The entrance-portico in the architecture of Great Britain, 1630-1850
This thesis attempts to account for the appearance, persistence, and eventual decline of an architectural motif, derived from ancient pagan temples, widely used as the principal feature on an increasing variety of building types in Britain, during the period 1630 to 1850. The thesis seeks to do this by defining both the word 'portico' and the architectural forms to which, historically, it was applied, and by examining the religious, political, social, and stylistic contexts in which the portico, as a metaphor for the temple, was utilized. The rationalization within the Vitruvian-Christian tradition of the ancient temple's pagan connotations; the portico's intrinsic capacity to symbolize virtue, distinction, and authority; the changing perceptions of the idea of the temple; and the different nature and sources of both the authority and the architectural style which the portico expressed, are investigated. Architecturally, the portico expressed grandeur, centrality, and an entry; it controlled, defined, and gave focus to urban space. Introduced to Britain by Inigo Jones, and based on classical Roman and Palladian models but with Salomonic overtones, the portico initially symbolized Stuart dynastic claims to divine kingship. As political and economic power shifted to an aristocratic oligarchy, the temple that was Britain, Rome's heir, symbolized a church and state united, and the secular virtues of the Augustan age. Palladio's fusion of Roman temple and villa provided the model for the oligarchy's power base, the porticoed country house. Archaeology and politics combined, first to project mercantile opulence through imperial Roman-inspired neo-classicism, then the more fundamental qualities of the Greek temple. The Pantheon gave way to the Parthenon; the temple of private wealth to the imagined temple of democracy. After epitomizing the characteristic early nineteenth-century public style, the too-pagan Greek portico succumbed - as did the classical ideal - in the anarchy of styles, to the Gothic.