Art Styles in the Industrial 19th Century


The European Influence


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)


The artistic styles that evolved in 18th- and 19th-century Europe were widely
imitated and adapted in the colonies and the new independent states.
Though the colonial architecture varied according to its locality, a
particularly original style developed in America, one that was
destined to flourish and make an impact internationally.



In the earliest periods of the exploration and settlement of the New World, the colonists adopted certain elements of European culture that were later to become salient features in American art and architecture. In Massachusetts, the first English colonists built country villages and small towns modelled on the rural communities of southeast England, with the church or meeting-house as the social and spiritual heart. The earliest colonists, who were for the most part businessmen, traders, and farmers, reached the American continent during the 17th century. The number of colonists rose substantially throughout the 18th century, and they founded an increasing number of colonial villages and towns. Their clapboard houses were two or three storeys high, with steeply pitched roofs. Spacious living areas on the ground floor were arranged around a large central fireplace, which also served to heat the rooms on the upper floors. Spanish colonists established a number of settlements in the central regions of America in the mid-16tl century during the reign of Philip II, including San Antonio, Santa Fe, and the coastal zones of California and Florida. Architectural and ornamental structures were clearly modelled on the Spanish Baroque. Building types included fortifications, churches, and houses, which had thick stone walls broken by small openings and long balconies supported by wooden structures. The building methods employed and the recurrent stylistic elements, such as expansive white surfaces and decoratively painted supporting beams, were widely used until the 19th century. They also had many features associated with the traditions of the Native Americans of the Southwest.


Samuel Mclntire (1757-1811), drawing room,
Gardner-White-Pingree House, Salem, Massachusetts, 1804.

 A typical interior in the English taste.


Francisco Araujo,
facade of Our Lady of the Rosary, Ouro Preto, Brazil, 18th century.

Diego de Aguirre, facade of St Augustine, Lima, Peru.



Juan Correa, screen depicting liberal arts, 17th century, Franz Maier Foundation, Mexico City



Mary Cassatt
At the Opera
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

This painting illustrates the theatres main social function in the cities of America and Europe - to see and be seen.


In the 19th century, theatre design elaborated on the conventions that had been established during the Baroque era. New features to the basic-layout included a horseshoe plan and a different arrangement of the stage, stalls, and galleries. The theatre was more than a performance space for opera, plays, and other forms of dramatic representation. It was also a focal point for fashionable society and reflected the most current styles and tastes. Through their varying dramatic interpretations, theatre productions mirrored cultural trends and captured social moods and changes. The advent of German romantic opera, following in the wake of a theme chiefly found in the first half of the century, reveals the term "romantic" to be descriptive of the quest for an all encompassing cultural vision. The famous Festspielhaus (1876), founded by the composer Richard Wagner ( 1813-83) in Bavreuth, Germany, introduced a series of innovations on both a narrative and a decorative level — two aspects that were inherently interlinked. Galleries and balconies were eliminated in favour of large, fan-shaped stalls, once it was realized that the audience was most comfortable when it had a lateral view of the stage. The orchestra was hidden between the stalls and the stage, and the part of the theatre occupied by the audience was left in darkness for the duration of the performance. With the invention of electric lighting, actors and singers could now be illuminated in a manner that gave a sense of depth, created shadows, and highlighted the backdrop. In the 19th and 20th centuries, theatres were built throughout America and Australia based on the European models. The dramatic trend of Realism once more brought about a revision in the way performances were presented. The attention paid to the accuracy of even- detail, historical reconstruction, costume, sets, backdrops, and lighting meant that in the future no single aspect of theatrical production would be judged to be peripheral again.

Cross section of the Opera de Paris (1860-74).
Renaissance features enhance the Neo-Baroque flavour of this
building by Charles Gamier (1825-98).

The vast, magnificent interior and the use of opulent materials reflect the officially
sanctioned style of Napoleon Ill's Second Republic.



Central Synagogue, Manhattan, New York, 1872.

American cities are studded with buildings that appear almost foreign to their modern urban surroundings, having survived constant changes and additions. Synagogues are among the best-preserved and interesting monuments from the 19th century; they exhibit a variety of styles from Moorish to Neo-Romanesque.

