Augustus Pugin Versus Decimus Burton: A Victorian Architectural Duel - Guy WilliamsLondon: Cassell, 1990, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. A little age-toning to the edges of the text block.
Includes: Black & white photographs; Chronological tables (1);
From the cover: “Take two men — one of them poor, obsessed by his personal visions, used to dressing in rough seaman’s clothes, highly sexed, and as fierce and energetic as a gadfly; the other rich, cool, well-dressed, apparently celibate, the designer and prime member of the Athenaeum, one of London’s grandest gentlemens’ clubs. Put those two persons together, and an explosion of some kind could have been expected. Indeed, it could hardly have been avoided.
The gadfly in this fascinating story was the volatile Augustus Pugin the Younger — of French descent, and reputedly of noble birth. The careful bachelor who so enraged him was Decimus Burton, tenth child of the successful Scottish builder James Burton, who had done so much to alter and improve the face of London. One of those involved was a fervent Roman Catholic, the other a despised Protestant. One admired the Greeks, and classical architecture; the other hated all forms of art that were not Gothic, and therefore not Christian.
This book is a study of a destructive obsession. It is the story of a one-sided feud that caused a sensation in artistic and architectural circles in the nineteenth century and led to the struggle now known as ‘The Battle of the Styles’. It contrasts the austere classicist Decimus Burton, who like his father before him did so much to improve the appearance of London, and his brilliant but frenzied opponent Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, whose devotion to the Gothic style, learnt from his father, was absolute, and who was to die, insane, at only 40 years old. The smell of artistic gunpowder, overpowering then, still lingers in sensitive nostrils. In our own century of ‘monstrous carbuncles’ the current protagonists of the great architectural debate will find a number of invaluable lessons to be learned from this book.”