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E. W. Godwin’s Month in Normandy: Travel Writing as Intertext

Le séjour d’E. W. Godwin en Normandie : l’écriture de voyage comme intertexte
Richard W. Hayes

Résumés

En 1873, l’architecte E. W. Godwin (1833-1886) entreprit un voyage d’un mois à travers la Normandie, accompagné de l’actrice Ellen Terry (1847-1928), et de leur fille Edy. Un an plus tard, Godwin publia une série d’articles sur cette excursion dans un périodique d’architecture victorienne, The Building News. Intitulé « Quelques notes d’un mois en Normandie », ces articles relatent les voyages de Godwin à Rouen, Mantes, Évreux, Lisieux, Caen, Bayeux, Saint-Lô et Coutances, se terminant à Dieppe. Comme on pourrait s’y attendre de la part de l’un des plus éminents architectes néo-gothiques britanniques, au cours de ce voyage de loisir et de travail, Godwin se concentra sur des exemples importants d’architecture médiévale. Néanmoins, quelques observations plus pratiques émaillent son texte, comme des remarques sur la propreté des hôtels de province et la qualité des aliments et des boissons. Cependant, comparé aux récits autobiographiques des écrivains de voyages d’aujourd’hui, le récit de Godwin apparaît clairement dénué de détails personnels. En se focalisant sur des thèmes architecturaux, le voyage de Godwin ressemblait dans une large mesure au voyage en Normandie effectué par John Ruskin (1819-1900) en 1848. Ruskin parcourut la Normandie peu après son mariage avec Euphemia Gray, visitant Boulogne, Abbeville, Rouen, Falaise, Avranches, le Mont-Saint-Michel, Bayeux, Caen et Honfleur, avant d’arriver à Paris. Ses dessins de cathédrales normandes sont devenus certaines des illustrations les plus importantes de son livre, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, publié en 1849, un volume auquel Godwin fit référence lors de son propre voyage à travers la France. Afin d’évaluer le récit de voyage de Godwin, j’utiliserai le concept d’« intertextualité » formulé au xxe siècle par la théoricienne littéraire Julia Kristeva (née en 1941). Comme l’a postulé Kristeva, les textes individuels peuvent être compris comme participant à une matrice de relations avec les textes antérieurs. Dans le cas de Godwin, ses articles participaient à un champ discursif formé non seulement par The Seven Lamps of Architecture de Ruskin, mais aussi par les récits d’architecture normande publiés par l’éminent médiéviste français Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) et l’architecte restaurateur, Aymar Pierre Verdier (1819-80), en plus des dessins des collègues britanniques de Godwin tel que Eden Nesfield (1835-88) et William Burges (1827-81), tous mentionnés par Godwin. Le concept d’intertextualité de Kristeva aidera à clarifier dans quelle mesure le récit de voyage de Godwin peut être compris principalement comme une contribution à ce réseau de commentaires. Enfin, la lecture du récit de voyage de Godwin dans le cadre de ce tissu textuel et graphique peut également servir à identifier l’émergence de ses intérêts individuels. Suivant les traces de Ruskin – littéralement et textuellement – Godwin commença à articuler au cours de ses « Notes » les principes d’un « éclectisme judicieux » qui finiraient par le différencier de Ruskin et constitueraient la base de sa carrière ultérieure.

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Texte intégral

The author wishes to thank Aileen Reid, Alice Jardine and Katharine Cockin for their help.

Introduction

1In 1873, architect E. W. Godwin embarked on a month-long trip through France’s Normandy region, accompanied by his partner, the actress Ellen Terry, and their daughter, Edy (Soros 368; Craig 42). A year later, Godwin published a series of articles on this excursion in a Victorian architectural periodical, The Building News and Engineering Record, entitled ‘Some Notes of a Month in Normandy’. As would be expected of one of England’s prominent Gothic Revival architects, Godwin concentrated on the important examples of medieval architecture he encountered in what was a combined holiday and sketching tour.

2This paper explores the extent to which Godwin’s trip was une répétition différente of the journey to Normandy taken by John Ruskin in 1848. As Tim Hilton has recounted, Ruskin travelled throughout Normandy soon after his marriage to Euphemia Gray in April of 1848 (Hilton 117; 122‒27). The drawings of cathedrals and churches in Normandy that Ruskin prepared during this trip became some of the most important illustrations to The Seven Lamps of Architecture, published in 1849, a volume Godwin referenced during his own trip through France.

3Ruskin’s volume, however, was not the only book Godwin alluded to; several architectural publications shaped his itinerary. In addition to The Seven Lamps of Architecture, these included William Eden Nesfield’s Specimens of Medieval Architecture, published in 1862; Architecture civile et domestique au Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance, published by the French restoration architect Aymar Pierre Verdier with F. Cattois in 1864; Arcisse de Caumont’s Statistique monumentale du Calvados; and the French medievalist Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du xie au xvie siècle. So, this was as much a scholarly trip as a holiday. Like Ruskin, Godwin was what Cynthia Gamble called a ‘study-traveller’ (Gamble 66).

  • 1 My translation. The original is as follows: ‘l’écrivain est un sujet « en procès », un carnaval, un (...)

