In What Ways Did Pugin Dissent from Tradition?

  • Submitted by: spelagodec
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  • Category: Arts
  • Date Submitted: 07/10/2010 10:33 AM
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In What Ways Did Pugin Dissent from Tradition?

To dissent from tradition is to defy a stultifying tradition or convention, which leads to new, daring styles (Richardson, McKellar, Woods, 2008, p.109). The “tradition” of architectural style in the early 19th Century in Great Britain was classicism, inspired by Roman and Greek culture and associated with democracy as well as with the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars (Richardson, 2008, p. 112). Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852), a famous British architect and designer, called this classical style “the new square style” (Figure 4.7, in Richardson, McKellar, Woods, 2008, p.123) and argued that it lacked authenticity of the Great Britain (Richardson, McKellar, Woods, 2008, p. 109). In attempting to establish what would convey the national, cultural and religious character of Great Britain, Pugin turned to Gothic - the style that existed in the country prior to the Protestant Reformation. He believed that a revival of Gothic style would be “a return of a much better past”, to re-establishment of Roman Catholic Church and a style that was truly indigenous to the Northern Europe (ibid). This essay will explore Pugin’s dissent from tradition through his ideas, inspiration, and his most important works and their meaning in the society.

Pugin did not dissent from the tradition in its most narrow meaning. He was not creating anything radically new. More interestingly, he did not even consider him self to be a dissenter (Richardson, McKellar, Woods, 2008, p. 131). He saw himself as a traditionalist trying to revive the lost but truly national style which had been overshadowed by the dissent of neo-classicists (ibid). However, for the purpose of this essay, Pugin will be considered as a dissenter in its broad meaning as he was bringing back the “new” gothic style, known as neo-gothic style. Additionally, he believed that there was a strong correlation between the environment and the society and how architecture in particular could affect social life of...
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