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Architecture Saturday Part 5: Neoclassical

Sometime in the 18th century, architects reacted against the Rococo (previous blog post) and turned towards the classic Greek and Roman styles with a touch of Renaissance (Andrea Palladio).

Andrea Palladio is the most influential architect ever, with an architects fanclub started long after his death called “The Palladians.”

Actually, one could say that the official architecture style of the United States is “Andrea Palladio”. Thomas Jefferson got a crush on it when he was an ambassador in France. Snobs call it “Classicism.”

Here’s Palladio’s “Villa Rotunda”:

Here’s Jefferson’s home (Monticello) near Charlottesville, VA, which he architected:

Jefferson also designed University of Virginia’s Library after the Roman Pantheon:

Hell, even the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and the Capitol were greatly influenced by Andrea Palladio (not to mention every upscale neighborhood).

Neoclassical also made some advances in garden design, from the stodgy, perfect-looking Versailles garden, to the English Garden designed by Charles Bridgeman:

Bridgeman invented the “ha-ha” which, besides being the coolest Architectural term ever, serves as a trench that you do not notice from a distance, but that keeps neighbors’ animals from wandering in your really expensive garden:

The Neoclassical era was also a time of Napoleonic grandeur and aspirations of taking over the world. No wonder Etienne Louis Boulle designed this thing:

St. Pancras in London even made caryatids as columns coppying the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens:

Of course, no one really knows what purpose these maidens served in the original architecture. But they look cool.

The Germans stepped up their game during the Neoclassical period by building things such as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, built originally as a sign of peace, but came in handy during Berlin’s devided political struggles:

Karl Friedrich Shinkel designed the gate and many other museums in Berlin that look like the Parthenon.

Perhaps the most innovation in the Neoclassical period came from Russia, where Catherine the Great began the Hermitage as her personal art collection:

Despite “hosting” Napoleon in Moscow for a little while, the Russian elite spoke French and their imperial architecture was greatly influenced by the French gentleness:


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