Arthur Lincoln Frothingham Russell Sturgis.

A history of architecture, Volume 1 online

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archivolts and lintels and similar decorative adjuncts of stone build-
ings. Almost universally, however, these pieces seem to be controlled
by a Greco-Roman, and therefore a later influence. And yet they are
not Greco-Roman, neither in exactness of detail nor in the inherent
character of the design. Thus, Fig. 209 gives the capital of a pilaster

at Caere, and Fig. 210 is another from
.'^ :\. .. - . ...irc the Etruscan museum in Florence; and

in each of these is seen something of that
wish to combine leafage with the volute,
which led to the Corinthian and later to
the Roman Composite style.

According to Vitruvius (Book III, 3)
the Etruscan temple was of a recog-
nized type. Indeed, Vitruvius allows of
no other style of temple among the pre-
Roman Italians; but he is not a careful
210— Capital of pilaster in Etrus- writer, nor onc who is concemed with the

can Maseum. Florence (From gxactneSS of hiS reCOrd. He aSSUmCS that
Hdbch. Etr. und Rom.)

the columns are of stone, and that upon
the four colunms which form the portico there shall be two heavy tim-
bers side by side, the two together as wide (or thick) as the top of the
column. He tells how these timbers arc to be held together, with an
air space between them to keep them from decay. Upon these timbers



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276



THE ITALIAN PEOPLES



[Bk. IV






-i-




^



•-#•



4 4 ^



he sets up a triangular wall (the tympanum of the pediment) either of
masonry or of wood-work, and the roof is projected beyond this wall
as much as one-quarter of the height of the column. Then the dif-
ferent members of the wooden roof, the rafters, the purlins, and finally
the roofing and the tiles, are to be brought together, and the roof so
framed that its pitch shall be one to three. In another place he says
that the cella is of three parts, having three chambers side by side and

dedicated to three divin-
ities; but whether he ^
means to say that even-
temple was divided
among three divine per-
sonages or not, we may
well doubt. The plan
of his Etruscan temple,
then, is, as in Fig. 211,
in the parts shown Wack.
It had long been ac-
cepted as a fact that the
temple of Jupiter Capito-
linus in Rome was such
an Etruscan temple, and
this on the authority of
certain coins of the Em-
peror Domitian and of the famous bas-relief in the Palace of the
Conservators at Rome (Fig. 211 A). Later investigations have tended
to confirm another theory, viz., that there were six columns in the
front, and recent excavations on the Capitol have revealed, what was
of evident probability, that the building as enlarged and adorned by
one emperor, would present a different aspect from that which it had
under another prince. Fig. 211 shows the Etruscan temple, and an
outer colonnade of later Roman work, making a hexastyle temple out
of a tetrastyle, but leaving the triple cella unaltered.

For the purpose of this work the complete settlement of Italy
under the Roman power may be put at 200 B.C., the year after the
close of the second Punic War, and four years after the expulsion of
Hannibal from Italy. From that time on, Italy from Calabria and
Brutium on the south, nearly to the southern slope of the Alps, was
subject to the power of Rome, so that the controlling State was em-



'®- 0-



211 — ^Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus at Rome. Conjec-
tural restoration of plan. The temple is assumed to have
been tetrastyle with three celiac, and to have had a peri-
style added later. (From Martha.)



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Chap. I] BEFORE ROMAN CONTROL 277

powered to call out her soldiers from all the cities of the Peninsula
and of upper Italy — even of Cisalpine Gaul, which we now call Li-
guria, Piedmont, and Lombardy. From this time on, all the arts of
Italy are to be considered under the head of Roman art, and
it is with that date that our Book V begins. Now, it does not
appear certain, or even probable, that any of the interesting columnar
and other architectural details which are considered in the pages of



2 1 1 A— Sculptured representation of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus at Rome. From a bas-
relief once belonging to the destroyed Arch of Marcus Aurelius, near S. Martino, on the
Via di Marforio, north of the Forum; now in Palazzo dei Conservatori. The sculptures
of the pediment have been represented with some care. The temple was hexastyle at
one time, but it is probable that this came from, an added peristyle (see Fig. 211).
(From photo.)

