cleansed of all post-medieval additions, its facade statuary and crossing flèche reinstated, and the building enhanced with a new sacristy on the south in a seamless extrapolation of the purest elements of the cathedral’s early thirteenth-century Gothic syntax. Their appointment on March 11, 1844 was an official endorsement of this vision of the organic wholeness of Gothic construction. Even the president of the Conseil des Bâtiments Civils, reputed for its refusal to accept any neo-Gothic proposals, admitted that henceforth all restoration work required “the feeling and the science of Gothic art.”16 Ultimately the work at Notre Dame would last two decades, completed by Viollet-le-Duc alone in 1864, seven years after Lassus’s death. From the Notre-Dame workshop would emerge a whole generation of committed Gothic Revivalists—in essence the school of Viollet-le-Duc—including Emile Boeswillald, Anatole de Baudot, Eugène Millet, and Edmond Duthoit, in addition to Suréda, who would emigrate to Spain where he helped establish the national historical monuments service.

As Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc began work, Didron launched the Annales Archéologiques; his earlier journal, La Liberté (1832) had folded after six issues. Annales was a private venture, financed by contributions from Montalembert and by subscribers who included an impressive roster of foreign “Goths,” from Pugin in England to August Reichensperger in Germany. It was not only an outspoken enemy of official Neoclassical taste in both the academy and the Conseil des Bâtiments Civiles, but an unforgiving critic of the more severe restorations undertaken by the Commission des Monuments Historiques, and an ardent promoter of the cause of the Gothic Revival. “Let us repeat once again that we are not involved in archaeology for our leisure, but rather as people who demand of the past all that it can offer the present and especially the future,”17 Didron reminded his readers whenever the occasion presented itself. Although he applauded every effort to revive Gothic—and duly recorded every conversion of the clergy to the cause—Didron’s own vision of the Middle Ages was strictly aligned with that of the so-called progressive “neo-Catholic” revival inspired by the writings of Joseph-Marie de Maistre, Lamennais, Buchez, and most particularly Montalembert. He was persuaded that only a revival of the Middle Ages would bring with it a revival of the profound harmony between the civic and ecclesiastical orders that had last flourished in the thirteenth century. His vision came closer to Viollet-le-Duc’s view of a secularized Middle Ages than to the Catholic nostalgia of Pugin. In addition, Didron shared Viollet-le-Duc’s republican sympathies.

Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc first developed their visions of Gothic architecture’s unique relevance to present-day France in the pages of Didron’s magazine. In 1844 Viollet-le-Duc began to publish a series of historical articles “De la construction des édifices religieux en France depuis le commencement du christianisme jusqu’au XVIe siècle” (On the construction of religious buildings in France from the beginning of Christianity until the 16th century). These contain in seed his famous theory that “Gothic architecture is above all construction … its appearance is but the result of its structure.” They outline the mandate of his theory for years to come, namely to describe the rapid perfecting of Gothic structure in the early thirteenth century as a triumph of the rational French spirit, and the emergence of the bourgeois urban classes from the feudal yoke, rather than a drive for spiritual expression or Christian faith. France’s destiny to master the world through science and technology—the great challenge of the rivalry of nations in the mid-nineteenth century—was firmly anticipated then by this earlier flourishing of the national spirit. Interspersed with the first installments of Viollet-le-Duc’s historical demonstration were the two parts of Lassus’s first major polemic in favor of the neo-Gothic, “De l’art et de l’archéologie” (On art and archaeology). Lassus echoed Viollet-le-Duc’s descriptions of Gothic as a logical system of design born of and uniquely appropriate to French circumstances, materials, and conditions. And although he was quick to deflect charges of flaccid copyism, he noted that the first efforts would undoubtedly be largely derivative until French architects, long burdened with the official Latin of the academy, learned once again to speak their native tongue. Copy for now he concluded, “later we’ll do better, if we can.”18

There are hints in this article, in which the evils of eclecticism were first sermonized, that Lassus was aware that the battleground was shifting. Confrontations would continue with the Conseil Général des Bâtiments Civils, dominated by older statesmen from the academy. Stalwart supporters all of Neoclassical models, they had rejected nearly every neo! Gothic design that had come before them during the 1840s. The culmination would be the battle over the design for a new parish church on a prominent site on Paris’s Left Bank, near the Assemblée Nationale, to be dedicated to Sainte Clotilde. After thrice rejecting the neo-Gothic designs by Franz Christian Gau, the Conseil des Bâtiments Civils finally consented to give their approval to his severe thirteenth-century design. This only after being threatened with an investigation into the restoration under way at the Royal Basilica of Saint Denis, where François Debret’s radical restoration had so weakened the structure of the north tower that it needed to be demolished. The incident unleashed a heated debate over the question articulated by the academy: “Est-il convenable à notre epoque de construire une église dans le style dit gothique?” (Is it appropriate in our time to build a church in the so-called Gothic style?). A voluminous war of words consolidated positions. Lassus published a violent attack on the academy, and in the end the Gothic party carried the day.19 Or so it seemed. Gau’s design was a mockery of the lessons Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc had been seeking to instill. Combining elements from French and German buildings—including the rather ill-timed adoption of substantial elements from Cologne Cathedral given the recent Rhine crisis which reactivated rivalries between French and German nationalism—Gau’s design was anything but a fluent exercise in the language of Gothic. It was all too clearly a competent and well-intentioned exercise in translation by an architect better versed in classical design. Although Didron insisted that even an imperfect Gothic design was better than a classical one, Lassus redoubled the fight against eclecticism. The Gothic party was on the verge of splitting.20

While a heated exchange had been engaged with the stalwart academicians, the rising power of the younger Romantics, sympathetic to the cause of the Commission des Monuments Historiques but virulently opposed to the notion of a Gothic Revival, posed a more difficult challenge. As Viollet-le-Duc and Lassus were articulating their revivalist positions in the pages of the Annales, a subtly different historicist prognosis for the relationship of the canon of national monuments to the problems of a modern language of architecture was being forged by the Romantics in the Saint-Simonian populist journal Le Magasin Pittoresque. In a serialized history of French architecture, published between 1839 and 1852, Albert Lenoir and Léon Vaudoyer set out to demonstrate that for over a thousand years French architecture had evolved as a continual dialectic between tradition and innovation. The transitions were gradual and continual, and in fact it was in the unfinished potential of the transitions from Romanesque to Gothic, and more particularly from Gothic to Renaissance, that modern architects could renew with the grand mission of French culture as the great crucible of European culture. “France,” Vaudoyer explained at the peak of the Sainte-Clotilde crisis, “can be considered as the heart of this great body we call Europe, that is to say destined to receive all foreign influences and to excercise its own universally.”21 In 1844 Vaudoyer and Lenoir interrupted their historical narrative for a direct attack on the Gothic Revival position of the new Annales Archéologiques:

What! Gothic can be claimed as our national art? Should we thus renounce all the advances that have been made since! What! The limits on French genius were such that since the fifteenth century our art has lost all its originality, all its character! This we cannot accept on faith; art in general, and architecture in particular, is subject to the movement of the ideas that dominate in the era of its making. Architecture … is the most direct interpretation of the principles, of the morals and of the spirit of a civilized nation.22

Vaudoyer and Lenoir’s attack clarified matters for Lassus, who now identified eclecticism as the leading danger facing the Gothic Revival cause: “Stylistic unity no matter what one does is one of those fundamental rules from which it is impossible to deviate, since without this rigorous condition there can be neither art nor artists. In architecture eclecticism is completely impossible and makes no sense whatsoever.” He continued, interweaving metaphors of fashion and linguistics: “To take what is best in each time period is to transport into architecture what one does to put together one of those costumes that are indispensable for certain balls, and which are formed from the debris of twenty other costumes.”23 The linguistic analogy would remain at the center of the debate between these two conflicting views of the relationship between past and present in architecture for the next decade. In the same issue Viollet-le-Duc framed the debate even more explicitly in an article entitled “De l’Art Etranger et de l’Art National” (On Foreign and National Art): “In a country two things must be quintessentially national, the language and the architecture, for they are what best express a people’s character. We haven’t given up our language, we have modified it, perhaps wrongly. Why then should we give up our architecture?”24

Vaudoyer was quick to put forth a different image of the historical roots and future growth of French linguistic and architectural identity:

Children of Roman civilization, we have borrowed everything from antiquity; but does that mean that we don’t have our own originality? Architecture follows the same rule as language, and if this analogy has been made frequently it is because no other could be as precise or as striking. Although the French language is formed of Greek, Latin, and Italian elements is it not in spite of that the most exact expression of our French spirit?25

At the dawn of the Second Empire, in the heated moment of church projects and restorations launched by Napoleon III aiming to consolidate the support he had found among the Catholic Clergy, and specifically from Montalembert in the pages of the liberal catholic L’Univers, the confrontation between linguistic and national purity and an eclectic vision of France as an historical melting pot took on a new intensity. Battle lines formed over the first newly commissioned cathedral to be built in France in nearly a century. In September 1852, in a bid to win over the devout, but anti-Bonapartist populations of Marseilles, Napoleon III had laid the cornerstone of a new cathedral for the country’s teeming port city, with its diverse immigrant populations, during a campaign tour through the south of France. The architect chosen was none other than Vaudoyer, protégé of the newly appointed Ministre de l’Instruction Publique et des Cultes, Hippolyte Fortoul.26 Vaudoyer had designed a romano-byzantine style building. This recently coined historical/stylistic category was based on the notion that French medieval architecture had married the traditions of the western Roman empire with the structural innovations of Byzantium—most particularly the pendentive dome—to achieve a new system of structure and decorative expression that would continue to evolve through experiment and intermingling.