4In order to analyse Godwin’s account of his trip, with its combination of preparatory research, sight-seeing, sketching and study, I will make use of the concept of ‘intertextuality’ formulated in the twentieth century by the literary theorist Julia Kristeva. Through her study of Russian Formalism, Kristeva posited that individual texts may be understood as participating in a matrix of relationships with previous texts. In Godwin’s case, his articles entered into in a discursive field formed primarily by Ruskin’s The Seven Lamps of Architecture and secondarily by the accounts of Nesfield, Viollet-le-Duc, de Caumont and Verdier and Cattois. Kristeva’s concept of intertextuality helps to clarify how Godwin’s travel narrative can be understood as a contribution to this network of commentary. In her essay, ‘Word, Dialogue, and Novel’, originally published in 1969, Kristeva stated that intertextuality is ‘a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another’ (Kristeva 1980, 66). This insight will be useful in understanding how Godwin made use of previous accounts of Gothic architecture in Normandy in order to prepare his own travel narrative, with his repeated citing of antecedent sources. Important to Kristeva, furthermore, is the idea of process; in her 1998 book, L’Avenir d’une révolte, she stated that ‘the writer is a subject in process, a carnival, a polyphony without possible reconciliation, a permanent revolt’ (Kristeva 1998, 92).1 The phrase ‘in process’ has several implications; Kristeva later clarified how ‘this French expression’ means both ‘a subject in process’ and ‘a subject on trial’ (Kristeva 2004). Both idioms highlight the possibility of change or motility in the authorial subject. Kristeva’s appreciation of the writer as undergoing a process derives from her attention to the myriad of forces at work in the act of writing (Roudiez 7).

5While it would be incorrect to position Godwin—a practicing architect—as a literary writer of the sort Kristeva discusses (such as James Joyce, Stéphane Mallarmé and Georges Bataille), her emphasis on process is relevant to clarifying how Godwin’s account delineates changes in his interests as he transitioned from being a Goth to a leader of the aesthetes (Beerbohm 49). For my argument is that while Godwin embarks on his tour of Normandy under the sign of Ruskin, his travel narrative identifies the emergence of his individual interests. Following in Ruskin’s footsteps—literally and textually—Godwin began to articulate in the course of his ‘Notes’ the aesthetic preferences that would eventually differentiate him from Ruskin and inform his later career.

The Ruskins in Normandy

6John Ruskin and Euphemia Chalmers Gray were married on 10 April 1848. After what Tim Hilton describes as a ‘dismal holiday’ in Salisbury, John and Effie, accompanied by John Hobbs, the Ruskin family servant, embarked in early August of 1848 on a tour of Normandy (Hilton 124). Ruskin’s father, John James Ruskin, escorted the couple from the Ruskin family home in Denmark Hill to Folkestone, even crossing the channel with them to Boulogne, after which he returned to England (Links 12‒14). The newlyweds then made their way from Boulogne to Abbeville, Dieppe, Rouen, Falaise, Vire, Avranches, Mont St Michel, Coutances, St Lô, Bayeux, Caen, to Rouen again, and finally on to Paris by way of Beauvais. Only staying a few days in Paris, they returned to England via Calais by the end of October (Links 81‒8).

7In planning this three-month tour of Normandy, Ruskin was anxious to see and draw medieval buildings which he felt were in danger of being unsympathetically restored—a process he viewed as tantamount to destruction (Links 6; Hilton 124). Ruskin defined ‘the true meaning of the word restoration’ to be ‘the most total destruction which a building can suffer’ (Ruskin 1979, 184). Once in Normandy, Ruskin spent each day assiduously measuring, drawing, and notetaking. Effie, meanwhile, was largely left on her own by her husband during what was her first trip abroad; according to Hilton, most of her time was spent idly: ‘She sat on a camp stool while he drew, measured, and took notes of buildings’ (Hilton 125). As John James Ruskin wrote about his son, ‘he is in his element among cathedrals and tumble-down houses’ (Quoted in Links 14).

8Eventually, Ruskin filled eight notebooks and hundreds of sheets of drawing paper which became the basis for The Seven Lamps of Architecture (Hilton 127). Ruskin’s intention in the book was to identify ‘some constant, general, and irrefragable laws of right’ in architecture (Ruskin 1979, 11). He called these principles ‘lamps’ since they illuminate the characteristics of good architecture (Tyack 102). There are seven such sources of light: sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory and obedience. For Ruskin, ‘these practical laws’ instantiate ‘the mighty laws which govern the moral world’ (Ruskin 1979, 12). Unfolding in a discursive fashion, Ruskin’s observations fuse aesthetic impressions with moral observations and make extensive use of the language of Evangelical Anglicanism he was raised in (Landow 244). Although Ruskin would later undergo a religious ‘unconversion’, his work up to around 1848 manifests important strains of his Evangelical background, most notably his citing scripture in support of his arguments (Landow 243; 264).

9Ruskin’s Protestant upbringing, however, did not prevent him from responding to the Catholic churches and cathedrals of Normandy. In his preface to the third edition of The Seven Lamps of Architecture, he described how his ‘affections’ led him to focus on three regional manifestations of ‘Christian architecture’: the cities in Italy’s Val D’Arno as representing the Italian Romanesque; Venice and Verona as representing the Italian Gothic; ‘and Rouen, with the associated Norman cities, Caen, Bayeux, and Coutances, as representing the entire range of Northern architecture from the Romanesque to Flamboyant’ (Ruskin 1979, 7). Of the volume’s fourteen illustrations, seven depict details from buildings in Normandy, either wholly or in part.