Book V are of Italian nationality other than as may be properly de-
scribed as Roman. They are all Grecian in the last analysis; and if,
by chance, this Grecian influence came almost direct to their designers,
as must have been the case in the far south, that fact merely suffices
to take the design in question out of the subject treated in Book V
and to relegate it to Book III, in which chapter the direct Greek in-
fluence over the south of Italy is discussed at length. The architec-
ture of the earlier races of Italy does not exist for us except in such
fragments as are described above. The buildings of the south of
Italy are treated as parts of that architecture which spread from the
coast of Asia to Sicily with equal purity and equal vigour in the colonies
and the mother country.

The architecture of the city and city-stale of Rome can only be



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278 THE ITALIAN PEOPLES [Bk. IV

pictured as an inference from what little we know of Etruscan archi-
tecture, together with the very slight traces of early buildings of the
Republic which have been found in recent excavations. The opinion
which has taken shape among the excellent archaeologists who have
made the city of Rome their special study is that the buildings were
generally of brick and adorned very freely with terra-cotta mouldings,
panels, and even sculptured figures. It is also clear that this terra-
cotta decoration was commonly polychromatic.

The bricks used for ordinary house building were sun-dried only,
in the majority of cases, until the city had grown so compact that it
was cheaper to build the thinner walls which could be secured by
using fired brick. Moreover the facility of making hard-baked terra
cotta would lead instinctively toward a greater use of fired brick. We
are not to understand by this term the admirable hard-baked tiles (as
we would call them in modem times) which face the heavy walls of
the Imperial epoch, as stated in Book V. The bricks of early time
that have been found are of different sizes and of far from perfect
manufacture. These dwelling-houses might be, without impropriety,
of the slight construction named, because they were so simple, with
such low walls and so devoid of architectural pretension. The old
type of the Roman house was this — sl vestibule led directly into the
atrium, which was generally a square room open to the sky in the mid-
dle — ^not merely a court, because of the partial roof and of the many
purposes to which the room was put. Thus, if the atrium were about
20 feet square, much more than half of that space of 400 square feet
was covered by an inward-sloping roof on four sides, leaving in the
middle an open space of about 50 square feet, the compluvium. From
the edge of that roof the rain-water dripped into the tank below, the
impluvium, around which were ranged perhaps a few plants, a family
altar, and this or that treasured ornament. The strange traditions
of early times, as that the conjugal bed was always placed in the
atrium, points to the fact that this was considered the chief room of
the house. It was the eating room, and probably the kitchen also in
the humbler dwellings. The next step was easy to take, and every
citizen who had a little spare income would enlarge his house by add-
ing a separate eating room, that which was afterward called the tab-
linum, and also by an improvement in the size and quality of the small
cubicula or bedrooms opening on the atrium, so that this largest and
most open room became more and more a gathering place and the



I



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Chap. I] BEFORE ROMAN CONTROL 279

sitting room of the family, as in modern times the single kitchen has
developed into living rooms and parlours of all sorts. Still, the house
consisted of one story, with few, if any, rooms for which a staircase
was needed. There were no windows in the outer walls except where
there was a shop built into the body of the house, as explained in treat-
ing of the remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii in Book V.

The temples of Republican Rome seem to have been of the Etrus-
can type, as explained in this book. The city walls, of which large
fragments remain, were built of great blocks of tufa — ^the soft sand-
stone, partly made up of volcanic ash, which was always the material
most readily at hand, easier to quarry and easier to hew than the
harder stones of later times, travertino and peperino, according to the
modem Italian names. In like manner there are some traces of
public edifices built of that same stone. The building known as the
Tabularium is certainly of the Republican epoch in its lower story, as
seen from the Forum, and this is much the most important building
left from the time of the Republic. From the north-western side, that
is, from the modem square of the Campidoglio, this is not visible —
that which we see behind the bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius is a
building of the close of the sixteenth century, the so-called Palace of
the Senator. From the Fomm, however, the Republican building
rises, story above story, to a great height, the steep declivity of the
Capitoline Hill on that side being masked by this structure rising
100 feet or more from the temple of Vespasian at its foot. A structure
of heavy blocks of stone is found on the south-eastern peak of the
Capitoline Hill, under and close by the Palazzo Caffarelli, which is
now the German Embassy. It is thought that this palace occupies
nearly the site of the ancient temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and that
the heavy tufa stone masonry alluded to is a part of the ancient plat-
form which supported it — the substracture necessary to level up the
hase of the building by bringing its rounded forms to a horizontal
floor.