In an 1853 reorganization of the administration of ecclesiastical architecture, the lines for the next skirmish between Vaudoyer’s progressive eclecticism and Viollet-le-Duc’s quest for stylistic unity were redrawn. Both architects were named, along with Léonce Reynaud, to serve as Inspecteurs Généraux des Edifices Diocésains, in charge of reviewing restoration and construction in all French cathedrals. Viollet-le-Duc’s ongoing restoration of Notre Dame was included among Vaudoyer’s assignments, while Viollet-le-Duc would keep a watchful eye on the diocese of Marseilles. Vaudoyer missed no opportunity to remind the committee that the Gothic cathedral was an historical artifact whose only lesson for modernity was a negative one, namely the expensive maintenance of its flawed system of flying buttresses and exposed structural members. Historical piety and the future of French architecture should not be confused, Vaudoyer noted. Viollet-le-Duc in turn continued to rail against the pernicious example Vaudoyer was setting as he continued to enrich his design with references to an ever broader range of sources, including Byzantine, Lombardic, French Romanesque, and even Arabic elements. For Vaudoyer these were all interrelated as members of “the great Mediterranean family of architectures” which it had been the role of Marseilles throughout history to absorb into a new synthesis. Viollet-le-Duc rarely expressed his desire for linguistic purity in architecture more adamantly than his critique of Vaudoyer’s revised design of 1855:

He seems to want to prove that in the same building forms belonging to different ages and different cultures can be combined. Certainly if anyone is capable of overcoming this difficulty it is Monsieur Vaudoyer … who knows better than we do that architecture is not the project of chance: when one decides thus (and how can one do otherwise today) to adopt a style, why seek to compose a macaronique tongue when one has at hand a beautiful and simple language?27

What could be ruder than this accusation of the macaronique, a bastardized mixture of Latin and native words, a pig-Latin whose natural habitat was in the burlesque of the French theater rather than in the rational vision of structural logic Viollet-le-Duc was pursuing. Viollet-le-Duc responded in the “Cathedral” entry of his dictionary, illustrated by a bird’s-eye view of an ideal French cathedral, a purified vision of the finest features of the cathedrals of Reims, Paris, Chartres, and other monuments from the best period. In the preface to the Dictionnaire he had penned his program for a modern architecture:

If all the monuments left us by the Middle Ages were above reproach then we could think of slavishly copying them in our own time, but if one erects a new building, it is but a language that one needs to learn how to use to express one’s own thoughts, not to repeat what others have already said ….28

Even as he worked to bring the Middle Ages back to life in his restoration of Notre Dame, for which he now proposed to correct history by realizing the twin facade towers never completed, Viollet-le-Duc launched his own great monument: a dictionary of medieval architecture. This was to be a manual to guide the work of returning French architecture to the linguistic purity of the original gothic syntax, so rational that it could easily confront the demands of modern scientific society.

Just as Viollet-le-Duc’s effort to check any possible influence of Vaudoyer’s Marseilles design and the philosophy it expounded was reaching its peak, a second chance for a Gothic Revival cathedral presented itself. In Lille, the local clergy had been agitating for some time to have this booming city declared a diocese, independent of the declining capital of French Flanders, Arras. The idea had found a cool reception with Napoleon III’s administration, but in late 1854 Didron seems to have been instrumental in selling the local advocates of the project on the idea of an international competition. It would be his most spectacular publicity gesture for the Gothic cause to date. The program called for an ambitious building and specified that only Gothic designs would be accepted. Félix Duban and Henri Labrouste refused an invitation to serve on the jury to protest publicly this exclusive stylistic demand, as they explained in the Moniteur des Architectes (July 15, 1856, p. 399). Thrown open to architects of all nations, the event was meant to establish what Didron had already noted in 1852 upon Pugin’s death, that everywhere “people are studying, people are copying their old national monuments, still but little known not so long ago.”29 In this period where national rivalry and cooperation had been cultivated in the first Universal Expositions, Didron looked forward to a tournament of like-minded nationalists: “We await architects from every country on the battlefield at Lille that we might judge loyally if the victory will go to foreigners or to the French.” The national breakdown of the entries put on display in March 1856 was a fairly accurate barometer of the relative strength of the Gothic Revival in major European states. The French and British were tied with fifteen entrants each, although the English took the lion’s share of the prizes. The seven “German” entries represented the strongholds of the Gothic Revival on the other banks of the Rhine: three came from the Prussian Rhineland, and one each from Hannover, Silesia, Karlsruhe, and Austria. In addition there were entries from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

William Burges and Henry Clutton took first prize, and George Edmund Street second.30 “ C’est l’Angleterre qui a triomphé” (England has triumphed), Didron admitted. Third prize went to Lassus. But even more striking is the contrast between the designs and the positions. Burges and Street had both begun to explore Continental Gothic in the early 1850s as a way of expanding the aesthetic vocabulary and historical base of their Gothic language of design. Both were leading advocates of the notion that to become a universal and modern architectural style Gothic needed to transcend national references. A cosmopolitan historical attitude was the basis for the catchword of the more progressive ecclesiology of the 1850s: development. By development the High Victorian Goths meant the capacity of using Gothic as a matrix, indeed a starting point, for developing a flexible style, born of historical logic but free from continual reference to precedent. This style could fill new programmatic demands, create moving effects in the modern city, and provide great scope for the individual signature of the nineteenth-century architect.

With the motto “Éclectisme est la plaie de l’art” (Eclecticism is the open sore of art)” Lassus’s competition entry was scarcely anonymous. Not only was it by far the most masterly display of fluency in pure Île-de-France thirteenth-century Gothic submitted, but the phrase itself had already peppered Lassus’s polemical writings in the Annales Archéologiques. The text accompanying his design contained a lengthy analysis of the current situation in architecture, in addition to the required detailed description of the liturgical and iconographic specifics of his project.31 Lassus outlined four possible positions in the quest for an appropriate style for the mid-nineteenth century: create an entirely new art; admit a melange of the forms of all past styles; copy slavishly a single past style; or take inspiration in a single past style and carry it to perfection. Needless to say the fourth was the one he argued as the only viable option. The first was immediately eliminated as in violation of the fundamental laws of history: “L’art ne s’invente pas, il s’impose” (Art can’t be invented, it imposes itself), he noted briskly. The third, although it had adherents in both the Gothic and classic camps, was likewise easily discredited. The real battle was between the second proposition, eclecticism, and the fourth, the creation of a modern Gothic. For Lille, where the Gothic had made only a belated appearance historically, Lassus proposed not a revival of the Flamboyant style but rather the perfect thirteenth-century “Cathedral for the North of France” that history had failed to build.

The ensuing battle was to be fought not so much with the Establishment, which seemed to recognize that the chances of building the cathedral were remote, but with Gothic Revivalists abroad. The spirit of cooperation between the British and French soon turned to bitterness and dispute, as much doctrinal as parochial. Reviewing the projects The Ecclesiologist complained that Lassus’s design had “the look of being too servile a copy,” and that his theoretic position was inconsistent:

The motto that the architect has chosen … has misled him. Unless we misinterpret altogether the conditions of the present competition, the object sought for is not a mere dead reproduction of the French style of 1200–1250, but a church in which the needs and experiences of the middle of the nineteenth century are embodied according to the architectural principles of that style. The successful competitor ought to be the man who has, with a true eclecticism, laid hold of every real advantage made in construction or in taste during the last six centuries, and has assimilated it, so to say, into his design, congrously with the principles of the prescribed period.32

What was missing from Lassus’s design were “signs of progress.”

Lassus was eager to make amends. He explained at great length the danger of “a whole school” in France “who admit the possibility of creating a new art, or an entirely new philosophical doctrine, by borrowing the elements of their creation from all styles or from all philosophical systems,” and suggested that his British friends had perhaps confused “eclecticism with invention, two things essentially different, we might almost say completely opposed.”33 Linguistic impurity remained the danger, lest architecture be reduced to a Tower of Babel, that oft-evoked metaphor of the period.