10In his preface, Ruskin clarified that most of these illustrations were drawn in situ while others were ‘enlarged or adapted from Daguerreotypes, taken under my own supervision’ (Ruskin 1979, 6). Photographing buildings was one of the tasks assigned to the family servant, John Hobbs, who was called George to differentiate him from the two Johns already in the Ruskin household (Links 3). The mixture of hand sketching with photographic documentation reveals the thoroughness of purpose with which Ruskin addressed the urgency to record medieval architecture before the threat of restoration. Consequently, many of the illustrations have an unfinished quality since they depict architectural fragments with pieces missing or worn away; such verisimilitude was important to Ruskin; as he stated, ‘I always draw a thing exactly as it is, hating restoration of any kind’ (Ruskin 1979, 139).

11Central to his study was Rouen, the former capital of the Duchy of Normandy, with its three historic medieval religious edifices: the Cathedral, Abbey Church of Saint-Ouen, and Church of St Maclou. This trip was Ruskin’s fifth visit to Rouen, the city about which he wrote, ‘The narrow streets here are quite Paradise to me’ (Quoted in Links 70). The significance of Rouen to Ruskin is apparent from the following passage in his autobiography, Praeterita, in which he stated:

I must here, in advance, tell the general reader that there have been, in sum, three centres of my life’s thought: Rouen, Geneva, and Pisa. All that I did at Venice was bye-work  . . . But Rouen, Geneva, and Pisa have been tutresses of all I know and were mistresses of all I did, from the first moments I entered their gates. (Ruskin 2012, 104)

12As might be expected, Ruskin’s drawings of Rouen are among his best, such as his drawing of the west porch of the cathedral (Fig. 1), which featured what he called ‘the most exquisite piece of pure flamboyant work existing’ (Ruskin 1979, 33). Architectural historian Robin Middleton has described how Ruskin’s ‘skill as a draftsman and his passion in writing are directed to details; to doorheads and windows, to capitals and mouldings. He focused always on discrete fragments. Architecture itself, he thought, resided in surface adornment, in mouldings and sculpture’ (Middleton 374).

Figure 1. Attributed to John Ruskin. The West Porch of Rouen Cathedral (unknown date). WMG Purchase, 1961.

Figure 1. Attributed to John Ruskin. The West Porch of Rouen Cathedral (unknown date). WMG Purchase, 1961.

© William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest.

13This is especially true of Ruskin’s drawing of the Cathedral of St Lô, where Gothic tracery seems to emerge from a field of shadows (Fig. 2). Ruskin underlined the significance of shadows to Gothic architecture in his ‘Lamp of Power’ chapter. The ‘vigorous depth of shadow exhibited especially by pierced traceries’ was a characteristic of northern Gothic architecture that Ruskin admired (Ruskin 1979, 140). Besides St Lô, he described how tracery in the cathedrals of Bayeux and Lisieux exemplified ‘the method of decoration by shadows’ (Ruskin 1979, 92‒3).

Figure 2. John Ruskin. Plate II from The Seven Lamps of Architecture. Part of the Cathedral of St Lô, Normandy.

Figure 2. John Ruskin. Plate II from The Seven Lamps of Architecture. Part of the Cathedral of St Lô, Normandy.

Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

Godwin and Travel as Study

14In no sense did The Seven Lamps of Architecture offer an itinerary for anyone wishing to tour Normandy—or parts of Italy for that matter. Like numerous Britons abroad, the Ruskins consulted John Murray’s Hand-book for Travellers in France since it was a cornucopia of practical information (Links 10). But his own volume was no guidebook. Instead, the cumulative impression the seven chapters make on the reader is of the author’s perceiving and analytic mind at work. From in situ notetaking and measuring, through detailed drawings that he references repeatedly, Ruskin constructs his impressions and lovingly describes specific, physical examples that manifest the principles he wishes to enjoin on contemporary practitioners.

15It is arguably Ruskin’s method as a study-traveller that most impressed Godwin and became the model for his own month-long sojourn in Normandy. Besides the narrative account in his four-part series of articles in The Building New and Engineering Journal, Godwin published eight separate articles with sketches and measured drawings of the buildings he encountered. Like Ruskin, Godwin drew in order to see more clearly; his own travel narrative integrated textual and graphic components. Godwin’s grandson, Edward Craig, described how the architect made ‘the most detailed sketches of buildings and hundreds of notes about craftsmanship, all in fine silverpoint’ (Craig 42). Publishing his sketches in architectural periodicals offered Godwin a chance to earn a little extra income; The Building News paid him three guineas each for the eight sketches from his trip (Godwin 1874d, np).

