The American Vignola
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The American Vignola

A Guide to the Making of Classical Architecture

William R. Ware

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eBook - ePub

The American Vignola

A Guide to the Making of Classical Architecture

William R. Ware

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About This Book

`Vignola codified the rules of classical architecture for the Italian Renaissance . . . Ware codified Vignola for the American Renaissance.` — John Barrington Bayley, from the Introductory Notes to The American Vignola
From 1890 to 1940, Americans designed and built classical architecture on an extraordinary scale. During this American Renaissance were built countless libraries, museums, universities, courthouses, capitol buildings and other structures, both public and private, rich with domes, pediments, colonnades, and other classical features. `We built with unparalleled grandeur,` architect and scholar John Barrington Bayley observes, `and our architecture led the world.`
More than any other document of the period, The American Vignola laid the groundwork for this grand resurgence in American architecture. Its author, William R. Ware, founded America's first school of architecture at M.I.T. in 1865, and sixteen years later, the School of Architecture at Columbia University. He became America's leading teacher of the art of designing classical architecture. The American Vignola is his textbook on that art.
As the Renaissance architect Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola helped to recover the lost laws of classical architecture that made possible the architectural wonders of the Italian Renaissance, Ware helped lay the groundwork for the wonders of the American Renaissance. The American Vignola contains tables of the Tuscan, Ionic, Doric, Corinthian, and Composite Orders; measured drawings of the great monuments of the ancient, Renaissance, and baroque periods; and guides for drawing and establishing geometrical relations. Especially important are its detailed practical instructions for designing classical arches and vaults, roofs and domes, doors and windows, walls and ceilings, steps and staircases, and more. Over 300 illustrations illuminate the text, including 37 full-page plates and 267 smaller figures. Introductory notes by Mr. Bayley and architectural expert Henry Hope Reed set Mr. Ware's great achievement in perspective.

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The Five Orders


IN January, 1859, I went from Mr. Edward Cabot’s office in Boston, where I had been for two or three years, to join the little company of half a dozen young men who were studying architecture in the Studio Building in Tenth Street, under the inspiration of Mr. Richard Hunt. Mr. Hunt had just returned from Paris and was eager to impart to younger men, though we were not much his juniors, what he had learned in the École des Beaux-Arts and in work upon the New Louvre. We had all, I believe, had more or less of office experience, but those were the days when the Gothic Revival was at its height, and Mr. Hunt found most of us unfamiliar with Classical details and quite unskilled in their use. I, at any rate, knew hardly a touch of them, and I remember well the day when, as I was carefully drawing out a Doric Capital according to the measurements given in my Vignola, Mr. Hunt took the pencil out of my hand and, setting aside the whole apparatus of Modules and Minutes, showed me how to divide the height of my Capital into thirds, and those into thirds, and those again into thirds, thus getting the sixths, ninths, eighteenths, twenty-sevenths, and fifty-fourths of a Diameter which the rules required, without employing any larger divisor than two or three.
It seemed as if this method, so handy with the Doric Capital, might be applied to other things, and I forthwith set myself to studying the details of all the Orders, and to devising for my own use simple rules for drawing them out. The present work presents the results of these endeavors. Experience in the class room has, meanwhile, amplified and extended them, and they have at many points been improved by the suggestions of my colleagues.
I am particularly indebted to Professor Hamlin and to Mr. W. T. Partridge for some ingenious applications of the 45-degree line to the Doric Entablature and to the Corinthian Capital, and for an analogous employment of the 60-degree line.
Finding that the plates in which, for the convenience of my own students, I have embodied these results are somewhat in demand by others, I now publish them in the present volume, adding such text and marginal illustrations as the subject matter seems to require. The Plates have been drawn out for me anew by Mr. Partridge, as have also most of the Illustrations. The rest have been taken from standard publications, especially from Bühlmann’s “Architecture of Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance,” which has furnished twenty-six of the Figures.
The forms and proportions here set forth are, in the main, those worked out by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and first published by him at Rome in the year 1563, as those which, in his judgment, best embodied the best practice of the ancient Romans. Other systems have been presented by Alberti, Palladio, Scamozzi, Serlio, Sir William Chambers, and others. But Vignola’s Orders have generally been accepted as the standard. His works have been frequently republished, and recourse must be had to them for minute information in regard to details. But the dimensions given in this book, and the methods of determining them here described, will suffice for the execution of all drawings and designs which are made to a small scale.
This volume is concerned only with Columns, Pilasters and Entablatures, Pediments, Pedestals, and Balustrades. The employment of these Elements in the Composition of Doors and Windows, Wall Surfaces, external and internal, Staircases, Towers, and Spires, Arches and Arcades, Vaults and Domes, and other architectural features, will, I hope, at a later day be made the subject of a separate treatise which will be the natural sequel to this one.
After the chief part of this volume was in press my attention was directed to a somewhat similar work by the celebrated James Gibbs, the architect of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields and of St. Mary-le-Strand. He published in London, in 1732, a series of plates showing the Orders and their applications with a...

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Citation styles for The American Vignola
APA 6 Citation
Ware, W. (2012). The American Vignola ([edition unavailable]). Dover Publications. Retrieved from (Original work published 2012)
Chicago Citation
Ware, William. (2012) 2012. The American Vignola. [Edition unavailable]. Dover Publications.
Harvard Citation
Ware, W. (2012) The American Vignola. [edition unavailable]. Dover Publications. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Ware, William. The American Vignola. [edition unavailable]. Dover Publications, 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.