I am perfectly convinced, in the state of anarchy into which art is now reduced, that there remains to us only one anchor of safety, unity of style; and as we have no art belonging to our own time … there is only one thing for us to do: that is to choose one from among the anterior epochs, not m order to copy it, but in order to compose, while conforming to the spirit of that art … but let us always preserve the unity of style, not trying to give existence to any of those hybrid and unnatural creatures analogous to the monsters who are concealed in the most obscure recesses of our cabinet of curiosities.34

Marseilles was not to be repeated at Lille. The event had been staged to display an international accord on nationalist art, but the level of misunderstanding between the English and French escalated when the local clergy decided to overturn the decision of the international jury in favor of a national architect, style, and religion. The idea of rallying the political and financial support for a new Gothic cathedral designed by an English Protestant seemed to raise the stakes too high, even if Burges was a profound student of French medieval architecture. In the end Lassus’s design was adopted for it seemed to promise, as one promoter noted, the dream of a cathedral more perfect even than any left by the thirteenth century: “… this monument without equal will be national like the cathedral at Reims, beautiful like Amiens, strong like that at Chartres, as Didron put it.”35 But Lassus’s was a Pyrrhic victory. He died just a few months after his last diatribe against eclecticism was published in the Ecclesiologist. Over the next few years his design was modified by the local Lille architect Charles Leroy, whose idea of synthesis was to copy specific parts of the major cathedrals of the Île-de-France and reassemble them in the design of Lille. The Basilica of Notre Dame de Ia Treille, never elevated to cathedral status, still awaits a west front. While the English Gothic Revival would create a modern Gothic cathedral at Liverpool to counter the eclectic admixture of the Catholic Westminster Cathedral, the French Gothic Revival would never produce a modern cathedral.

One year later, in 1858, Viollet-le-Duc revealed how far he had traveled from the late Lassus’s position in the closing volumes of his dictionary of medieval architecture. With the dual entries “Style” and “Unity” his quest for a rational basis became even more radical, leaving behind the tutorial in Gothic design which he thought of as the prelude to a modern French architecture. In the entry “Unity” he evokes a universal rational principle for architecture which transcends historical style and rivals contemporary science in its quest for irrefutable positive grounds for experimentation:

We are not among those who deny the usefulness of studying earlier arts, inasmuch as no one should forget, or allow to forget, the long chain of past traditions; but what every thinking mind must do when confronted with this mass of materials is to put them in order before even dreaming of using them…. The discoveries in the physical sciences show us every day, with increasing evidence, that if the order of created things manifests an infinite variety in her expressions, it is subject to a number of laws more and more limited …. It cannot be repeated too often that only by following the order that nature herself observes in her creations can one, in the arts, conceive and produce according to the law of unity, which is the essential condition of all creation ….36

At the same time he began drawing up a series of ideal projects to illustrate his Lectures on Architecture in which frank use of iron and geometries based on the equilateral triangle—also found in Gothic—would generate buildings with no precedent in any of the great national cathedrals. Not the least indicative of this switch was Viollet-le-Duc’s decision in 1852 to abandon the pages of Didron’s Annales Archéologiques for those of César Daly’s progressive Révue Générale de l’Architecture. Increasingly Viollet-le-Duc’s architects, known as the école diocésain, would distance themselves from antiquarian and pious research into the Catholic Middle Ages. The Gothic Revival would continue to produce countless church designs, drawing on the explosion of plate books published by mid-century, but the school of architects trained in Gothic restoration were pursuing a progressive and inventive doctrine that increasingly blurred the distance between them and the progeny of the Romantics.


Although it was a late addition to the nation states of Europe, Germany was a pioneer in the ideology of nationalism in architecture. In this Gothic commanded pride of place from the start. The French were the catalysts, not only in the consciousness-raising that accompanied first the Revolutionary armies and then Napoleon’s expansionist Empire, but throughout the nineteenth century as the “other” of German national identity. As early as 1797 Friedrich Gilly, although originally enthralled like so many of his generation with the democratic and liberal ideals of the French Revolution, had made an impassioned plea for the restoration of the medieval castle of the Teutonic knights at Marienburg in East Prussia (today Poland) as the embodiment of national (German) identity.

During the wars against Napoleon, Gilly’s pupil Karl Friedrich Schinkel exploited a series of Gothic dreams toward the project of rallying national sentiment against the invader. He proposed immediately after Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig that a great “Cathedral of Liberation” be constructed on Berlin’s Leipziger Platz as both symbol and instrument of national regeneration. Schinkel hoped not only to revive the style that Goethe had already revalorized as “German” but with it the principle of the communal effort of building that made the Gothic the veritable symbol of a nation arising naturally from popular sentiment.37 It was a part of a rising tide of sentiment that the Germans, divided among countless political entities, needed a national monument. Rival efforts were inaugurated by the leading states, most notably Ludwig I of Bavaria’s monumental classical temple, the Walhalla near Regensberg, first proposed in 1814 and dedicated in 1842 on the anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig.

But the only project with true potential to transcend the complex political boundaries of German-speaking Europe was the completion of Cologne cathedral. This mid-thirteenth-century design cut a curious profile in the skyline of Cologne, with the twin peaks of its choir, completed in 1322, and the stump of the projected twin-towered West Front, crowned by a late medieval construction crane that had been stilled in 1560 when the project was abandoned. In the intervening years a series of modest houses had filled in the space layed out for a grand nave. By the 1820s the magnificent engravings of Sulpiz Boisserée’s portfolio of the original architectural drawings, discovered by Georg Moller, and theatrically lit visions of the completed interior provided an image of the national cathedral that history had left to modernity to complete. Many would dispute the paternity of this idea, just as the paternity—German or French—of the Gothic style would soon complicate the nationalist impulse of revived medievalism. Although both the Bavarian and Prussian kings studied the problem—in 1816 Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia sent Schinkel to draw up a report—and funded the project over the next sixty years, it was private interests in the Rhineland that were to remain the most tireless promoters of the project, most famously the journalist and scholar Joseph Görres and his disciple the lawyer August Reichensperger. With the Catholic Rhineland’s inclusion in the redrawn map of (largely Protestant) Prussia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the politics of the situation grew ever more complex. The building came to serve simultaneously the symbolic needs of local pride and the campaign to foster German patriotism in anticipation of unity.38 Cologne cathedral, where rebuilding began in 1823, was in the words of Görres the “symbol of the new empire that we are trying to build.”39

For Reichensperger, whose career became increasingly politicized during the 1830s, the building should become the catalyst for the reform of architectural education and practice and the forging of regional identity for the Catholic Rhineland within the expansive and centralizing Prussian state. As Michael Lewis has explained,

The same principles that motivated his political program shaped … his architectural program. He conceived of the Gothic Revival as an inherently regional phenomenon, based on the expression of local tradition, custom and materials. It must be free of the control of the academies, which were modeled on the French system—just as German society must rediscover its democratic roots, shunning the centralism and bureaucracy of France. It must spring instead from communal and fraternal organizations, such as the late medieval building lodge, just as the revival of these fraternal and private organizations would overturn the power monopoly of the autocratic state.40

When Ernst Friedrich Zwirner was appointed head architect in 1833 Reichensperger’s hopes for a revival of the medieval mason’s lodge, or Bauhütte, became a reality. Here a new generation of architects would be trained in the principles of Gothic construction. From here they would be dispersed to bring revived Gothic to parish churches throughout the German lands, or at the very least throughout the Catholic states. As he explained in his 1845 manifesto, Die christliche-germanische Baukunst und ihr Verhältnis zur Gegenwart (Christian-Germanic architecture and its relation to the present) Gothic would be recognized at once, in the spirit of Pugin, who remained a point of reference for Reichensperger, as the only legitimate style to express both Germany’s national character and its Christian devotion.

But by 1852 Reichensperger’s position had been challenged and was becoming more nuanced and accommodating. He had weathered the storm over the origins of Gothic, even conceding that Cologne’s design was clearly indebted to the earlier work at Amiens cathedral. For this he expanded his notion to a “Christian-German” architecture that could include the Germanic influence all over Europe. Even as he acknowledged that Gothic had its origins in the north of France—where the influence of Germanic civilization was vital in his view—he maintained that it had been brought to mature perfection in Germany. As so often in nationalist arguments ever since, the lack of coincidence between the boundaries of the original tribes and the modern nation state based on ethnicity was quickly glossed over. In the early 1850s Reichensperger was expounding the notion that, as a universal style, the Gothic Revival must be capable of solving all building problems, even that of a modern theater, although he remained adamantly opposed to the integration of modern materials in Gothic settings.41 Like Didron, with whom he established close contact, Reichensperger applauded all efforts even as he sought in a variety of publications and in the pages of the Kölner Domblatt, the official organ of the Cathedral project, to refine a purist vision of a revived Germanic Gothic from the best period.

