Academic Historicism


Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 11

Romanesque Revival, Richardsonian Romanesque

Concept: One of the main influential people of the time was German architect Heinrich Hubsch.  He claims that Romanesque is superior to Gothic, and declares that it’s simpler to construct and more economical than Gothic Revival.  The styles draw influences from spanish and southern french Romanesque, Norman, and Syrian Early Christian Sources, and some German as well.  Although Eclecticism is an inspiration, the designers and architects do more than copy motifs and forms of medieval buildings.  They absorb characteristics and personalize details of Romanesque.

Design Characteristics:  Both styles (as many others) look to the past for inspiration.  Expressions are largely limited to architecture and feature masonry walls, symmetry, columns, rounded arches, and towers.  For Romanesque revival additional characteristics include string-courses to define roof-lines, smooth walls, arched rounded door ways, and deep recessed doors.  For Richardsonian Romanesque buildings are rough faced with stone, have lintels, capitals, ornament, and different colored details.  Common motifs between the two styles are rounded arches, corbel tables, hood moldings, battlements, rose windows, flower capitals, chevrons, terra-cotta panels, and Syrian arches.


Richardsonian Romanesque-

Pillsbury Hall- University of MN; Minneapolis – Buffington and Ellis

James Hill House – St. Paul, Minnesota – Peabody and Stearns

Romanesque Revival:

smithsonian institution- James Renwick, Washington D.C.

westminster chapel – London, England – W.F. Poulton

Interiors:  Often had a medieval appearance created by architectural elements or ornament.  Round arches and squatty columns along with carved ornamentation and hooded fireplaces are common.  Popular colors include terra-cotta reds, greens, blues, golds, and browns.  Metals such as brass, iron, and copper are used in accessories and lighting fixtures.  Stone, marble, tiles, wall paper, wood paneling and embossed leather were common wall treatments.

Furniture and Decorative Arts:  Again, the medieval style corresponds with the architecture, and is reflected in the furniture.  Designs are eclectic in character.  Carving is the main form of decorating.


Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 12

Classical Eclecticism


Four Main Style Variations

1) Beaux-Arts

2) Neo-Renaissance

3) Chateauesque

4) Neoclassical Revival


Classical eclecticism rejected high Victorian picturesque irregularity and seeks to restore order, unity, and restraint to architecture and interiors.  The four main styles emulate past examples and display monumental planning while using contemporary materials.


Design Characteristics:

monumental scale

classical traditions

large ornamented buildings


Beaux Arts:  symmetry, five part facade, rustication, smooth upper stories, advancing and receding planes, columns, dramatic skylines

Neo Renaissance: Large in scale, rectangular block forms, rusticated lower stories, arched openings, quoining, flat and/or low pitched roofs

Chateauesque:  Vertical and picturesque, asymmetry, smooth stone walls, pointed arch openings, pinnacles

Neoclassical Revival:  rusticated basements, flat roofs, symmetry, greek order, columns and pilasters, limited ornament





Boston Public Library, MA – McKim, Mead, and White – Neo Renaissance

Low pitched hipped roof

Arched windows – creates rhythm

Granite Facade

String Course

Rectangular building

Symmetrical emphasis

Interiors:  Mainly follow two paths

1)Aesthetic Movement

2)Classical Eclecticism

Designers became more concerned with order, balance, rhythm, and proportions.  French and Italian Renaissance styles are common influences in interiors.  Colors include white, greens, blues, deep reds, and golds.  Gas lighting is common, but newly introduced electricity rapidly increases during this period.  Marble and terazzo floors are common.  Murals, wood paneling, and painted plaster are common wall treatments.

Main Stair Hall-The Breakers

Music Hall- The Breakers

Gilded Coffered Ceiling

modillioned cornice

large gasolier

corinthian pilasters

rounded arches


marble floor and oriental rugs




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