Here, reprinted in Architectural Review, is a long essay of architecture criticism of a sort that we never see anymore – detailed critique of a set of buildings by a famous architect, in this case Edwin Lutyens. The essay, “New Dehli: The individual buildings,” is by Robert Byron and was originally published in January 1931. Click the link to the piece then click on one of the solitary illustrations below (not the one on top or its set of slides) to enlarge the pages. Bump it up to about 300 percent. Most of the piece demonstrates the old adage that “Dry need not be dull.” (Is it an old adage? It may be a brand new one.) I am posting a brief excerpt, indeed an exception to that adage – a flash of well-modulated anger that I stumbled upon – even before I read the entire piece:
The detail of the dome has already been examined. The hemisphere (without its base mould), and the patterned white drum beneath, derive their shape from the Buddhist stupas of Sanchi. The turrets, in essence, derive from the European Middle Ages. Their caps derive from the Moguls; and likewise the form, though not the course, of the all-round chitjja. The remaining elements seem to lack historic precedent. But in reality, as they stand here, none of them has any precedent whatever. Amidst all the cacophony of standardized allusion and whining reminiscence which the present age calls art, Lutyens’s dome strikes a clear note of true aesthetic invention. To have seen it is to carry for ever a new enjoyment, and to add one more to those little separate flames of pleasure whose treasured aggregate alone gives purpose to existence.
A major tip of the hat to Richard Cameron, who placed this excellent material before my eyes.
Elegant, romantic language. Alas we have become such clumsy shy wordsmiths.
Roman and Williams
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