Although the early polemicists for the Gothic Revival had framed their arguments within the spirit of the polarities between Gothic and Greek architecture first formulated by the Romantics, notably Friedrich Schlegel in his Grundzüge der gotischen Baukunst of 1804–1805, Germany’s leading academies of architecture had evolved beyond the neoclassical doctrines of the early nineteenth century toward a synthetic historicist position.42 Grouped under the deliberately inclusive term Rundbogenstil, variants of this eclectic philosophy were professed in the academies of Berlin, Munich, Karlsruhe, and Hannover. It was articulated by figures as diverse as Friedrich von Gärtner, Schinkel, and Heinrich Hübsch, who had coined the term in his 1828 manifesto, In welchem Style sollen wir Bauen? (In what style should we build?). The Rundbogenstil was based on a dynamic vision of historical evolution in which the interaction of the material and structural demands of construction with the spiritual requirements of different cultures followed laws that could be studied and extrapolated to create modern buildings in the trajectory of historical progress.43 It was a position with distinct parallels to that of the Romantics in France. Faced with this somewhat elusive opponent, the Gothic Revivalists articulated increasingly a position that sought to counter both the historical ideology and the formal preferences of the position they saw as eclectic, and which Reichensperger viewed with as much suspicion as his friend Lassus had in France.

In the wake of the 1848 revolutions in Prussia, Reichensperger had served in the preliminary assembly convened in Frankfurt with the aim of drafting a constitution for a united Germany. He quickly emerged as an outspoken proponent of the Grossdeutschland position which sought a union that would include Austria. It would associate Austria’s political power with the German project and draw on its largely Catholic population to create a more evenly divided mix of Catholic and Protestant in the united state. Although the Frankfurt assembly was dissolved after one year and had few concrete results, Reichensperger continued his active political career in the Prussian Parliament, to which he was elected in 1850 (no doubt on the basis of the great local support he had for his years of labor for the cathedral cause) as a delegate from the Rhineland. Gothic architecture remained central to his vision of Prussia, and a future Germany, as a state which could accommodate regional differences and religious diversity, promote private initiatives, and allow the blossoming of individual rights. Architectural reform was to serve as an opening wedge.

The building boom that accompanied Berlin’s population explosion and planned expansion in the early 1850s was firmly under the control of Schinkel’s pupils, who were seeking diversely to interpret the mandate of the great master’s career.44 Many of them specialized in a single aspect of the diverse solutions Schinkel had devised for domestic or public, rural or urban building programs. A core group, however, sought to adopt the progressive vision of stylistic development their master had left in his unfinished architectural textbook and made manifest in his last great public building, the Bauakademie (1831–35). The Bauakademie housed both the central building administration of Prussia, which sought to enforce standards of construction and design throughout the far-flung Prussian provinces, and the school of architecture. Its challenging architecture sought to derive a modern synthesis from the legacy of Greek and Gothic architecture, which Schinkel viewed as elements in a continual development rather than as irresolvable counter propositions. The whole was realized with the most efficient spanning forms of construction—the segmental arch and vault—and in brick and terra-cotta, materials at once with a pedigree in North German Gothic and a future in burgeoning Prussian industrialization.45

The implicit conflict between these two visions of the future direction of German architecture erupted in February 1852 when Reichensperger decided to oppose the normally routine annual appropriation for the Bauakademie. The Bauakademie “and all its related institutions must vanish from our budget,” Reichensperger insisted on the floor of the Prussian Parliament. Only the eradication of this institution of centralization would permit the development of an independent national architectural expression. Like the Gothic, it would have its origins in the building yards and be decentralized and individualistic, even as it found unity as the natural expression of national character. “I hope that we will thereafter acquire straightforward apprentices and deft masters once more.”46 In the heat of rhetorical exchange he let fly not only at the institutions housed in the Bauakademie but at Schinkel’s building itself. This he variously represented as a modern Tower of Babel in its stylistic eclecticism and as an incongruous Grecian, even foreign, intrusion on the banks of the Spree River, reflecting the conflicting legacy of Schinkel as the father both of a revived Hellenism and a progressive synthetic historicism. For a moment the Bauakademie and Cologne Cathedral seemed poised to become the irreconcilable poles of the debate over an appropriate national style, with each party claiming that history, nationality, and an experimental inventive artistic spirit supported their position and their position alone.

The Berlin establishment, spearheaded by the architectural press, was galvanized into action. In the Zeitschrift für Bauwesen, Reichensperger’s speech was paraphrased and refuted line for line. Reichensperger was accused of ignorance in architecture (the Bauakademie was scarcely a Grecian building), of being willfully dismissive of Prussian history (the current state of Prussian architecture and public art was a fitting memorial to Prussia’s glorious rise), and of being a partisan Catholic. Even more telling was the virulent refutation of his historical point of view. While the value of completing Cologne Cathedral was never called into question, the extrapolation of this act of restoration to a position of revival was seen as a mockery of the laws of history that a generation of philosophers, architects, and art historians had been seeking to elucidate in Berlin in the wake of Hegel’s 1828 lectures on aesthetics. The laws of history alone argued against any return to a moment in the past. Moreover Reichensperger’s critique of what he perceived as Prussia’s unhealthy dependence on foreign inspiration—whether the imagery of ancient Greece of the academic institutions of modern France—was dismissed as an historically impossible position. For if Germans were to resist foreign influence, the editor of the Zeitschrift argued, the very mechanism of historical progress would be disabled. Gothic, just as Romanesque before it, and the German Renaissance style after it, had been born of foreign influences interacting with native talents: “Succinctly put: if the peoples that have had the greatest influence on the development of architecture, held the same narrow-minded viewpoint that Herr Reichensperger gave witness to in his speech before the Chamber, we would probably even still find ourselves among the Troglodytes and Tent-dwellers. In any case the Christlich-Romanische architectural style would never have developed, since this emerged from the roman-pagan styles.”47

An even more thoroughgoing historicist argument was developed by Franz Kugler, Schinkel’s friend and first biographer and the first director of the Altes Museum, in a revised edition of his tract on church design, Vorlesung über die Systeme des Kirchenbaues (Discourse on the systems of church architecture; revised edition 1852). Kugler sidestepped the pressing liturgical and denominational issues of the day to postulate church building as the leading barometer of the architectural health of a civilization. Echoing a frequent complaint of opponents of the Gothic Revival, Kugler noted that in the nineteenth century for the first time a natural relationship with the laws of history had been severed. In opposition both to the antiquarian position of the Gothic or classical revivals, and to the unrealistic notion that an entirely unprecedented new style could be created ex novo from solving modern demands by the laws of materials alone, Kugler postulated “a third way.” His position was based on the new science of art history with its cardinal notion that every civilization and every phase of historical time produced, spontaneously, its own distinctive stylistic expression. He even compared this position to the middle of the road in politics, implying that it was a position that evolved from historical law rather than either hopeless nostalgia or revolutionary change. Echoing Schinkel’s earlier lament that the nineteenth century was no longer graced with a naive stylistic production, Kugler argued that the modern comprehension of the laws of history offered a way out. Kugler analyzed the history of church architecture to extract a developing principle that had been carried forward by successive civilizations even as they had stamped their monuments indelibly with the particular character of their time. With intriguing parallels to Vaudoyer, who had traveled to Germany with Fortoul a few years earlier, Kugler found the solution to the dilemma of choice was not to adapt a moment in the past but rather to continue forging the chain of historical development. Follow the dictates of history he concluded: “They tell us, we should simply wait for the final goal of the movement, which imbues the spirit of modern times: the form of our architecture will generate itself.”48

As Schinkel had sought to make evident to students and public alike in the formal language of the Bauakademie, Kugler demonstrated how a comprehensive study of history—here reduced to the development of the Christian Church type—would emerge from understanding the continual dialectic between local circumstances and a larger essence of architecture inscribed in historical progress. He sought to demonstrate how the replacement of the flat entablatures over the colonnades of Early Christian churches was but the first of a long series of integrations of daring new structural solutions into an existing tradition, which both respected and transcended the model. He concluded with Schinkel’s attempts to reintegrate the dome into the organic vaulted tradition of Gothic—first proposed in his 1814 Cathedral for the Wars of Liberation—as another catalyst for a new structural and aesthetic development which would have dramatic consequences for the communal and liturgical needs of large modern Protestant churches:

We possess a rich legacy in the long chain of ecclesiastical monuments erected over the course of fifteen centuries. To use it is not simply for us an advantage, it is an obligation. The whole secret of rendering this legacy useful, from our point of view, resides in the skill of knowing how to differentiate between general aesthetic principles and local and historical particularities, that is to say the modes of period taste in which these principles have expressed themselves in any given manifestation…. So if we would like to establish a firm foundation of principle for contemporary church building—to the extent that such an ideal training is in fact our goal—it would behoove us not so much to adopt one of the available systems for imitation or transformation, but rather to take possession of the sum total of our architectural heritage from which we might derive a general principle of form-making, one which would endow our modern ecclesiastical spaces with a lively dignity and an awe-inspiring rhythmic elevation. Thereby we will establish the positive bases upon which our artists can express the character of our time, of our sentiments, feelings, and thoughts.49

Gothic was reduced to a single manifestation of a longer essential history of the formal development of architecture, one of the many spiritual motors that had directed mankind’s creative energies. It was not the manuals of Reichensperger’s followers, with their grammars of Gothic, but a philosophical understanding of the history of architecture that would point the way to future invention.