Architecture in America

During the 18th century, the French colonization of the Mississippi and the Great Lakes had a particular architectural impact on these regions. The buildings, often pavilion-style structures, typically featured a wide balcony surmounted by a sloping, hipped roof. In New Orleans, an entire quarter was built on this model. The French colonial style, as displayed in residential and communal buildings, differed from other forms of architecture exported from Europe in that it took into account the environmental and climatic factors of North America, especially the oppressive humidity of the Mississippi basin. Examples include the building system known as briquette entre poteaux. This method entailed the use of wood, walls made of stone and stucco, and very large windows, which transformed the living area into a veranda during the day. The German colonial style, which dates from the landing of William Penn in 1680 and continued into the next century, was quite different. The use of stone in the many villages in Pennsylvania and western Maryland drew on European medieval architecture, while in some regions of New Jersey and in New York there are fine examples of buildings based on traditional Dutch styles. These incorporated construction elements such as multiple-hipped roofs of varying inclination, dormer windows, and stable-type doors. Though the various strands of colonial styles differed noticeably, certain factors bound them all together: these included the variable climactic conditions, the availability of local materials, and the skill of the local craftsmen. On these factors rested the durability of their architecture.




In his novel America, Franz Kafka (1883-1924) gave a detailed description of the "American desk", a piece of furniture with a special mechanism for regulating the arrangement of compartments, which was very popular in America. The hero, Karl, finds one in his room while he is staying with his uncle in New York: "In his room stood an American writing desk of superior construction, such as his father had coveted for years and tried to pick up cheaply at ail kinds of auction sales without ever succeeding, his resources being much too small. This desk, of course, was beyond all comparison with the so-called American writing desk that turned up at auction sales in Europe. For example, it had a hundred compartments of different sizes, in which the President of the Union himself could have found a fitting place for each of his state documents; there was also a regulator at one side, and by turning the handle you could produce the most complicated combination and permutations of the compartments to please yourself and suit your requirements. Thin panels sank slowly and formed the bottom of a new series or the top of existing drawers promoted from below; even after one turn of the handle the disposition of the whole was quite changed and the transformation took place slowly or at a delirious speed."




Latin American Architecture

The early 19th century saw the independence of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Latin America - Mexico in 1821, Brazil in 1822, and Peru in 1823. This brought about new political orders and debates about national identity but had no immediate impact on architectural production. As the century progressed, however, the introduction of the Neoclassical style through the academies began to replace overtly Iberian influences and transform the physical appearance of the Latin American colonial cities. Changes in thinking brought about by the Enlightenment, the growing cultural influence of France, and the desire to break away from retrospective Hispanic culture all had an effect taking various forms in different areas of the subcontinent. The architecture was often the work of immigrant European architects. The English architect John Johnson worked on the country house of Sao Cristavao as early as 1812. Frenchmen A.J.V. Grandjean de Montigny (1776-1850) and C. F. Brunet-Debaines (1799-1855) built in Brazil and Chile respectively. In Argentina, there was a strong German influence, evident in the work of Ernesto Bunge. Theatres were important architectural projects, ranging from the sober Teatro Santa Isabel, Recife (1840-46) to the plaster-gilded Teatro Amazonas, Manaos. Europeans continued to undertake important projects into the 20th century, as seen in the work of the Italian Adamo Boari (1863-1928) in Mexico. However, the predominance of Neoclassical styles and foreign architects was soon challenged in the form of a more self-conscious neocolonialism, initiated by Jose Mariano Carniero da Cuna and Ricardo Severo in Brazil. Rooted in nationalist ideologies, its intention was to challenge the dominance of European culture. By the end of the 19th century, new materials began to have an impact. In the south, iron market structures were built by Miguel Aldunate. including the Santiago Market (1868-72) and the Meat Market in Buenos Aires (1889). In Mexico City, the particular trade relations with Europe maintained by Latin America are evident in the anonymously designed iron structure of the Del Chopo Museum. Materials local to individual Latin American countries began to take on significance, as illustrated by the use of traditional tiles by Alejandro Manriques in the Bavarian Beer Factory, Bogota (1888).


Presidential Palace, Buenos Aires, 1894.

Like many contemporary palaces in Latin America, this imposing monument is reminiscent
of the European Renaissance style of architecture.