16Numerous British architects besides Godwin found Normandy an attractive destination for their holidays abroad, as Gavin Stamp has documented. It was the region of France that had the closest historical and cultural ties to Great Britain, following the Norman Conquest of the 11th century (Stamp 197). In 1857, for example, architect Sir Gilbert Scott advised students, ‘When you go abroad, begin with France’ since ‘It is the great centre of Medieval art. Perhaps the best course is to take Normandy first, as most allied to our own country’ (Quoted in Stamp 194). High Victorian architects heeded this advice and many churches in Great Britain reveal the influence of medieval architecture from Normandy, especially in their distinctive towers and steeples (Stamp 196).

17By 1873, however, Godwin’s role in ecclesiastical commissions was waning (Reid 138‒9), so he was not travelling in search of prototypes for church building. In light of the fact that Godwin travelled with the actress Ellen Terry and their daughter—who would grow up to be a prominent figure in British theatre—it is somewhat maddening to the contemporary reader that Godwin offers no personal details related to his family in his travel narrative. Terry, by contrast, included a brief yet affectionate recollection in her memoirs. ‘[W]e went to Normandy, and saw Lisieux, Mantes, Bayeux. Long afterwards, when I was feeling hard as sandpaper on the stage, I had only to recall some of the divine music I had heard in those great churches abroad to become soft, melted, able to act’ (Terry 82).

18By contrast with Terry’s buoyant memory, Godwin’s few comments on non-architectural topics—such as the hotels they stayed in and the food and drink encountered—tend to the saturnine. This, for example, is how he opens his account:

Dieppe, Rouen, Mantes, Evreux, Lisieux, Caen, Bayeux, St Lô, and Coutances are towns I have lately visited, and it may be questioned whether there is any other equally extensive tract of country in the same latitude where the habits of the people are more uniformly dirty, where the land is more consistently neglected, and where the travellers are so incontinently surcharged. Sometimes you have the rare fortune to enter an hotel that has undergone . . . . refurbishing—in such cases, and in such cases only, can you rely with certainty on the absolute cleanliness of your apartments. But as a rule, dirt and decay dominate over everything. (Godwin 1874c, 251)

19In this inauspicious opening, Godwin activates well-worn anti-French tropes, seen through the lens of his personal preoccupation with cleanliness and hygiene (Hayes 285‒6). Godwin was not the only British traveller fixated on dirt and discomfort, however. Murray’s Hand-Book had also faulted ‘the want of cleanliness’ as the greatest drawback to France’s inns; the volume denounced how ‘the provisions for personal ablution are very defective’ and complained that ‘the washing for floors, whether of timber or tile, seems unknown’ (Murray xxix).

20Once Godwin aired his hygienic grievances, dissipating his sourness, he settles into his main subject, the buildings he came to measure, sketch, and take notes about, as Ruskin had done. He quickly acknowledges the churches of Rouen, noting that ‘The great church of St Ouen and the Cathedral are too well known by photograph and otherwise for them to be fit subjects for my notes’ (Godwin 1874c, 251). Shifting his attention from ecclesiastical to domestic building, his observing eye and sketching pencil focus on the city’s narrow streets lined with timber houses. ‘Of its multitude of old narrow ways, there is scarcely one that has not a good morning’s lesson for the young student’ Godwin writes (Godwin 1874c, 251), an observation showing that, like Ruskin, a didactic imperative motivated his remarks. As Gill Chitty noted, Ruskin sought to educate his reader’s eye by including etchings in The Seven Lamps of Architecture and referencing them repeatedly in his text (Chitty 35). Godwin’s intention was similar, except that as a practitioner writing for a trade journal, he addressed fellow practitioners and apprentices. His emphasis on domestic buildings had practical as well as empirical ramifications. ‘Of timber house Rouen is still well supplied’, he avers, singling out one ‘at the corner of the Rue Malpalu and the Rue Tuvache’ that Viollet-le-Duc had illustrated, even giving the volume number and page reference from the French architect’s Dictionnaire raisonné (Fig. 3), apparently assuming that his readers were in the habit, like him, of consulting Viollet-le-Duc (Godwin 1874c, 251).

Figure 3. Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Illustration of a timber house in Rouen. Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du xie au xvie siècle, 1854-1868. Vol. 6.

Figure 3. Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Illustration of a timber house in Rouen. Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du xie au xvie siècle, 1854-1868. Vol. 6.

Courtesy Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

21After describing a series of intricate shop fronts, Godwin underscores the quality of ‘charm’ these medieval domestic structures hold for him. The word privileges aesthetic delight:

Besides the restored Renaissance house already mentioned, there exists a rather tottering, but very beautifully-proportioned and delicately-treated front of the same style at No. 146, Rue de la Grosse Horloge—a street, by the way, that has no very extensive or superior specimens to show us, but one that somehow overflows with an indefinable charm—a place where we rest as we walk, although it may be after many hours’ exertion. (Godwin 1874c, 251)

22Travelling next to Mantes, Godwin repeats the word ‘charm’ multiple times in his description of the cathedral, adding ‘charming’, ‘piquant’ and ‘affective’ to his lexicon as his appreciative gaze moves from ‘the almost Greek delicacy’ of the portal to the ‘loveliness of tone’ of the tile roof. It is a thoroughly aestheticized description; even the structural supports are artistically pleasing:

We should note well the grand simplicity of the composition, and what I may call the sensitiveness of the articulation—the life in shaft and arch and rib, whilst in so many old churches, and in all new ones, the arches and vaulting appear to press more or less heavily on the walls and piers, the groining at Mantes seems to grow and spring out of its supports. Words and drawings are equally incapable of expressing the peculiar grace and perfection of this work as a structural composition. (Godwin 1874c, 252)

23Once again, Godwin references a drawing by Viollet-le-Duc, giving the specific volume and page in the Dictionnaire raisonné where the cathedral is depicted, but in this instance, he critiques rather severely the French author for his failure to convey ‘the brilliancy and grace’ of the building as experienced in person (Godwin 1874c, 252). ‘Almost inexcusable’ is his reprimand of the illustration in the Dictionnaire, since ‘the fourteenth-century architect does not receive the credit due to him’. The difference between observed reality and published illustration occasions another didactic moment, as Godwin advises young architects ‘to rely on their own eyesight and measurements’ instead of leaning too heavily on ‘authors of popular works’ (Godwin 1874c, 252).

Lisieux: ‘a mine of architectural wealth’

24In many ways, Lisieux served as a touchstone for Godwin similar to the way in which Rouen inspired Ruskin. ‘Lisieux’, Godwin wrote, ‘is a mine of architectural wealth, and to the young man who can rough it, a fortnight or even a month devoted to the quondam Cathedral and the many interesting and beautiful examples of street architecture, would be time well spent’ (Godwin 1874c, 307).

25Godwin pauses at the cathedral, which he describes as ‘especially interesting to Englishmen, possessing many points of similarity with our own Canterbury’ (Godwin 1874c, 308). He praises Ruskin’s drawing of the cathedral, stating,

However brief our visit may be, we must linger for a moment before the doorway of the southwestern tower. We shall see nothing like it for mastery of cusp-form in simple strong work for many a day. In The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Mr. Ruskin has given a very powerful drawing of the arch and spandrel of wall-space between the arch, buttress and stringcourse, and I cannot do better than refer many readers to his work. (Godwin 1874c, 308)

26Godwin balances his appreciation of the cathedral with an intensely aesthetic response to architectural details observed in the town’s timber houses. A single, well-proportioned dormer ‘at the top of a high roof in a low quarter of the town’ is ‘piquant and effective’ and affects him more powerfully than ‘the grand piles for which the town is so celebrated’ (Godwin 1874c, 251). Godwin later published a drawing of this dormer in The Building News (Fig. 4) and described how he ‘studied it for more than an hour, partly by my unaided eyes and partly by the help of a powerful opera-glass’ (Godwin 1874c, 271). Sharing details of his method of sketching, Godwin concludes his discussion of the dormer by highlighting the Ruskinian words ‘power’ and ‘memory’, here deployed for aesthetic ends: ‘There is still much for me to learn from it, for the power of this little thing lingers in my memory’ (Godwin 1874c, 271).

Figure 4. E. W. Godwin. Lisieux, measured drawing of a dormer window, c. 1873.

Figure 4. E. W. Godwin. Lisieux, measured drawing of a dormer window, c. 1873.

RIBA Collections, Image ref.: RIBA 128624.

27About the principal street, he says

. . . anyone who could walk it in less than two hours need not stay at Lisieux. Setting the cathedral for the present aside, the timber houses of the town are more than enough to occupy the student for a week . . . . The general composition of the roofs, the way they are arranged at the street corners, the variety of timber framing, the vertical slating and shingles, the carving, the glazed earthenware . . .  the arrangement of the brick nogging and the moulded stone bases or plinths, are all the work of a people joying in their work, and imbued with a thoroughly artistic feeling(Godwin 1874c, 307)

Figure 5. Verdier and Cattois. Maison à Lisieux. Architecture civile et domestique au Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance, 1864.

Figure 5. Verdier and Cattois. Maison à Lisieux. Architecture civile et domestique au Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance, 1864.

Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

28To take one example of such joyful domestic architecture, Godwin mentions the house known as ‘L’Auberge du Grand Turc’ as it was published in Verdier and Cattois’s Architecture civile et domestique (Fig. 5). Initially referring to Verdier and Cattois’s engraving as ‘exquisite’, he goes on to chastise the draftsmen—as he had done Viollet-le Duc—for their inaccuracy. They had regularized and ‘improved’ the building, straightening out features that time had rendered crooked and imperfect. Although not mentioning the word ‘restoration’, Godwin aligns himself with Ruskin in appreciating the effects of time on architecture, the subject of the ‘Lamp of Memory’ chapter. In Lisieux, Godwin further stresses the haptic power of experiencing the Auberge in person, with all its imperfections, even mentioning the ‘melancholy sound’ of the swinging signboard. The intricate hand carving and variety of surface textures occasion a synesthetic moment. He concludes on a note which expresses the kernel of Godwin’s aestheticism, his elevation of aesthetic experience as transcendent:

There is a charm about the old we all more or less feel—a charm never, or very, very rarely found in modern, and this charm, we may depend upon it, is not a mere question of age, but one owing altogether to the natural feeling and artistic spirit as opposed to the essentially unartistic mechanical modern spirit. It is the work of the artist-architect . . .  that the surveyor-architect can neither feel nor see, much less emulate. It is the eye and hand doing the work, borrowing now and then imperfect mechanical aids, instead of a box of perfect instruments, with eye and hand only as a sort of motive power. (Godwin 1874c, 308)

29Phenomenologically intense, this passage is the rhetorical climax of Godwin’s travel narrative, and his invocation of the artist-architect has clear autobiographical implications. Furthermore, for a designer who has often been seen as proto-modern, his critique of modernity, with its culture of instrumentality, is bracing. Godwin here reveals how closely he followed Ruskin’s ‘Lamp of Life’ chapter, with his emphasis on ‘the fullness of life’.

