George Frederick Bodley and the Later Gothic Revival in Britain and America by Michael Hall - review by Peyton Skipwith

Peyton Skipwith

Lines of Beauty

George Frederick Bodley and the Later Gothic Revival in Britain and America


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George Frederick Bodley (1827–1907) was the finest and most consistent practitioner of High Victorian Gothic architecture, and as such he richly merits this scholarly, well-illustrated and beautifully produced monograph. As a nineteen-year-old he joined the highly productive offices – some would say factory – of that busy Goth, Sir George Gilbert Scott, and it was here that he met two other young architects setting out on the same path as himself, George Edmund Street and William White. Nineteenth-century Gothic had diverse strands, and there were many schisms between those like Ruskin, who championed 13th-century Venetian, and those like Bodley, who was an advocate of 14th-century English. However, as J D Sedding was to declare at the Liverpool Art Congress in 1888, ‘We should have had no Morris, no Street, no Burges, no Shaw, no Webb, no Bodley, no Rossetti, no Burne-Jones, no Crane, but for Pugin.’ Sedding, the architect of Holy Trinity Sloane Street, the church that John Betjeman described as the ‘Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts’, was right: Pugin was the founder of not only the Gothic Revival but also of the Arts and Crafts movement and, through Sedding’s inclusion of Rossetti and Burne-Jones in this litany of names, of the Aesthetic movement. 

Like Anglo-Catholicism, the Aesthetic movement was a reaction against Puritanism, a theological divide that separated both movements from the evangelical Ruskin. Michael Hall gives us a delightful vignette of a meeting between Bodley and the high priest of aestheticism, Oscar Wilde, in Florence in May 1894. They were introduced by

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