The Gothic Revival

The Gothic Revival

A survey of how the Gothic styles of the Middle Ages fascinated furniture designers and architects from the mid-18th century onwards. Landscape architects such as Sanderson Miller and Batty Langley cultivated a romantic feeling for mediaeval ruins with their garden structures which together with the antiquarian experiments by Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill, set a fashion for the style as early as the 1750’s.

A domesticated form of Gothic decoration sometimes became an optional garnish to standard furniture forms as the century progressed, much as with chinoiserie or Roman classicism.

With A.W.N. Pugin in the first half of the 19th century, the structural honesty of furniture design became more important which paved the way for an astonishing period of revivalism ultimately becoming the national style. William Burges was one of the outstanding designers working in this manner, who had the enviable patronage of the antiquarian Marquess of Bute, which left behind the two Welsh fantasy palaces of Castell Coch and the modified Cardiff Castle.

A more purist attitude was to emerge with William Morris’s championing of handiwork and the mediaevalist-inspired Arts and Crafts movement. Together with Greco-Roman classicism, gothic design has never gone completely out of fashion in the decorative arts and architecture for the modern collector and designer.

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