30The artistic power of Lisieux’s timber houses seems to effect a change in Godwin’s originally morose mood. From now on, his references to French towns and countryside are much more approbatory. Even the ‘low order’ of Lisieux’s hotel does not dampen his enthusiasm for ‘a nation pre-eminent for its refinement’ (Godwin 1874c, 307). ‘The country round Lisieux should not be missed’, he writes, ‘pleasant walks up and down the river lead us to interesting remains, among which the tiled and turreted gateway of the Château de Beuvillers stands out’ (Godwin 1874c, 308). De Caumont had illustrated this gateway in his Statistique, which Godwin had most likely read in the British Library before embarking on his sojourn. According to de Caumont,

Il ne reste plus de l’ancien manoir féodal de Beuvillers, qui s’élevait au fond de la vallée, qu’une poterne flanquée de deux tourelles, d’un effet très-pittoresque. Cette délicieuse tête de pont . . .  est accompagnée d’un pan de mur en brique percé de meurtrières. (de Caumont 178)

31Godwin had designed a much smaller entrance gate with a steep hipped roof holding a pigeon loft in 1871‒73 for the house in Harpenden, Hertfordshire he built for himself and Terry (Soros 368). It was most likely based on de Caumont’s drawing, so part of the attraction of visiting the countryside outside of Lisieux was to see in person the structure depicted in de Caumont’s woodcut.2

32Other pleasant destinations Godwin encountered included the ‘pretty village of Creve-Coeur’ and Bayeux, whose ‘hilly streets, narrow lanes, old court-yards, and that indescribable quiet’ combine to create ‘a very pleasant resting place’ (Godwin 1874c, 395). It also possessed ‘a really good hotel’ (Godwin 1874c, 308; 395). Although the churches of Caen were ‘singularly interesting’, he quickly shifts his attention from sacred buildings to ‘the domestic buildings of the town’. No. 94 Rue St Jean he calls ‘a charming timber house’ and salutes Nesfield’s drawing of it (Godwin 1874c, 395). ‘If a student has time and opportunity, it would be well worth his while to make careful drawings of the details of this front, for they are well-preserved and remarkably simple and effective’ (Godwin 1874c, 395). He enumerates numerous instances of staircase turrets that serve to individualize houses; observed in toto, they create ‘one little community’ (Godwin 1874c, 396).

An Architectural Gem

Figure 6. Contemporary photograph of the Manoir d’Ango. Courtesy Dieppe-Normandie Tourisme.

Figure 6. Contemporary photograph of the Manoir d’Ango. Courtesy Dieppe-Normandie Tourisme.

© Olivier Guilmin.

33Upon returning to Dieppe before crossing the channel home, Godwin had one final architectural discovery: the sixteenth-century villa in Varengeville-sur-Mer, known as the Manoir d’Ango (Fig. 6). While Dieppe ‘has very little to interest the architect’, the Manoir D’Ango, located about ten kilometres southwest of the port city, is ‘quite a little storehouse of architecture’ (Godwin 1874a, 228). Godwin’s description is, after his passage on Lisieux, the highlight of his travel narrative:

Nothing can surpass the subdued contrasts and quiet graceful harmonies of the work as it now stands; all the more interesting and artistically valuable for the framed timber barn, which forms its nearest background. But the architectural gem of the Manoir D’Ango is not to be found in the variety of brick and timber pattern, charming as they are. It is in the exquisite detail of the early renaissance loge or loggia, situated just within the entrance gateway and set askew on plan—just as people take pains in the hanging of pictures—in order that the visitor should at the first see the work from one of the best points of view. (Godwin 1874b, 364)

34This is aesthetic criticism: ‘quiet graceful harmonies’, ‘charming’, ‘exquisite’ are the salient descriptors; even the siting of the building is compared to well-hung pictures in a gallery. The villa embodied for Godwin ‘the power of design’ prevailing in the sixteenth century and he made numerous drawings of the manor house (Fig. 7).

Figure 7. E. W. Godwin. Drawing of the loggia at the Manoir d’Ango, as published in The Building News and Engineering Journal 26 (10 April 1874): 392.

Figure 7. E. W. Godwin. Drawing of the loggia at the Manoir d’Ango, as published in The Building News and Engineering Journal 26 (10 April 1874): 392.

Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

35Mingling classical and Gothic elements in an expressive interplay, the Manoir d’Ango exemplified the ‘judicious eclecticism’ that he sought in his own practice as an architect (Godwin 1881, 366). The villa seemed to Godwin to have spoken a living architectural vernacular for its time; whether nineteenth-century England could achieve such a living language in its buildings was the question Godwin posed. Godwin’s enthusiasm for the Manoir d’Ango was matched by that of the American architect H. H. Richardson, an exact contemporary of Godwin’s, who obtained numerous photographs of the villa during travels between Paris and London in the 1860s (Floyd 26‒7) (Fig. 8).

