Old Domestic Architecture of Holland

Old Domestic Architecture of Holland

Old Domestic Architecture of Holland

Old Domestic Architecture of Holland

Excerpt

It cannot be denied that in the last decade an increased interest has been shown in the architecture and the applied arts of the past centuries in Holland, a country which still possesses great fascination in spite of the harm which has been done to many of its buildings by the disturbance of their beautiful façades. This increased interest has not only been caused by the better appreciation of the value of architecture in our daily life as the only art which affects everyone closely, but also because the methods of studying the development of the arts in general in different countries have become more scientific, and the influence of one country on another is not ignored by an exaggerated Chauvinism. The more we know the less we consider the art of a country as an isolated phenomenon. Instead of cherishing a false pride at having accomplished work alone, we feel like members of a large family, each of whom, although often in a very different way, is trying to add beauty to the earth.

The reciprocal influences of the Dutch and English architecture have not yet been thoroughly studied, but even without special knowledge of the subject it is quite clear that these influences have been very strong. This is quite natural, for not only are the characters of the two peoples very similar, but the climatological and geographical conditions bear much resemblance one to the other. That this is of the utmost importance Taine has demonstrated in his admirable "Philosophie de l'Art" and in his "Notes sur l'Angleterre." In such a time of political confluence as the reign of William and Mary, the two lines of architectural development ran nearly parallel. On the other hand, when, as in recent years, the domestic architecture of England was an example for the whole of Europe, it was in Holland that it was more deeply understood, the latter country deriving great benefit from the beauty borrowed from overseas.

For these reasons the Englishman in travelling through Holland will not feel quite a stranger, there being so much to remind him of his native country, but probably he will feel a difference, not entirely caused by the atmosphere and the different colouring. He will be struck by the realization of some subtle charm peculiar to the Dutch character, expressed in the beautiful work carried out in stone, in brick, in wood, or even in iron, which has been left to us by past-masters of their art.

The Dutch character is most directly shown in the simplest structures, and not in the so-called monumental architecture, and the illustrations in this book show the beauty of a simple brick wall, a well-proportioned window or door, or the natural grouping of masses without too much "architecting." In the paradox that the beauty of a piece of music is mostly expressed in the pauses, lies a truth which makes it possible to say that the beauty of architecture is felt chiefly where the attention is not made to concentrate on the architecture itself. Let us take some old farmhouse in the country. There has been no architect to attempt to make a work of art based on the eternal rules which cannot be neglected, but, nevertheless, we find that a work of art has been . . .

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