The immediate occasion for Kugler’s position paper was renewed discussion over the construction of a new Lutheran cathedral in Berlin. The eighteenth-century building, although splendidly remodeled by Schinkel to form the fourth side of the Lustgarten between the Royal Palace and the new museum, was severely overcrowded and totally out of scale with the ambitions of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who ascended the throne in 1840 with determination to be a modern Christian monarch. His project to rebuild the cathedral was renewed in 1849 by Friedrich August Stüler with a monumental round-arched design crowned by a huge medieval dome. It was at once a fulfillment of Kugler’s program and, in the mind of the king, a worthy Protestant response to the rising symbol of Catholicism in Cologne. Work began on this new focal point for the capital in 1855 but languished as Friedrich Wilhelm IV was declared insane in 1857 and conceded power to his brother William I as regent in 1858. Although the project was revived in 1868, and Reichensperger’s disciples responded with visions of the German Gothic Cathedral, a new cathedral was not in fact commissioned until 1892, long after unification. Julius Raschdorff’s building, completed in 1905, is even today an out-scaled monument in the heart of Berlin. Its monumental size and bombastic classical rhetoric corresponded to an entirely different set of ambitions, namely to create a Protestant counterpart to Saint Peter’s in Rome. In 1880, Cologne Cathedral was inaugurated with much fanfare and neo-medieval pageantry, but the dream of a modern Gothic cathedral was to evade Reichensperger in Germany even as it had Didron in France.

Gothic and the Rise of Nationalism in Central Europe

Frustrated in his confrontation with the Berlin establishment, Reichensperger could nonetheless find much to bolster his faith in the Gothic Revival cause as he looked across the map of Central Europe in the mid-1850s. Although in the north of Germany individual architects were to explore regional variants of the Gothic—particularly the school of Conrad Wilhelm Hase in Hannover with its revival of the northern brick or Backsteingothik—it was in the Catholic south that the Gothic future seemed the rosiest in 1852.

In 1850 an unusual competition had been announced by King Maximilian II of Bavaria, who had assumed the-throne in the wake of the 1848 uprisings in Munich. The project centered on a grand public building to house an educational institution for future statesmen. Its site was on a prominent hill culminating a new boulevard, the Maximilianstrasse, that would span the Isar River. A long document sent to each competitor, however, also spelled out a larger mandate, namely the definition of a single appropriate nineteenth-century style.50 The stage was set for another battle between stylistic purists and advocates of a progressive historicism, a promise made more concrete with the casting of the jury on April 15, 1852. It included two of the leading Gothicists of the German lands: Zwirner from Cologne and Karl Heideloff from Nuremberg, in addition to F. C. Gau, author of Sainte Clotilde in Paris. But the Goths were outnumbered by the Neoclassicists, led by Leo von Klenze, and a diverse group who might be called “historicists” which included Friedrich-August Stüler from Berlin, Heinrich Hübsch from Karlsruhe, and Friedrich Bürklein from Munich. Only seventeen entries were submitted, including one by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia who proposed that Bavaria develop its own national architecture by translating the wooden houses of the Alps into a monumental urban stone style. He believed (along with Klenze) that the alpine houses were ultimately descended from the same models as the Greek temples. Already nationalist particularisms were gaining the upper hand over stylistic unity. First prize went to Wilhelm Stier of Berlin, one of the most original theorists of a hybrid style derived from an analysis of the principles of historical development, although his precise response to the central question of the period encapsulated in the Bavarian king’s brief has yet to resurface.51 But despite this defeat for the Gothic position, when work actually began on the Maximilianstrasse in the mid-1850s, now entrusted to Bürklein, who had served on the jury, a highly original vocabulary of “developed Gothic” was favored to cater to the longstanding Gothic tastes of the monarch. Dubbed overnight the “Maximilianstil,”it entered the scenographic and eclectic landscape of Munich not as a resolution to the problem of historical style but as an expansion of the representational dialectics available. The Tower of Babel had not yet been taken.

Austria, Prussia’s great rival throughout the mid-nineteenth century, emerged in the 1850s as most receptive to the architectural ideology emanating from Cologne. There had been little Austrian interest in the Gothic during the first half of the nineteenth century—despite such impressive historical monuments as Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna—but in 1853 the Gothic was prescribed as the requisite style for the great Votive Church (the Votivkirche) that Emperor Franz Josef determined to build. Its construction was to celebrate his 1853 escape from the bullet of a Hungarian nationalist assassin. It would be “a monument of patriotism and of devotion of the people of Austria to the Imperial House.” The Votivkirche competition (open from April 2, 1854 to January 31, 1855) as well as the 1857 competition for a new Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna—two of the most prominent monuments on Vienna’s emerging Ringstrasse—were to prove major magnets for the younger generation of Gothicists rising through the ranks of the Cologne Cathedral stoneyard. Almost without rival in their expertise in Gothic design and technique, they were soon challenged to adapt their stylistic fluency to the complex issue of nationality in the Hapsburg Empire where Czechs, Hungarians, Slovenes, Italians, and others were seeking either independence or a degree of national autonomy within the empire.

Although the Votivkirche commission was awarded to a young Viennese architect, Heinrich Ferstel, otherwise untrained in the Gothic, the competition proved one of the major showcases for the formidable Gothic talent that Zwirner’s training and Reichensperger’s vigilance had fostered in Cologne. In addition to Georg Gottlob Ungewitter, known even in his own day as the German Pugin, Vincenz Statz and Friedrich Schmidt, both master masons at Cologne, submitted projects. They took second and third prizes respectively with designs derived from close study of Cologne as a model for future designs. As fate would have it they both won important commissions in Austria within the next two years. In 1857 Statz was appointed architect for a new cathedral at Linz, where the dream of a new Gothic cathedral was realized in Catholic Austria between 1857 and 1922. In the same year Schmidt emerged as victor in the competition for Vienna City Hall; his Gothic design established an image for the German town hall that was to have much greater progeny than Scott’s widely publicized winning competition design for the new Rathaus in Hamburg. In 1857 Schmidt was also asked by the Austrians to take up a position in the academy in Milan, where he would spread the word of the revival of medieval art and of restoration in the twilight years of Austrian Lombardy. Two years later he was given a post in the academy in Vienna, the first major Gothicist to penetrate the establishment, followed by his appointment as chief architect to the restoration of Saint Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna, which began in 1863 and continued for decades.52 In addition Schmidt would advise on restoration projects throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From these posts, Schmidt formed more Gothic Revivalists than any other architect in Europe, men who would carry his style and ideals to the most diverse contexts. Between his office and his studio at the academy he built up an efficient Gothic machine, while remaining faithful to the humble creed of workmanship and individuality forged at Cologne. His tombstone was inscribed “Hier ruht in Gott ein deutscher Steinmetz” (Here lies in peace a German stonemason).

Even more remarkable than the selective use of the Gothic by the Imperial Austrian household and the liberal bourgeoisie of Vienna,53 each to their own ends, is the role Schmidt’s pupils played in promoting Gothic restoration and revival in the diverse non-German parts of the Hapsburg Empire. Rather than fostering the universal Gothic Revival, which Reichsensperger would continue to campaign for even after German unification in 1870, Gothic restoration and neo-Gothic went hand-in-hand as instruments of national consciousness in the Hapsburg Empire. Despite its successful squelching of the 1848–49 uprisings throughout the empire, the regime of Franz Josef II was nearly everywhere forced slowly to negotiate various degrees of local autonomy, giving in over the course of the 1850s and 1860s to the demands of the alliances of intellectuals who had formulated a vision of national identity based on ethnicity and language. The 1850s were to be repressive years in the Hapsburg lands, and architecture continued to apply the neo-Renaissance vocabulary of central authority when building was undertaken. But with the gradual granting of powers to the provinces, first to the Czech lands in the 1850s, and then to the Kingdom of Hungary in the famous “Hungarian Compromise” of 1867, Gothic architecture was poised to join the ongoing efforts at purifying the national tongue which had already fueled the great initiatives of collecting folk literatures and writing national dictionaries in the preceding decades.