American Classicism

One of the most influential figures in American architecture was the third president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). Scholarly in his approach. Jefferson sought to develop an architecture that expressed the republican ideals of the new nation. By adopting a Palladian style for the designs of his own house Monticello (1769-70), near Charlottesville, Virginia, he rejected the English colonial style of the Virginia tidewater. After the War of Independence (1775-83), he found in Roman architecture the style and principles that he had been seeking. He discovered ancient Roman architecture in France, where he was a foreign minister between 1784 and 1789, in both the ruins of Provence and through his links with the Neoclassicist academic circles. His design for the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia (1785) was one of the first instances of the front of a classical temple being applied to monumental buildings, and it provided a vocabulary for an architecture of democracy worldwide. The beginning of the 19th century saw the ascendancy of two parallel architectural trends: the so-called Adam, or Federal, style and the Greek Revival style. The former derives its name from the period between 1789 and about 1830 when the United States Federal government was formed. Though it was rooted mostly in British Neoclassicism, a French influence can be discerned, which reflected the pro-French sentiment following the Revolution. It attracted architects such as Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844). Samuel Mclntire (1757-1811), and William Thornton (1759-1828). The Greek Revival style reached the peak of its popularity in about 1820 following important archaeological discoveries in Europe (the excavations of the Parthenon in Athens began in 1804) and the fashion for all aspects of ancient Greek art and architecture. Bulfinch's design for the third house of Harrison Gray Otis in Boston (1806) exemplifies the Federal style house in its harmonies, composition, and layout, wherein a series of rooms of various shapes - circular, oval, and polygonal - enclose rectangular areas of different sizes. The first building in the US inspired by Greek architecture was the Bank of Pennsylvania built in 1801. Its architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), was the main exponent of the Greek Revival. Two of his pupils, Robert Mills (1785-1855) and William Strickland (1788-1854). designed many public and private buildings, which were also based on the orders and canons of Greek art and architecture. These include the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia (1824) and the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. (1842). According to practical, functional needs, these types of building did not necessarily adhere rigorously to the strict rules of symmetry and proportion laid down by the classical orders. However, they were frequently impressive in size and style. A very different historicist impulse emerged in about 1825 in the guise of the Gothic Revival. It was initially inspired by late 18th-century English Gothic architecture. In the late 19th century, interest in it was reawakened by the writings of the English art critic and social reformer John Ruskin (1819-1900), particularly Stones of Venice (1851-53). The work of Alexander Jackson Davis and Richard Upjohn bears this influence. Examples of early English and French architecture were adopted as models, as were Italian Renaissance villas and palazzi at a later period. This resulted in the radical eclecticism of the late 19th century. Perhaps its greatest exponent was Richard Morris Hunt (1827-95), whose "Breakers" mansion, built for the Vanderbilt family in Newport (1892-95), was an extravagant Italian Renaissance palace. His other mansions, built for the wealthy of Rhode Island and New York, illustrate his ability to master a whole range of historical styles.


Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1772-79.



Colonial house, Paddlngton, Sydney.

The style of this building, with Its distinct Neoclassical features reveals a great
attention to exterior decoration. A range of ornate elements and details embellish its facade.







The construction of a statue of liberty in New York was originally the idea of a French historian, Edouard de Laboulaye, who had a keen interest in American politics and institutions. He proposed that money should be raised by public subscription so that France could send a monument to America to commemorate the close links between the two countries during and after the American Revolution. Consequently, a Franco-American committee was set up to raise the money and to oversee the construction work. The French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) designed the colossal statue, which was to stand at the entrance to New York harbour. He decided to place the statue on the 12-acre Bedloe Island, where the enormous female figure, right hand raised and bearing a torch, would serve as a lighthouse. He enlisted the help of the engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), who created a steel framework on which the copper figure was modelled. The statue was transported across the Atlantic in 214 cases and reached New York in June 1886. Meanwhile, Richard Morris Hunt (1827-95) made the pedestal on which the statue was to stand. The completed monument was officially inaugurated on 28 October 1886 by President Grover Cleveland. It has since come to symbolize not only the US itself, but also democratic freedom throughout the world.


Statue of Liberty, print, 1884 Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.






Washington and New York

In 1785, legislation was passed that brought about Land Ordinance. The regulation of the sale of land suitable for both agriculture and construction had become more and more essential with the growth of large cities. This survey was based on a system of coordinates, in which the land was divided into sections according to longitude and latitude. As a result, the development of all large cities in the US and even the boundaries between the different states was determined by the grid plan.
The plan for the city of Washington, D.C. was drawn up by Pierre L'Enfant in 1791, and that for New York was completed in 1811. Such blueprints had to take into account the rapid increase in the number of buildings within their respective metropolitan areas and the need to establish an urban road network that would provide adequate communications between public buildings and service areas. L'Enfant's designs for Washington stipulated a series of radial thoroughfares that were to be superimposed on the existing rectangular grid. New avenues and streets were designed to cross the city, linking opposite parts of the metropolis by way of wide thoroughfares. The plan for New York, drawn up by a special committee, was broadly based on the traditional grid system, with the avenues and streets being numbered over an area of approximately 100 square kilometres (60 square miles). This took into account the potential development of the city over the ensuing decades. The question of urban expansion was closely analysed so that eventual growth could be carefully controlled in accordance with the original plan.


