Simpson, Duncan (1973) Art and religion in the work of A. W. N. Pugin: a study with special reference to Pugin's literary achievement. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.


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In a General Introduction which forms the first chapter, the provenance of the ideas propagated by Pugin in his work, and of the European Gothic Revival movement in more general terms, is examined. The exchange of ideas between Pugin and his colleagues, and representatives of romantic and archaeological medievalism in Europe, particularly France and Germany, is detailed. Also early contacts with the Anglo-Catholic body at Oxford, largely through the mediation of A.L.Phillipps. Literary components of the Catholic and medievalist cause, which influenced events in the years immediately before Pugin became influential, are named. The Introduction ends with an outline of the form and argument of the thesis.
The second chapter, The Relationship Between Pugin and the Catholic Establishment over the Early Years, 1834-1841 covers Pugin's acquirement of scholarship and architectural facility in the years prior to his conversion to Catholicism; three early MS works and an early correspondence are cited. Two early groups of buildings, Mount St.Bernard and St.John's Hospital, form the basis for a discussion of the nature of Pugin's early commitment and work under Catholic patronage. The publications of these years, notably the famous Contrasts (1836, 1st. edition), are shown to demonstrate Pugin's state of mind and thought at this time. Finally, the events of the Catholic revival at this period, and Pugin's role in it, are outlined. In chronological sequence, this process of exposition is continued in the third chapter, Pugin in His Prime - His Contribution to the Catholic Revival from 1841-1846. Not intended as a complete account of Pugin's prolific work output in these years,the chapter deals with the increasing importance of Pugin's commissions, but also with the growth of tension between Pugin and the Catholic establishment, initially over such local matters as the screen of St.Chad's. The limitations of the role of the architect in church-building are discussed. The point is made, that Pugin was in many ways a European, rather than an English, architect.
The Artistic Progression in Pugin's Work, 1835-1852, steps outside the chronological progression so far observed, to consider as a whole the important question of Pugin's artistic development. Major issues here are the element of change,and the extent to which change took place in Pugin's views; the use he made of craftsmanship and art-manufacture in the furthering of the Gothic Revival movement; the relationship established between artistic and religious issues. Pugin's key theoretical work from his early years, the True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841),forms the starting point for discussion. From the latter years of Pugin's life, a significant correspondence with J.D. Crace is introduced, which demonstrates the evolution of a new, modified attitude to large areas of his art which Pugin was developing up to the time of his death.
Chapter five again steps outside the chronological sequence to discuss another central theme; this time it is Pugin's use of his historical studies. The chapter is entitled, Historicism - the Contribution made by Pugin's Theory of History to his Work, 183O-1852. Pugin's knowledge of the medieval period and the events of the English Reformation was extensive, coming from primary sources and wide reading. It is demonstrated how, all through his life, his expression of historical theory throws light on his other fields of interest in a valuable way as well as having intrinsic merit and interest. The notion of Pugin as an historian is one which has not previously been adequately noticed by critics; this chapter seeks to remedy this deficiency and treat Pugin's scholastic work with its due high regard.
In chapter six, The Role Of the Periodical in the Expression of Puginism, the chronological survey of the earlier chapters is brought up to the late eighteen-forties. This, however, is achieved by reference to such contemporary evidence as is provided by periodical publications, principally the Ecclesiologist and the Rambler. The way in which Puginism came to be disregarded by 1850, is told through examination of the former; the growth of specific and deep antagonisms and differences between Pugin and a large portion of the Catholic establishment, through the latter. Various other issues, as raised by the content of the periodicals, are also discussed in the course of the chapter.
With the trend of events in the artistic, literary and religious fields having been clearly outlined from 1830 up to the late forties, chapter seven seeks to draw the various threads together, under the title, Pugin's Unfinished Work - Including an Account of an Unpublished manuscript. The major content of the chapter revolves around two related works, Pugin's Earnest Address on the Establishment of the Hierarchy (1851),and the unpublished MS referred to above. His disfavour with the Catholic establishment is now clear, and reflected particularly in the historical content of these two works. The artistic advances of these years, pointing as they do to future developments in the art and design world, provide a counterbalance to the rather pessimistic religious outlook.
Chapter eight has the title, Literary Qualities and the Sense of the Dramatic in Pugin's Writings - An Essential Addendum. It attempts to fill a considerable gap in Pugin criticism, by paying close attention to the mechanics and the nature of his literary achievement. This chapter constitutes the first sustained critical attempt to analyse Pugin's prose, in its different aspects of didaotioism, satire, emotive appeal and propaganda, and to assess his abilities as an author. Two short stories included by Pugin in larger works (the first in a lecture published in 1838, the second in his Treatise on Chancel Screens and Rood Lofts, 1851), and two critiques which appeared in his Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture in England (1843), are among the topics dealt with in detail.
The Conclusion which follows summarises the scope and the content of the thesis, and makes necessary comments on the nature and extent of Pugin's achievement, his importance in his time, and his influence on the rest of the nineteenth-century. This influence is felt to be most profound in the fields of architecture and design, but since the importance of his religious beliefs as a formative influence in all his work was so great (and
this includes the important literary field), it is felt that a full understanding of the religious commitment is a sine qua non to the Pugin critic.
In a short Appendix, the unpublished MS referred to in chapter seven is more fully detailed. A series of Illustrations, relating to early, unpublished MS designs by Pugin of relevance to the case made in chapter two, are added at the end of the thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 15:05
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2019 15:05

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