Under Hapsburg Rule since the early sixteenth century, the Czechs found in the Gothic an image of the great period of the kings of Bohemia who had built the remarkable Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle and sponsored one of the grandest of Gothic workshops in Saint Vitus Cathedral. Over the course of the late 1850s and early 1860s a number of concessions were made to the increasingly vociferous demands of Czech nationalists in favor of the territorial integrity of Bohemia and Moravia, of the right to elementary school education in Czech rather than German (a full language decree would not be passed until 1880 however), and the abolition of tariffs, allowing Czech small industry to prosper. In 1859 the Cathedral Commission was established to complete Saint Vitus Cathedral within the confines of Prague Castle, a project that was to serve for decades as the centerpiece of the search for Czech identity within the ethnically diverse Hapsburg conglomerate. Paralleling the efforts to purify the Czech language and fortify it in the battle against the German-speaking aristocracy, the cathedral was restored and completed in the principle of stylistic unity, taking inspiration at once from the writings of Viollet-le-Duc and the doctrine of Cologne. The cathedral workshop, which was later to foster a belated Gothic Revival in Czech architecture, was placed under the direction of Josef Kranner and Josef Möcker, who had trained under Schmidt in Vienna.

Even more striking is the case of Hungary, where the Magyar Nationalists had set the tone for the demands that the Czechs and Southern Slavs were making in these decades. The 1850s saw little building activity in the wake of the suppression by the Hapsburg troops of the 1848/49 Revolution in Budapest. But after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which granted Hungary self-determination in its internal affairs, the need for a Hungarian past became a pressing necessity. Three of Schmidt’s most gifted pupils, the Hungarians Imre Steindl, Frigyes Schulek, and Ferenc Schulcz, crafted a series of medieval landmarks in the center of Budapest which were in sharp counterpoint to the prevalent Renaissance Revival of the prominent administrative buildings in the Hungarian capital, similar to those favored throughout the Empire.54 A national church for the Hungarians was created with the restoration of the Church of Saint Mathias on the crest of Buda overlooking the Danube. Work here began under Schulek’s direction shortly after the coronation there of Franz Josef and Elisabeth as king and queen of Hungary in 1867.

The nationalist ideology of the Hungarian Gothic Revival was especially stamped in the 1860s by the theories of Imre Henszlmann, who had first become interested in the “Old German” churches of Hungary in the 1840s, but soon developed notions that would lead him to envision Gothic as a way of differentiating Magyar Hungary from Germanic Austria. He spent the decade of the 1850s abroad in England and France—the leading centers of debate over the Gothic Revival—where he developed his highly influential theory of Gothic proportions. His claim to have discovered the secret of the Gothic masons generated considerable excitement and was taken up especially by Lassus and Violletle-le-Duc, who thanked Henszlmann by name in the Dictionnaire. Henszlmann returned to Hungary after participating in the Lille Cathedral competition, where he was associated with two neo-Gothic architects from Rheims, and entering alone the Crimean War Chapel competition. In 1861 he collaborated on an entry in the competition for a new headquarter for the Hungarian Academy—a building with a high ideological charge as Hungary strove to craft a national identity within the empire. Associations with the great monuments crowning Buda were of importance to be sure, but Henszlmann explained neo-Gothic design with arguments reminiscent of Viollet-le-Duc’s vision. He “argued that gothic had been invented in France, which was important because all things German were extremely unpopular in Hungary in those years, owing to the defeat of the Hungarians at the hands of the Austrians in the war of independence. He called gothic the style of freedom in contrast to Romanesque monastic architecture, and the style of enlightened institutions like the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.”55 In the heat of the moment, Gothic, which no one considered indigenous to Hungary, had the great advantage of not following Austrian norms. Although the competition was won by Stüler from Berlin with a neo-Renaissance style design, the Gothic would ultimately triumph as the symbol of Hungarian national freedom with Steindl’s 1883 design for the great Gothic Revival Hungarian Parliament.56 It was completed on the banks of the Danube River, a dramatic site, in 1904. It might even be said that Viollet-le-Duc’s arguments in favor of the association of the Gothic with the rise of the free bourgeoisie was to have even greater resonance in Central Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century than in France.

The history of the Gothic Revival in Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary extends into the last third of the nineteenth century and far beyond the direct legacy of Pugin. While Pugin’s utopian vision of Gothic as a beacon for the future continued to find renewed life in new arenas—notably in Flanders—direct support of the nationalist uses of Gothic restoration and revival was sought in the two continental models of nationhood: in that grandfather of national ideology, France, and in the most spectacular success of nation-making in the century, Germany. The majority of the great movements for national identity in the last third of the nineteenth century were to give renewed potency to Gothic Revival ideology and to draw heavily upon the joint legacies of Viollet-le-Duc’s theories and the practices defined in the two great cathedral workshops of Paris and Cologne. By the end of the century Schmidt’s pupils, for instance, could be found practicing throughout Germany, Austria, Moravia, Bohemia, Hungary, Croatia, Galicia in Poland, and Austrian Trieste, as well as in the Netherlands and Switzerland. One pupil, Josef Vancas, was serving as Cathedral Architect in Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina.57 Viollet-leDuc, increasingly under the spell of Count Gobineau’s theories of racial purity, was consulted throughout Europe, but most particularly in the younger countries of Central and Eastern Europe, for both practical advice on medieval restoration and on the thorny issues of defining a national architectural style. Croats, Poles, Belgians, Dutch, Norwegians, Swedes, Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, and Romanians all consulted the great master either through official channels or individually in the name of the international Gothic cause.58 But just as he admonished his own pupils in 1863 for attempting to please him by imagining a pure neo-Gothic design for the French colonies in North Africa, so Viollet-le-Duc sought to direct each of his diverse interlocutors to discovering in their own past a principle at once rational and national.

The culmination came with the invitation in 1877 by a group of Russian Slavophiles to write a book on Russian art and architecture that it might guide them in valorizing a nationalist past and defining a national future. Although he never visited Russia, relying instead on materials sent him by Viktor Butovsky and those collected by his own son-in-law, Maurice Ouradou, Viollet-le-Duc advised the Russians on the method for finding a starting point in the architecture that preceded Peter the Great’s enslavement of the Russian genius to the blind imitation of western forms. But he warned them of falling into the trap of slavishly imitating any single monument, rather encouraged them to find the rational strand in the development of Slavic forms and to “choose from among these elements those most capable of improvement, those which derive from the most pure and original sources, the sources that conform most closely to the national genius.”59 Although he left the project of formal experimentation to Russian architects, he offered a vision of a progressive direction in which the tradition of Muscovite brick construction and centralized onion-domed spaces was extended to admit the modern possibilities of cast-iron construction in the form of diagonal piers and to solve the modern problem of a huge place of modern assembly. For Viollet-le-Duc this design embodied the great challenge of the age, whether it be in the older states of France and Britain or in nations just now forging their particular identity: to retain the universal rational essence of Gothic architecture while following the specific historical and regional expressions that expressed the particular genius of the diverse nation states of modern Europe. The different languages of modern Europe were to his mind perfectly compatible in the search for the higher laws of all architecture. His arguments having matured in the debates of the 1850s, Viollet-le-Duc hoped that the cause of rational architecture could take root in new soil, free of the battles of the styles that had raged in the early years of the movement in France, Germany, and Britain.

© Bard Graduate Center, Barry Bergdoll.

1.“M. Pugin est mort; mais il revit dans son fils aîné et dans … huit ou dix autres jeunes architectes que se vouent dans la Grande Bretagne, à l’architecture du moyen-âge” (A. N. Didron, “Renaissance de l’Architecture Chrétienne,” Annales Archéologiques 13 [1853]: 314–27, here cited, p. 321).

2.“Le grec est vaincu jusque dans sa dernière citadelle, jusque dans son propre berceau” (ibid.).

3.“Voilà done le style ogival en Californie et nous pouvons done lui appliquer ce qu’on disait autrefois de la liberté: “L’ogive fera le tour du monde” (Annales Archéologiques 13 [1853], p. 270).

4.Belgian Gothic Revival was probably closer to Pugin’s ideas than other national movements, thanks to A. G. B. Schayes (a frequent contributor to Didron’s Annales Archéologiques), and to T. H. King, an Englishman living in Bruges. King published what was ostensibly a French translation of Pugin’s True Principles under the title Les Vrais Principes de l’Architecture Ogivale ou Chrétienne, avec des remarques sur leur renaissance au temps actuel (Bruges, 1850). This was a compilation of elements of True Principles and Contrasts with plates relating to Belgian examples of Neoclassical work and the Belgian architectural and social situation. For further information on King and the Flemish Gothic Revival, see Jan de Maeyer, De Sint-Lucasscholen en de neogotiek. 1862–1914 (Leuven, 1988), and Jean van Cleven, ed., Neogotiek in Belge (Ghent, 1994).