Figure 8. 19th-Century photograph of the Manoir d’Ango.

Figure 8. 19th-Century photograph of the Manoir d’Ango.

Photographs Collected by Henry Hobson Richardson, 1870‒1885 (inclusive). Richardson, H. H. (Henry Hobson), 1838‒1886, collector. Photographs of Architecture in France and England. Volume: HHR104_2, Frances Loeb Library, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

36Indeed, the loggia of the Manoir d’Ango inspired several of Godwin’s own later designs, such as the theatre he planned for a site on London’s Strand just east of the Savoy Theatre (Fig. 9). Although never built, the theatre would have had an open loggia at the first floor and a turreted tower, both based on the French château. The Manoir D’Ango also influenced his façade for the Fine Art Society in New Bond Street, which was built in 1881 and stands today (Reid 171). I would also like to suggest that the striking adjacencies of large and small window openings and the overall asymmetrical composition at the Manoir d’Ango served as an important precedent for Godwin’s house and studio for the artist James McNeill Whistler in Chelsea, designed four years after his visit.

Figure 9. E. W. Godwin, Façade of the Comedy Theatre, Strand, London, ca. 1881.

Figure 9. E. W. Godwin, Façade of the Comedy Theatre, Strand, London, ca. 1881.

RIBA Collections, Image ref.: RIBA 12576.

An Aesthetic Direction

37One of the important themes of Godwin’s account of his trip to Normandy was the focus on works of domestic architecture. The timber houses of Rouen, Lisieux and Caen, and the Manoir D’Ango in Varengeville all had a particular resonance for Godwin. They are examples of secular rather than sacred architecture. Godwin in fact affectionally referred to many of them as ‘simple, homely work’ (Godwin 1874a, 228). This is what most distinguished Godwin from Ruskin in his response to Normandy’s medieval and early Renaissance buildings. If inspired by Ruskin’s 1848 trip to Normandy, and the volume that resulted from that trip, The Seven Lamps of Architecture, Godwin clarified his own artistic interests in a way that both continued Ruskin’s legacy and opened his own space for practice. The volumes he referenced—Nesfield’s Specimens, Viollet-le Duc’s Dictionnaire and Verdier and Cattois’s Architecture civile—were works of secular culture, unmarked by the religious and ethical imperatives essential to Ruskin and his predecessor as theorist of the Gothic Revival in Britain, A. W. N. Pugin.

38Robin Middleton succinctly summarized the different mentalités that prevailed in the architectural cultures of Britain and continental Europe during the nineteenth century when he wrote: ‘On the Continent, ethics and social morality were not permitted to dominate architectural theory. No one of any great influence took up architecture as a religious crusade, no one veered from architecture to political theory’ (Middleton 378). In particular, Viollet-le-Duc’s Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française embodied a continuity with the intellectual project of the Enlightenment. Its very title referenced Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Bergdoll 12). Like his predecessors in the Âge des lumières, Viollet-le-Duc sought to delineate a universal system of knowledge—architectural knowledge in his case—in an all-encompassing compendium that privileged reason (Bergdoll 12).

39The volumes published by Viollet-le-Duc, de Caumont, and Verdier and Cattois thus offered Godwin a critical distance from the intermingling of architecture and morality that was intrinsic to Pugin and Ruskin. Nevertheless, as Godwin’s ‘Notes’ indicate, he felt compelled to criticise the abstract and idealizing quality of the illustrations in the French compendia. Visiting the actual buildings, he found their illustrations to be inaccurate or artistically reductive—they violated the Ruskinian principle of ‘truth’. Godwin aligned himself with Ruskin’s penchant for on-site sketching and appreciation of what Gill Chitty called ‘the texture and weathering of surface and finish’ when historical buildings were visited in person (Chitty 34). For both Godwin and Ruskin, tactile particularities trumped abstract perfection. This is particularly true of Godwin’s admiration for the Early Renaissance Manoir d’Ango, where time’s passage and nature’s encroachment intensified the original design’s aesthetic potentiality. Godwin wrote,

The effect of time upon the flint, granite, and brick has, in a colour point of view, done wonders for what, perhaps, when new was a trifle harsh, or, at least, sudden in contrast Thus, in the wall of the pigeon-house we see now a very large amount of dark-grey lichen where once a clearly defined black, and almost a glittering white, must have produced a dazzling chessboard effect. (Godwin 1874b, 364)

40The sentences encapsulate how Godwin took Ruskin’s ruminations on time from the ‘Lamp of Memory’ chapter in The Seven Lamps of Architecture and reshaped them to accord with his thoroughly aesthetic inclinations.

Conclusion

41Kristeva’s discussion of the intertext and her conception of the writer as a subject in process are relevant to locating Godwin by tracing the lines of affiliation that connect and separate him from antecedent architectural writers. Clearly, Godwin is no exemplar of the ‘carnivalesque’ mode of writing that Kristeva privileges (Kristeva 1980, 78‒80). Similarly, it would be inaccurate to claim that this month-long sojourn was the single trigger for Godwin’s shift from the Gothic Revival to Aestheticism. But he was clearly a subject in process, willing to modify his artistic predilections in response to new stimuli. His preference for a ‘judicious eclecticism’ as a designer was matched by the syncretism with which he read and made use of Ruskin and the French architectural writers he referenced. It is through such affiliations and disjunctions that we can follow how Godwin—in his travel account—was finding his own way.