William Thornton and Charles Bulfinch.
The Capitol in Washington. D.C., 1827.

The Neoclassical style adopted in the Federal capital was used
for government buildings in many state capitals.




Brooklyn Bridge during its construction. Photograph by John Augustus and Washington Roebling.
Museum of the City of New York.


One of New York City's most prominent and famous landmarks, Brooklyn Bridge was an archetype of modern American bridge construction. It stands 40 metres (128 feet) high, has a span of 486 metres (1,595 feet), and links the southern part of Manhattan Island to the borough (previously the city) of Brooklyn.
The firm of John Augustus Roebling (1806-69), a Germanborn American engineer, drew up the plans for the bridge in 1867, and the work was completed by his son, Washington Roebling, for its grand opening in 1883. The most striking innovation was the use of twisted metal cables, a technique Roebling had employed in 1842 for an aqueduct over the Allegheny river in Pittsburgh. Roebling, one of the country's most important bridge builders, was also responsible for the Niagara Railway Bridge (1851-55) and the great bridge over the Ohio River at Wheeling, West Virginia (1856-57), which played an important part in the subsequent development of the suspension bridge.

Currier and Ives New York and Brooklyn, 1875,
Museum of the City of New York.

This commemorative print was produced to celebrate the opening of the new bridge.




18th-century cabinet. Private
Collection, Philadelphia.

This particular model was widely copied.

Chicago: Cradle of American Architecture

Founded in the early 19th century on the site of an American military post on the shore of Lake Michigan, the city of Chicago testifies, perhaps more than any other city on the continent, to the rapid growth of the 19th-century American city. Chicago was particularly notable for its use of wood in building. George Washington Snow (1797-1878) had introduced a technique called the "balloon frame", already in use on the East Coast, in which planks of wood were joined with nails in standardized, commercially available lengths of timber. The modular wooden framework was then covered and erected singularly or joined with others. It was flexible enough a method to provide a solution for a number of construction problems. The first building in which the balloon-frame principle was used was Chicago's St Mary's church, in which building costs were cut by more than 40 per cent.
Unfortunately, because wood was so cheap and widely used in Chicago, the Great Fire of 1871 destroyed almost one-third of the city's buildings. The history of Chicago was dramatically affected by this event. Work carried out during the following years involved many architects and engineers, who were faced with several problems specific to the city; they needed to reconstruct buildings quickly and in harmony with the existing surroundings, while also guaranteeing that the structures would be safe and reliable in the future. The important consequence of these demands was the development of the fireproof steel frame. Between 1870 and 1880, William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907), who had been educated at the Ecole des Arts et Manufactures in Paris, developed an unprecedented style of construction that made the most profitable use of available land in the city centre by building vertically rather than horizontally. The result of his research was the prototype of the modern skyscraper and indeed the modern office building. Jenney not only explored the technical problems, one of which would be resolved by adopting steel as a building material, but also considered the unique visual perspective of the high-rise block. He paid attention, for example, to the shapes and textures of the facades. In 1879. his firm put up the first of the two Leiter Buildings (today on 208 West Monroe Street), with a composite supporting framework of brick pillars on the outside and steel columns on the inside. This system of construction was further perfected in the Home Insurance Building (1885). Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912), one of the finest architects and engineers commissioned with American urban rebuilding, worked initially with Jenney and then collaborated with John Wellborn Root (1850-91). Their technique employed, at least during its first phase, already well-established materials and techniques, but they later went on to explore unprecedented ways of designing and handling the large external areas of commercial buildings. This form of architecture was applied to offices, government and business buildings, and department stores. Chicago's 16-storey Monadnock Building (1889-92), designed by Burnham and Root, is unusual in having no ornamental features and in its use of bow windows at the top. William Holabird (1854-1923) and Martin Roche (1855-1927), pupils of Jenney, used a different approach for the lace of their Tacoma Building (1889) - as the edifice rises, the decorative features of the string courses (horizontal, projecting bands, often caned or decorated) gradually disappear, returning again higher up before being rounded off at the top by a small arcade of arches and columns. Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) and his partner Dankmar Adler (1844-1900) were two of the leading architects involved in the design of tall commercial buildings. Over 12 years, they put up a number of buildings in which considerations of style and technique were successfully combined and new forms of decoration were used. Sullivan and Adler were influenced by the classicism of H.H. Richardson (1838-86), and they adopted the version of the Neo-Romanesque style that Richardson had applied to Chicago's Marshall Field Wholesale Store (1885-87). For this building, he envisaged a stone facade broken by round arches. For the Chicago Auditorium (1887-89), a huge project comprising a modern theatre, a large hotel, and 11 floors of offices, Sullivan used different materials and original decorative touches in rustic stone for the first three storeys and a smooth dressing of sandstone higher up. The auditorium was a truly fine example of Sullivan's architectonic artistic skills. His work here and in other cities (New York, Buffalo, and St Louis) had a strong influence on later architects, not least for his concern in the harmonization of structural and decorative features in the overall design of a building. In 1893, Chicago's World's Columbian Exhibition proved a setback for architecture in the city. Sullivan's ideas for exhibition buildings were rejected in favour of the more conventional grandiose Roman Renaissance style. It was not until the emergence of the brilliant young architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959) a generation later that Chicago recovered.


Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, Guaranty Building, Buffalo City, New York, 1895.



Louis Comfort Tiffany, lamp "Aux Pavots",
with bronze and glazed metal frame.
Produced post-1900 by Tiffany Studios in New York.
 Tiffany lamps are still produced today.


Glassmaker, jeweller, painter, designer, and decorator, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) is associated with one of the most original forms of craftsmanship of the late 19th century. Having already undertaken such prestigious commissions as decorating the Red and Blue rooms in the White House (1882-83). Tiffany began to specialize in glassware. Through his experimentation with special laboratory techniques using chemical baths and steam, he produced glittering glass surfaces in iridescent colours, with opaque and burnished nuances. The Tiffany Glass Company was founded in 1885 and became renowned for the production of naturalistic objects in the colourful and elegant Favrile (patented in 1894), the handmade glass that was the designer's trademark.
The subtle effect of transparency and the delicate play of colours could be reproduced on virtually any decorative household object, including the classic Tiffany lampshade. Imaginatively shaped vases, bowls, and cups were decorated with flower motifs or abstract, flowing lines, and the colour of the glass, whether clear, pearly, opaque, or combined with metals, seemed to vary according to the light. In the 1890s, Tiffany branched out into Europe, taking part in the exhibitions of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris and then in the Exposition Universelle of 1900.


Louis Comfort Tiffany. Peacock Mosaic, 1890-91.

The peacock, perhaps because of its decorative potential, was a favourite motif of the Art Nouveau.
This panel was made for the house of Henry Osborne Havemeyer in New York.



Daniel Hudson Burnham and John Wellborn Root,
Reliance Building, Chicago, 1890-95.


After the devastating fire of 1871 destroyed a vast area of Chicago, the most urgent priority in rebuilding the city was to experiment with materials other than wood - it was vital that they should offer greater resistance to fire. William Le Baron Jenney used iron and steel to construct load-bearing frameworks for his new buildings. This innovation, which made it possible to build multistorey blocks, could not have been considered without the introduction of the lift in 1857. The first steam elevators, invented by Elisha Graves Otis, were replaced in 1870 by C.W. Baldwin's hydraulically operated system and then by an electrical system in 1887. These early blocks still employed historical styles: Jenney built the two Leiter Buildings (1879 and 1890) and the Home Insurance Building (1885) for the Chicago Loop, using metal frames and glass surfaces alternated with pilaster strips with classical capitals. The Tacoma Building (1887-88) by Holabird and Roche and the Reliance Building (1890-95) by Burnham and Root are similar examples.
Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) was the first truly modern architect. Lie produced high-rise buildings with forms that directly expressed their function. He devised a new plan for the skyscraper based on three essential components: a spacious ground-floor entrance lobby, a top floor that would act as a service area for the whole building, and multiple storeys in between the two. This revolutionary concept was realized in such projects as the Wainwright Building in St Louis (1891), the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, which he built with Dankmar Adler (1895), and the Schlesinger & Mayer Building (1899-1904) in Chicago. These were all remarkable constructions considering the problems posed by the limited availabilitv of materials.


William Holabird and Martin Roche, Taccma Building, Chicago, 1887-89.



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