5.There has been considerable work recently on the new attitudes to history catalyzed by the French Revolution. See especially Anthony Vidler, “Grégoire, Lenoir et les ‘monuments parlants,’ in Jean-Claude Bonnet, ed., La Carmagnole des Muses, L’homme de lettres et l’artiste dans la Révolution (Paris, 1988), pp. 131–54; and Françoise Choay, L’Allégoire du Patrimoine (Paris, 1992), esp. pp. 76–95. Also see the earlier, classic sources by Paul Léon, La Vie des Monuments Français (Paris, 1951); and Louis Réau, Histoire du Vandalisme (Paris, 1958; reprint 1994).

6.For an excellent summary of this, see Laurent Thies, “Guizot et les institutions de mémoire,” in Pierre Nora, ed., Les Lieux de Mémoire: La Nation (Paris 1986), vol. 2, pp. 569–92. For the Museum at Versailles, see Michael Marrinan, Painting Politics for Louis Philippe (New Haven, 1988). For the Commission des Monuments Historiques, see the works listed in note 5 and Françoise Bercé, Les Premiers Travaux de Ia Commission des Monuments Historiques, 1837–1848 (Paris, 1979).

7.On Viollet-le-Duc and Lassus’s activities at the Commission des Monuments Historiques, see Viollet-le-Duc, exhib. cat. (Paris, 1980), esp. pp. 50–59; and Jean-Michel Leniaud, Jean-Baptiste Lassus (1807–1857), ou le temps retrouvé des cathédrales (Paris, 1980), esp. pp. 64ff.

8.There is a growing literature on the Romantic group, but their interactions with the Gothic party has been little discussed. For an orientation, see Barry Bergdoll, Léon Vaudoyer: Historicism in the Age of Industry (New York, 1994), esp. chaps. 3 and 4. Duban’s key position between the two groups will be elucidated in a 1996 exhibition catalogue edited by Françoise Hamon, Bruno Foucart, and Sylvain Bellenger (Paris, forthcoming).

9.For a summary of Duban’s reports and comments, see Jacques Pons, “Félix-Jacques Duban: Architecte du gouvernement 1797–1870,” thesis, Ecole Nationale des Chartes, 1985; Annie Cospéric, Blois, la forme d’une ville, étude topographique et monumentale (Paris, 1994); and forthcoming catalogue cited in n. 8.

10.A. C. Quatremère de Quincy, “Gothique,” Encyclopédie methodique. Paris, 1832.

11.For a summary of Viollet-le-Duc’s historical views, see Martin Bressani, “Notes on Viollet-le-Duc’s Philosophy of History: Dialectics and Technology,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 48 (1989), pp. 327–50; and Robin Middleton, “The Rationalist Interpretations of Léonce Reynaud and Viollet-le-Duc,” AA Files 11 (1986), pp. 29–48. On Viollet-le-Duc’s Dictionnaire in relationship to academic theory, and to Quatremère de Quincy in particular, see Barry Bergdoll, The Foundations of Architecture: Selections from the Dictionnaire Raisonné of Viollet-le-Duc (New York, 1990), introduction.

12.Viollet-le-Duc, “Un mot sur l’architecture en 1852,” Revue Générale de l’Architecture 10 (1852), pp. 371–79.

13.For a summary of this research, see notes and bibliographical references, and the dictionary of artists, in Jean-Michel Leniaud, Les Cathédrales au XIXe siècle (Paris, 1993). Also see François Loyer and Hélène Guéné, L’Eglise, l’Etat et les Architects, Rennes, 1870–1940 (Paris, 1995). For a fine study on the Charente area and Bordeaux, see Claude Laroche, Paul Abadie, architecte, 1812–1884 (Paris, 1988).

14.On the role of the state’s administrations of ecclesiastical architecture, most importantly the Service des Edifices Diocésains, see Jean-Michel Leniaud, Les Cathédrales au XIXe siècle (Paris, 1993); idem, L’Administration des cultes pendant Ia période concordataire (Paris, 1988); and Bergdoll, Léon Vaudoyer, pp. 200–206.

15.For a summary of the Saint-Simonian vision of history, see Middleton, “The Rationalist Interpretations,” pp. 29–48.

16.“Le sentiment et la science de l’art gothique” (quoted in Leniaud, Les Cathédrales, p. 284).

17.“Répétons encore que nous ne faisons pas d’archéologie en purs oisfs, mais en gens qui demandent au passé tout ce qu’il pourrait donner au présent et surtout à l’avenir”

(Annales Archéologiques 4 [1846], 3e livraison). For a summary of the major issues raised in the magazine and its international relations, see Georg Germann, Gothic Revival in Europe and Britain: Sources, Influences and Ideas (Cambridge, Mass., 1972), pp. 135–50. For an excellent discussion of Didron, see Catherine Brisac and Jean-Michel Leniaud, “Adolphe-Napoléon Didron ou les media au service de l’art chrétien,” Revue de l’Art 77 (1987), pp. 33–42.

18.“Plus tard, à faire mieux si nous pouvons” (Jean-Baptiste Lassus, “De l’art et archéologie,” Annales Archéologiques 2 [1845], p. 329).

19.Jean-Baptiste Lassus, Réaction de l’Académie des Beaux-Arts contre l’art gothique (Paris, 1846).

20.On the central role of Sainte Clotilde in the evolution of the Gothic Revival in France, see Robin Middleton and David Watkin, Neoclassical and Nineteenth Century Architecture (New York, 1987), vol. 2, pp. 366–68.

21.“La France peut-être considerée comme le coeur de ce grand corps qu’on appelle l’Europe, soit à la fois destinée à recevoir toutes les influences étrangères et à exercer la sienne universellement” (Léon Vaudoyer, “Histoire de l’architecture en France,” in Edouard Charron, Patria [Paris, 1846], vol. 2).

22.“Quai, le gothique serait notre art national! et nous devrions répudier routes les conquêtes qui ont été faites depuis! Quoi! telles seraient les barnes imposées au génie français, et depuis le quinzième siècle notre art aurait perdu route originalité, tout caractère! Nous ne pouvons le croire, l’art en général, et l’architecture particulièrement, sont soumis à l’impulsion des idées qui dominent à l’époque de leur production. L’architecture … est le plus fidèle interprète des principes, des moeurs et de l’esprit d’une nation civilisée” (Albert Lenoir and Léon Vaudoyer, “Etudes de l’Architecture en France,” Magasin Pittoresque 12 [1844], pp. 262).

23.“L’unité de style, par exemple et quai qu’on fasse, est une de ces règles fondamentales dont il est impossible de se départir; car, sans cette condition rigoureuse, il n’y a ni art ni artistes. En architecture, l’éclectisme est complétment impossible et ne présente aucun sens…. Prendre ce qu’il y a de mieux dans chaque époque, ce serait faire, en architecture, ce que l’on pratique pour composer l’un de ces costumes indispensables pour certain bals et qui sont formés des débris de vingt costumes” (Lassus, “De l’Art et Archéologie,” p. 76).

24.“Dans un pays deux choses doivent être éminemment nationales, la langue et l’architecure; c’est ce qui exprime le plus nettement le caractère d’un peuple. Nous n’avons pas abandonné notre langue; nous l’avons modifiée, peut-être à tort. Pourquoi done abanonnerions-nous notre architecture?” (E. E. Viollet-le-Duc, “De l’Art Etranger et de l’Art National,” Annales Archéologiques 2 [1845], p. 508).

25.“Enfants de Ia civilisation romaine, nous avons tout emprunté de l’antiquité; est-ce donc à dire que nous ne conservions pas une originalité propre! Il en est de l’architecture comme du langage, et si cette comparison a déjà été faite bien souvent, c’est qu’il ne saurait y en avoir de plus exacte et de plus fraprante; de ce que la langue française s’est formée d’éléments grecs, latins et italiens, n’est-elle pas, malgré cela, la juste expression de notre esprit français!” (Vaudoyer, “Histoire de l’architecture,” col. 2160).

26.For greater detail see Bergdoll, Léon Vaudoyer, esp. pp. 224–74.

27.“Il semble vouloir prouver qu’on peut allier dans un même édifice des formes appartenant à des âges et à des peuples différents. Certes, si quelqu’un est en étage de surmonter cette difficulté c’est M. Vaudoyer…. [il] sait mieux que nous qu’une architecture n’est pas le produit du hasard: quand donc, on se décide (et comment faire autrement aujourd’hui) à adopter un style, pourquoi chercher à composer une langue macaronique quand on a sur la main un beau et simple langage” (Viollet-le-Duc, ms. report of 1855, Service des Edifices Diocésains, Archives Nationales, Paris, F-19-7741; fuller citation in Bergdoll, Léon Vaudoyer, p. 254).