It has been noted that the famous saying attributed by Suetonius
to the first emperor, that he had found Rome of brick and left it of
marble, was more than a mere assertion that he had increased its mag-
nificence. The old city of Rome, the Rome of the Scipios and of the
Triumvirate, was a low-browed, simple town of brick houses without
much pretension; with temples built chiefly of timber, with colunms
only of stone, and with nothing in the way of stone walls and vaulting



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28o THE IT.\LIAN PEOPLES [Bk. IV

except in connection with one or two public buildings — a town im-
measurably inferior in splendour and architectural display to the
cities of the semi-Greek East, Asia Minor, Syria, and the coast of
Egypt. Augustus, as master of the Roman world, that is, of nearly
all the Mediterranean lands, began in earnest the task of giving to the
capital of the world some of the magnificence of her subject cities.



Chimxra of late Etruscan or Romano-Etruscan work. Found at Arezzo in
1552; now in the Etruscan Museum, Florence. (From photo.)



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BOOK v.— ROMAN IMPERIAL ARCHITECTURE

CHAPTER I

THE COMPONENTS OF THE ART

THE city and the small state of Rome have been considered in
Book IV. Improvements and enlargements of the simple
scheme of building came slowly. We are . told by Roman
authors when the first marble columns appeared in a dwelling-house;
when the first stone-built theatre was built ; whe^i the first basilica was
added on the north to the public space of the Forum^. beginning the
vast city of Imperial basilicas and fora. As the art of the great build-
ing nations crowded upon the simple-minded people of middle Italy
and filled their capital with foreign thoughts in architecture, so did this
capital, acting as an exchange of thought, influence the world outside.
Greece and the East pressed upon Rome, but Rome in return, while
carrying over the art of Greece and of the East to the western and
southern lands, influenced again those peoples which had most strongly
acted upon the Italian imagination.

The different elements of all the architectures of the Mediterra-
nean seem to have appeared in the Roman dominion at an earlier or a
later date, with greater or with less fulness and abundance. Post-and-
beam construction in its most highly developed form, columnar archi-
tecture, with the Ionic and Corinthian orders, had come from Greece,
either directly or by the way of the colonies in the extreme south of .
Italy and in Sicily. The round arch of wedge-shaped solids, with such
slight architectural details as it had given birth to (a structure and a
method of design not familiar in other lands) had come in from the
Etruscans in the north of Italy. There were other practices of build-
ing which modified Roman design, and chief of them a strange con-
struction which has never been traced to its source. This is the build-
ing of walls and vaults in solid masonry with abundance of mortar
made with lime and sand, or cement and sand — not mortar joints

281



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282 ROMAN IMPERIAL ARCHITECTURE [Bk. V

merely, but what is called "the bath of mortar," with small stones
bedded down into it, and with a facing of wall and vault alike either
of hard-burned bricks or of small squared stones. This way of build-
ing may have come from the later Grecian work of Western Asia; it
has been thought that the city of Alexandria, if thoroughly explored,
even now, after all the changes which the low-lying site of that city
has undergone, would still reveal the origin of that Roman building
in mortar-masonry. See the treatment of this subject m Book II: it
would not seem far from the Persian vaulting of the fourth centur}-
B.C. to that of the Pantheon.

The Etruscan arches built up of true voussoirs, and the Greek
trabeated structure as combined with elaborate systems of proportion
and of settled detail, were the two great factors which made up Im-
perial Roman design. The modifications resulting from solid mortar-
building come late in the chronological sequence, not apparently ear-
lier than loo A.D., and do not change abruptly the accepted Roman
system of design.