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Bibliographie

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Bergdoll, Barry. ‘Introduction’. Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. The Foundations of Architecture. Selections from the Dictionnaire raisonné. Trans. Kenneth D. Whitehead. New York: George Braziller, 1990. 1‒30.

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De Caumont, Arcisse. Statistique Monumentale du Calvados. Vol. 3. Arrondissement de Lisieux. Paris, 1867.

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Reid, Aileen. ‘The Architectural Career of E. W. Godwin’. E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer. Ed. Susan Weber Soros. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999. 126‒83.

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Notes

1 My translation. The original is as follows: ‘l’écrivain est un sujet « en procès », un carnaval, une polyphonie, sans réconciliation possible, une révolte permanente’.

2 In 1973, the gatehouse was moved to the Château of Crèvecoeur. See https://chateaudecrevecoeur.com/fr/

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Attributed to John Ruskin. The West Porch of Rouen Cathedral (unknown date). WMG Purchase, 1961.
Crédits © William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Figure 2. John Ruskin. Plate II from The Seven Lamps of Architecture. Part of the Cathedral of St Lô, Normandy.
Crédits Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 411k
Titre Figure 3. Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Illustration of a timber house in Rouen. Dictionnaire raisonné de l’architecture française du xie au xvie siècle, 1854-1868. Vol. 6.
Crédits Courtesy Avery Classics, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 657k
Titre Figure 4. E. W. Godwin. Lisieux, measured drawing of a dormer window, c. 1873.
Crédits RIBA Collections, Image ref.: RIBA 128624.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 373k
Titre Figure 5. Verdier and Cattois. Maison à Lisieux. Architecture civile et domestique au Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance, 1864.
Crédits Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 458k
Titre Figure 6. Contemporary photograph of the Manoir d’Ango. Courtesy Dieppe-Normandie Tourisme.
Crédits © Olivier Guilmin.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 242k
Titre Figure 7. E. W. Godwin. Drawing of the loggia at the Manoir d’Ango, as published in The Building News and Engineering Journal 26 (10 April 1874): 392.
Crédits Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 463k
Titre Figure 8. 19th-Century photograph of the Manoir d’Ango.
Crédits Photographs Collected by Henry Hobson Richardson, 1870‒1885 (inclusive). Richardson, H. H. (Henry Hobson), 1838‒1886, collector. Photographs of Architecture in France and England. Volume: HHR104_2, Frances Loeb Library, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Figure 9. E. W. Godwin, Façade of the Comedy Theatre, Strand, London, ca. 1881.
Crédits RIBA Collections, Image ref.: RIBA 12576.
URL http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/docannexe/image/14280/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 435k
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Richard W. Hayes, « E. W. Godwin’s Month in Normandy: Travel Writing as Intertext »Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 99 Printemps | 2024, mis en ligne le 01 mars 2024, consulté le 12 juin 2024. URL : http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/cve/14280

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Auteur

Richard W. Hayes

Richard W. Hayes is an architectural historian educated at Columbia and Yale universities. His scholarship has focused on the Aesthetic Movement in nineteenth-century Britain. He contributed a chapter to E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer (Yale University Press, 1999), edited by Susan Weber Soros, a volume that received numerous awards and was selected as ‘one of the most notable books of the year’ by the New York Times. Since then, Hayes has published six additional articles on Godwin in peer-reviewed books and journals, including the 2017 issue of Architectural History, the annual review of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB). Hayes’s scholarly interests also include architectural education and in 2007 he published The Yale Building Project (Yale University Press, 2007), a comprehensive history of an influential academic programme. Additional research has been published in Agency: Working with Uncertain Architectures (Routledge, 2010), Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America (MIT Press, 2012), and Penser-Faire: Quand les architectes se mêlent de construction (Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2021). Hayes has received grants and awards from the American Institute of Architects, the American Architectural Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New York State Council on the Arts, the European Architectural History Network, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. A Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge in 2009 and 2013, he is now a life member of Clare Hall.

Richard W. Hayes est historien de l’architecture, diplômé de l’Université de Columbia et de l’Université de Yale. Il a écrit de nombreux articles et consacré plusieurs chapitres d’ouvrages au Mouvement Esthétique, notamment dans l’ouvrage dirigé par Susan Weber Soros, E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer (Yale University Press, 1999), qui a reçu de nombreux prix et a été désigné par le New York Times Book Review comme « un des livres les plus remarquables de l’année ». Depuis, Hayes a publié six autres articles sur Godwin dans des revues et ouvrages à comité de lecture, notamment le numéro de 2017 de Architectural History. Hayes a reçu plusieurs bourses de l’American Institute of Architects, de l’American Architectural Foundation, de la Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, du Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, de l’European Architectural History Network, du New York State Council on the Arts, de MacDowell Colony, et de Yaddo. Il a été chercheur invité à l’Université de Cambridge de 2009 à 2013. Il est maintenant membre à vie de Clare Hall.

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