28.“Tous les monuments enfantés par le moyen âge seraientils irréprochables, qu’ils ne devaient donc pas être aujourd’hui servilement copiés, si l’on élève un édifice neuf, ce n’est qu’un langage dont il faut apprendre à se servir pour exprimer sa pensée, mais non pour répéter ce que d’autres ont dit…” (E. E. Viollet-le-Duc, Dictionnaire Raisonné de l’Architecture [Paris, 1854], vol. 1, pp xv–xvi).

29.“On étudie, on copier les vieux monuments nationaux, naguère encore si méconnus”; and “Nous attendons sur le champ de bataille de Lille les architectes de tous les pays, pour juger loyalement la victoire soit aux étrangers, soit aux français” (A. N. Didron, “Une cathédrale au concours,” Annales Archéologiques 16 [1856], p. 115).

30.Although the competition and its role in the French Gothic Revival await proper study, the importance of this competition for the development of English High Victorian Gothic has been underscored; see especially Stefan Muthesius, The High Victorian Movement in Architecture, 1850–1870 (London, 1972), esp. pp. 117ff. See also J. M. Crook, William Burges and the High Victorian Dream (Chicago, 1981).

31.The report is reproduced in full in Leniaud, Jean-Baptiste Lassus, pp. 243–55.

32.“The Competition for the Proposed Cathedral at Lille,” The Ecclesiologist 17 (1856), p. 91.

33.“M. Lassus on Eclecticism in Art,” The Ecclesiologist 17 (1857), p. 285.

34.Ibid., p. 286.

35.“… ce monument sans pareil que sera national comme Ia cathédrale de Reims, beau comme celle d’Amiens, solide comme celle de Chartres selon l’expression de Didron” (Louis Cloquet, quoted in Chanoine H. Vandame, Iconographie de Ia Basilique Notre Dame de la Treille à Lille [Lille, 1906], p. 1).

36.E. E. Viollet-le-Duc, “Unité,” Dictionnaire Raisonné de l’Architecture, vol. 9, p. 345, quoted in Bergdoll, The Foundations, p. 28.

37.On Schinkel’s interest in Gothic see Georg Friedrich Koch, “Karl Friedrich Schinkel und die Architektur des Mittelalters,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 29 (1966), pp. 177–222; idem, “Schinkels architektonische Entwürfe im gotischen Stil 1810–1815,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 32 (1969), pp. 262–316; and Barry Bergdoll, Karl Friedrich Schinkel: An Architecture for Prussia (New York, 1994).

38.This story has been well studied: see Germann, Gothic Revival; Hugo Borger, ed., Der Kölner Dom im Jahrhundert seiner Vollendung, exhib. cat. 2 vols. (Cologne, 1980); Michael Lewis, The Politics of the German Gothic Revival: August Reichensperger (New York, 1993).

39.Quoted in Germann, Gothic Revival, p. 94.

40.Lewis, The Politics, p. 24.

41.Germann, Gothic Revival, p. 160.

42.See W. D. Robson-Scott, The Literary Background of the Gothic Revival in Germany (Oxford, 1965), esp. pp. 129–45.

43.On the debates over the Rundbogenstil in the 1830s and 40s, see In what style should we build?: the German debate on architectural style. Intro. / trans. by Wolfgang Hermann (Santa Monica, 1992).

44.Eva Börsch-Supan, Berliner Baukunst nach Schinkel, 1840–1870. Munich, 1977.

45.On the Bauakademie see Bergdoll, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, pp. 195­–208, with older bibliography.

46.Translated and quoted in Lewis, The Politics, p. 155.

47.“Mit einem Wörte: Wenn die Völker, die auf die Entwicklung der Architektur vornämlich von Einfluss gewesen sind, in ähnlichen engherzigen Anschauungen befangen gewesen wäre, wie Herr Reichensperger sie in seiner Kammerrede kund gibt, so würden wir vermuthlich noch jetzt zu den Troglodyten und Zeltenbewohnern gehören; jedenfalls aber würde sich niemals der christlich-romanische Baustyl entwickelt haben, da derselbe ja durchaus vom römische-heidnischen Stile ausging” (“Der Abgeordnete Reichensperger und die Baukunst,” Zeitschrift für Bauwesen 2 [1852], p. 234).

48.“Sie sagt uns, wir sollten nur das endliche Ziel der Bewegungen, welche die Geister der neueren Zeit erfüllen, abwarten: die Form würde sich dann schon von selber finden” (Franz Kugler, Vorlesung über die Systeme des Kirchenbaues, gehalten am 4. März 1843 im wissenschaftlichen Verein zu Berlin von F. Kugler, 2nd ed. [Berlin, 1852], p. 3). Written in 1843, it was republished in 1852 during the debates over the Bauakademie.

49.“Es liegt uns in der langen Folgenreihe der kirchlichen Monumente, die im Laufe von 15 Jahrhunderten entstanden sind, ein reiches Erbtheil vor, dessen Benutzung nicht bloß unser Vortheil, sonder auch unsre Pflicht ist. Das ganze Geheimniß, wie wir dasselbe der Benutzung von unsrer Seite zugänglich zu machen haben, berught eben nur darin, daß wir die allgeinenen ästhetischen Principien von den lokalen und historischen Besonderheiten der Erscheinung, von der Weise des Zeitgeschmackes, in der sie sich ausgeprägt haben, zu unterscheiden wissen…. Wollen wir demnach für die Zwecke des heutigen Kirchenbaues—sofern dabei überhaupt eine ideale Durchbildung erstrebt wird—zu einer festen Grundlage, zu einem klaren Urtheil gelangen, so scheint es nöthig, nich sowhol ein einzelnes der vorhandenen Systeme zur Nachbildung oder Umbildung vorzunehmen, als vielmehr aus der ganzen Summe unsrer Erfahurungen jene allgemeinen Gesetze der Formenbildung, durch welche der kirchliche Raum lebenvolle Würde und fierliche rhythmische Erhebung gewinnt, uns zu eigen zu machen…. Dadurch gewinnen wir den positiven Inhalt, dem der schaffender Künstler das Gepräge unsrer Zeit, unsrers Sinnens, Fühlens und Denkens, aufzudrücken vermag” (ibid., pp. 22–23).

50.For studies of this event, see Eberhard Drüeke, Der Maximilianstil, Zum Stilbergriff der Architektur im 19. Jahrhundert (Mittenwald, 1981) and August Hahn, Der Maximilianstil in Munchen, Programm und Verwirklichung (Munich, 1982) .

51.On Stier, see Börsch-Supan, Berliner Baukunst.

52.On the participation of Cologne architects in Austrian competitions, particularly the Linz Cathedral commission, see Lewis, The Politics, pp. 175–82, 195–99. On Friedrich Schmidt, see Historisches Museum, Friedrich von Schmidt (1825–1891), Ein gothischer Rationalist (Vienna, 1991).

53.For an excellent discussion of the relationship of style to the politics of the Imperial Household and the enfranchised bourgeoisie of Vienna in this period, see Carl E. Schorske, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, Politics and Culture (New York, 1981), pp. 24ff.

54.For this summary of Hungarian Gothic Revival I am most indebted to the advice and publications of József Sisa, whose forthcoming contributions to the history of Hungarian architecture, which Dora Wiebenson is editing for the MIT Press, will greatly expand our understanding of this complex issue. In the interim, see Jòzsef Sisa, “Steindl, Schulek und Schulcz—Drei ungarische Schüler des Wiener Dombaumeisters Friedrich von Schmidt,” Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Vergleichende Kunstforschung in Wien 37 (Sept. 1985), pp. 1–8.

55.Jòzsef Sisa, “Imre Steindl and Neo-Gothic in Hungary in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Rossana Bossaglia, ed., Il Neogotico nel XIX e XX secolo (Milan, 1989), vol. 1., p. 142.

56.László Csorba, Jòzsef Sisa, and Zoltán Szalay, The Hungarian Parliament (Budapest, 1993).

57.See “Verzeichnis jener Schmidtschüler, welche an der k.k. Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien inskribiert waren,” (1905) reprinted in Historische Museum Friedrich von Schmidt, pp. 231–38.

58.A synthetic study of Viollet-le-Duc’s influence, in particular in relationship to nationalist ideologies, has yet to be undertaken; in the interim, see Pierre-Marie Auzas, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, 1814–1879 (Paris, 1979; first published 1965), pp. 219–51; Actes du Colloque International Viollet-le-Duc, Paris 1980 (Paris, 1982), pp. 223–24.

59.E. E. Viollet-le-Duc, L’Art russe: ses origines, ses éléments constitutifs, son apogée, son avenir (Paris, 1877). For an analysis of this text see Robin Middleton, “Viollet-le-Ducksy?”, Architectural Design 49 (1970), pp. 67–68; and, with impressive detail on the Slavophile context in Russia in the 1870s, Lauren M. O’Connell, “A Rational, National Architecture: Viollet-le-Duc’s Modest Proposal for Russia,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 52 (1993), pp. 436–52.