It is necessary to consider the way in which public buildings were
undertaken in the great provinces of the Empire. The governor of a
province, the proconsul in a quiet Romanized land, or the propretor
or general commanding armies quartered in a land as yet imperfectly
pacified, might himself desire to please his quasi subjects — the p)eopk*
of the provinces under his control — by showy buildings which, although
their own property changing hands had gone to create them, were still
an attraction to all the citizens and an added glory to one of their
cities. In this way a great theatre would be built, or a stately temple
dedicated to a local god; or a market-place would be laid out in the
heart of a crowded town and a stately colonnade built around it ; or a
wholly new town or a new quarter of an ancient city would be founder!
with a similar display of forum, porticos, temples, and a theatre. It is
often impossible for us to say whether the emperor or one of his great
ministers was nominally the giver of these, or whether the local treasury
paid for them obviously and directly. Such works as these would be
designed, naturally, in the Imperial style, whatever that might be at
the time, but modified by local feeling in one place more, in one plact
less, throughout the Mediterranean world. Syria and North Africa
show greater diversity; Spain and Gaul a stricter style. Then, ten-.
the stricter style is of the earlier years, and the serious changes which
began to destroy the purely classical nature of Roman design are mc^:



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Chap. I] THE COMPONENTS OF THE ART 283

frequent after 200 a.d., or after the death of^Septimius Severus in 211.
But as, half the time, we do not know the dates of the buildings, ex-
cept approximately, and as one and the same province shows different
and not easily explicable changes in the spirit of design, it is necessary
to treat of one leading style as lasting throughout the epoch of the
Western Empire — from about 30 B.C. to 330 a.d. — ^and to point out its
essential manifestations. Variations from this style are treated in dis-
cussing the art of the countries where such variations occur. The
marked exceptions of Egyptian and Greek style are named in their
own chronological connection (see Books I and III); but these are
really holdovers of earlier national feeling, and of well-established
and powerful architectural styles. There was nothing like those styles
in Gaul or Spain, Africa or Britain. This Imperial style we have to
consider under two chief headings, but each division, that of the
arched buildings (Chapter II of this Book) and that of the tra-
beated buildings (Chapter III), is made up in part of incongruous
elements, the frequent mixing of which elements creates the singular
thing which we know as Roman architecture.

With the Roman rule there appear new requirements, and
novelties in the purposes and the plans of buildings. There were
buildings of a class never kno\vn before; and again others arranged
for newly enlarged demands. There was the amphitheatre, for glad-
iatorial shows and fights, and for the slaughter of wild beasts. There
was that refinement of the stadium called the circus, used for chariot
racing chiefly. There were the great thermae. There were the basil-
icas in which the Grecian stoa and the Roman court-room were com-
bined. There were temples, now no longer the chief buildings of the
town but sometimes superb structures with elaborate colonnaded en-
closures. There was, also, the wholly novel device which we know as
the memorial arch — a stately decorative structure, of which it is not
safe to speak as the triumphal arch, for only a certain number of these
arches were triumphal.

When a province like Africa (properly so called — the territory
around Carthage), or Numidia, or Mauritania, was to have a building
of public importance, the style would undoubtedly be founded upon
the style then prevalent in the Imperial City and its neighbourhood
(see Figs. 243, 248). Very much the same influence would be seen
to control even more absolutely in Gaul and on the Rhine. In none
of the provinces erected in those western lands of Europe or along



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284 ROMAN IMPERIAL ARCHITECTURE [Bk. V

