Study Aid 8: The 19th Century--Eclecticism and Industry

Although the Classical vocabulary dominated European and American architecture during the first half of the 19th century, its hegemony gave way to a taste for eclectic revival designs that had first been popularized by the Picturesque movement beginning in the 18th century. Much of this eclecticism has been interpreted as the architects' search for a distinctive architectural language for their age--something that would express the spirit of the times of Zeitgeist. Of even greater significance to the architectural character of the century were the tremendous technological and social changes that gave birth to modern life. The Industrial Revolution provided new materials for the exploitation of designers (e.g. mass-produced cast iron, wrought iron, steel, terra cotta and plate glass), demanded new building types (e.g. the train station, hotels, prisons), and led to the mass-migration of agricultural workers to exploding urban centers. In turn, these cities attempted (often vainly) to cope with the poverty and disease wrought by the new social configurations. The practice of architecture also became professionalized during the 19th century with the development of architectural schools (e.g. The Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, founded 1819; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 1867; and professional organizations and licensing).

The architecture of the elegant Second Empire is epitomized by Visconti's and Lefuel's expansion of the Louvre in Paris (1851-57), and Charles Garnier's, Paris Opera, built between 1862-75. Perhaps the most poetic use of iron in the 19th century was Gustave Eiffel's Eiffel Tower, Paris 1884-1889, with Sauvestre, Koechlin & Nouguiere architects. A concern with the expression of new technology was also seen in the Gare du Nord, Paris, 1861-65, Jacques-Ignace Hittorff, architect; and the Bibliotheque Ste-GeneviƩve, Paris, 1838-50; and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris 1859; both by Henri Labrouste. Eugene Viollet-le-Duc was renowned for his restorations of medieval buildings and he eventually became an advocate for modern structural rationalism following his experiences with Gothic Buildings. Viollet-le-Duc's imaginative designs in iron were attempts to create a new architectural language for metal (illustrated in his "Entretiens sur l'architecture," 1856-72).

Great Britain
The application of Gothic and other revival styles (including exotic ones) to a variety of useful buildings was very popular in 19th century Great Britain, e.g.: Blaise Hamlet, near Bristol, 1811, John Nash architect; Royal Pavilion, Brighton, 1815-21, (Nash arch.); Houses of Parliament, London, 1840-1870; Charles Barry and A.W.N. Pugin architects. Augustus W.N. Pugin's, Contrasts... (1836) was one of the most influential and moralistic architectural treatises of the century. Pugin rejected eclecticism in favor archaeologically "correct" Gothic revival designs that he felt best embodied virtuous Christian societies. John Ruskin later continued and elaborated Pugin's themes in his own influential writings including the "Stones of Venice" (1851) and the "Seven Lamps of Architecture" (1848). Joseph Paxton's revolutionary Crystal Palace, 1851, demonstrated the potential of mass-produced, prefabricated iron and glass construction. St. Pancras Station, (London, 1868, Sir George Gilbert Scott architect, Ordish and Barlow engineers) demonstrates the uneasy but common compromise between revivalist designs and modern technology.

United States
America adopted many of the popular revival styles of Europe (e.g. the Second Empire style Philadelphia City Hall, 1871-1901, John McArthur, Jr. architect). However, some of the most talented architects of the period developed these forms in a highly original manner, e.g. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1871-76, Frank Furness architect. America was also in the forefront of the development of several new buildings types including: hotels, prisons and skyscrapers, e.g.: Tremont House Hotel, 1828, Boston, MA Isaiah Rogers architect; Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA 1823-, John Haviland architect. One of the most impressive engineering achievements of the century was the Brooklyn Bridge, NYC, designed and erected by John and Washington Roebling from 1869-83.

Paris Opera

Date: 1862-75
Location: Paris, France
Architect: Charles Garnier

Front Elevation

Section View - Grand Stairhall

Interior View - Foyer



Side Elevation: Emperor's Entrance

Rear Elevation

Interior - Performance Hall

Interior - Grand Stair Hall

Painting - Grand Stair Hall

Eiffel Tower

Date: 1884-1889 AD
Location: Paris, France
Architect: Gustav Eiffel

1889 Exposition Featuring the Eiffel Tower

Early Conceptual Sketch (1884) by Koechlin and Nouguiere

Bibliotheque Ste-GeneviƩve

Date: 1838-1850
Location: Paris, France
Architect: Henri Labrouste


Exterior View

Exterior View

Interior View of Reading Room

Plaque of Notable Names

Royal Pavilion

Date: 1815-21
Location: Brighton
Architect: John Nash
Patron: Prince Regent (George IV)


19th Century Painting of Exterior

Exterior - Detail of Iron Domes

Interior View - Banqueting Room

Interior View - Banqueting Room

Interior View - Kitchen

Houses of Parliament

Date: 1840-1870 AD
Location: London, England
Architect: Charles Barry and A. W. N. Pugin

Aerial View

Aerial View



Interior - House of Lords

Interior - Hallway


Date: 1836
Location: London, England
Architect: A. W. N. Pugin


Scales of Truth Contrasting the Architecture of the 15th and 19th Centuries

Contrasting Churches

Constrasting Medieval and Modern Poorhouses

Contrasting Medieval and Modern Cities

Crystal Palace

Date: 1850-51
Location: London, England
Architect: Joseph Paxton

Birds-Eye View

19th-Century Printed Image

View Depicting Construction

"Glazing Wagon" - Used During Construction

Interior View During the Exposition

Interior View Depicting Canadian Exhibits

St. Pancras Station

Date: 1863-76
Location: London, England
Architect: George Gilbert Scott
Engineers: Ordish & Barlow

Drawing of the Train Shed Under Construction
Circa 1865

Painting by John O'Connor
Circa 1884

Exterior View

Exterior View

Detail of Exterior

Rear Elevation

Train Station

Interior View - Staircase

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Date: 1871-76
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Architects: Frank Furness & George Hewitt

Elevation Drawing by Furness

Section Drawings

Broad Street Elevation

Cherry Street Elevation

Exterior - Detail of North Elevation

Interior View - Stair Hall

Interior View - Cast Iron Columns in the Gallery

Interior - Stair Hall

Interior - Details in Stair Hall