the north coast of Africa had there been any previously existing style
of architecture strong enough to maintain itself. The Roman Impe-
rial style, made up as described above, was taken up with eagerness
by these provincials, and modified according to their needs or accord-
ing to their mental capacity. What the Numidians and the floors
made of it is strange enough— a Roman structure adorned with details
of unknown provenience. What the Gauls made of it is business-like
and severe. But in Greece there was of course the inmiortal art of
the past which could not be ignored, and which influenced the style
of new buildings (see Fig. 203 and what is said of the Agora gate of
Athens). This very same influence existed in southern Italy: as in the
temple at Cori (described in Book III). In Eg5rpt, the style which has
been described at length in Book I had such vitality that far down the
years of Roman predominance it held its sway unaltered, and even
under Diocletian, at the beginning of the fourth century a.d., it was
strong. The temples of Edfu and Denderah, given in Book I (see
Figs. 37 to 42), are monuments of a time only just preceding that of
Diocletian, and it was found necessary to continue the thread of Eg}'p-
tian artistic history to the end, because there is nowhere the sign of any
rupture in its continuity, and also because there was no tendency of
the Egyptian style to appear elsewhere than on the banks of the Nile.
There still remain to be mentioned as a part of this Imperial
architecture the developments of Western Asia. It is in Syria that
these manifestations are the most remarkable. In spite of what tra-
ditions may have lingered on from Phoenician art and from the days
of Assyrian supremacy, and in spite of the influences coming from
the Greek tradition and from Persia — great cities of Syria were built
up in a splendid ultra-Roman style, setting an example to the Imperial
City itself. It seems to have been in Syria that the colonnaded streets
first appeared. There, as in Italy and as in Grecian lands everyw^here,
the temples had been long surrounded by columned porches, facing
inward toward the sacred enclosure. It seems to have been a devel-
opment of this idea which drew out the long rows of Ionic columns in
Gerasa (Fig. 279), and of Corinthian columns in Palmyra (Fig. 244).
Then, again, the distribution of the great temples at Baalbek (see
Fig. 305), and their huge courts of approach, is Roman Imperial ,
planning adapted to a more irregular site and more abrupt changes
of level ; and a not unfitting addition was made to Roman splendour
in the retention or revival at Baalbek of the use of enormous mate-



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Chap. I] THE COMPONENTS OF THE ART 285

rials — gigantic stone blocks — a phase of Phoenician tradition peculiar
to the people of Syria and the country back of it. For it does seem as
if a land where there was nothing but sand and stone, where wood
was almost unattainable, and where there were no beds of clay, had
taught its inhabitants to excavate the living rock, and hence perhaps
to revere the weight, the tenacity, of huge stones as being the most
visible evidence of nature's abundance and strength. The people
of no other land have shown the same love for monoliths of very
great size.

Meantime, throughout the Empire, the private houses, the smaller
public buildings of provincial towns, the baths and even the minor
basilicas, were built very largely according to the same traditions; and
when we trace the ruins of a country mansion in middle France, the
materials and the disposition are not so startlingly unlike those used
in Italy. Bricks and tiles, plaster and wood, are found to be used in
one country as in another, with only such exceptions as in parts of
Syria, where cut stone replaces them all. In this way there underlies
the stately architecture of the Imperial system, a humbler private way
of building, which unfortunately is but little studied and which it is
very difficult to observe and to compare. The ruins of private houses
are slight and perishable; they show but little architectural organization,
and those few which have promised the most for the student have been
destroyed very soon after their discovery as, notably, in the city of Rome.
It has been the worse for our modem architecture, derived as it is
mainly from Roman example, that we have had to study for our
smaller buildings, public and private, only the grandiose style which
the Romans used for the vast structures in which labour was not spared,
and for which costly materials were supplied without stint.



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CHAPTER II

THE ARCUATED BUILDINGS AND THE ITALIAN SPIRIT

THE Etruscan influence is found in the buildings of which the
walls are of cut stone, the openings of door and window
closed at top with arches made up of stone voussoirs, and
which are often roofed with stone vaultings. Cut stone was used
in antiquity where other materials were scanty, as we have noted
in Egypt, or where a permanently monumental character of building
was sought especially, as in Greece; but nowhere was the construc-
tional arch used for architectural effect except among the Etruscans.

The ordinary "round arch," tliat is, an arch whose intrados and
extrados are laid out on concentric circles, is very familiar to all per-
sons who notice buildings. Such arches are shown in Figs. 204 and
205, and in many of the illustrations in the present Book. There
was also in common use among the Etruscans, and among the Romans
as well, the ^'flat arch," that is, a member horizontal at top and bottom,
and resembling in all respects a lintel, but made up of voussoirs or
wedge-shaped solids acting one upon another, exactly as in the case of
a round arch. It would not be hard to find examples of Etruscan
work of this kind in connection with city walls and ruined theatres,
and early and undated Roman work offers many such examples.



Online LibraryArthur Lincoln Frothingham Russell SturgisA history of architecture, Volume 1 → online text (page 21 of 30)