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Relations and Reflections to the Eye and Understanding: Architectural Models and the Rebuilding of the Royal Exchange, 1839–44

  • M. J. Wells
Abstract

Historians have overlooked the ways in which architects perceived and used models during the nineteenth century. Drawing on a wide range of documentary sources, as well as drawings, prints and a surviving model, this essay examines how architectural models were deployed in the competition for the Royal Exchange and its design and construction (1839–44). Many figures saw models as important arbiters in choosing designs and, after the initial competition process, C.R. Cockerell and William Tite demonstrated the use of models as poetic and rhetoric tools in architectural practice. Drawing especially on the example of Tite's model of the Royal Exchange portico, which survives at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the essay discusses how architectural models played an important role in the social activities surrounding the profession including ceremonial events, conversazioni and international exhibitions.

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NOTES

1 Martin Briggs, ‘Architectural Models – I’, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, 54, 313 (1929), pp. 174–75, 178–81 and 183; Martin Briggs, ‘Architectural Models – II’, The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, 54, 314 (1929), pp. 245–47 and 250–52; Wilton-Ely, John, The Architect's Vision (Nottingham, 1965), catalogue of an exhibition held at the Nottingham University Art Gallery in 1965; Wilton-Ely, John, ‘The Architectural Model’, Architectural Review, 142 (July 1967) pp. 2632 ; and Wilton-Ely, John, ‘The Architectural Models of Sir John Soane: A Catalogue’, Architectural History, 12 (1969) pp. 538 and 81–101.

2 Wilton-Ely, ‘The Architectural Model’, p. 32.

3 Ibid., p. 32.

4 Ibid., p. 32.

5 Physick, John and Darby, Michael, Marble Halls: Drawings and Models for Victorian Secular Buildings (London, 1973).

6 Ibid., p. 13.

7 Richardson, Margaret, ‘Model Architecture: Sir John Soane's Collection of Architectural Models’, Country Life, 183, 38 (21 September 1989), pp. 224–27; Knox, TimEcclesiastical models’, RIBA Journal, 99, 8 (August 1992), pp. 3033 ; Knox, Tim, ‘Cockerell's Model for Langton: a House for the Dorsetshire Nimrod’, The Georgian Group Journal, 3 (1993), pp. 6267 ; Williams, Matthew, ‘Lady Bute's Bedroom, Castell Coch: A Rediscovered Architectural Model’, Architectural History, 46 (2003), pp. 269–76.

8 Leslie, Fiona, ‘Inside Outside: Changing Attitudes Towards Architectural Models in the Museums at South Kensington’, Architectural History, 47 (2004), pp. 159200 ; Bottoms, Edward, ‘The Royal Architectural Museum in the Light of New Documentary Evidence’, Journal of the History of Collections, 1 (2007), pp. 115–39; Flour, Isabella, ‘On the Formation of a National Museum of Architecture: the Architectural Museum Versus the South Kensington Museum’, Architectural History, 51 (2008), pp. 211–38.

9 London, Mercers’ Collection [hereafter ‘MC’], Joint or Grand Gresham Committee minute book [hereafter ‘GC’], minute of meeting held on 18 January 1838.

10 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 4 January 1839.

11 White, J.G., History of the Three Royal Exchanges (London, 1896).

12 Katharine Ada Esdaile, ‘Battles Royal: No.1. The Royal Exchange’, Architect and Building News (9 January 1931), pp. 47–49; Hitchcock, Henry-Russell, Early Victorian Architecture in Britain, 2 vols (London and New Haven, 1954), 1, pp. 305–06; Bassin, Joan, Architectural Competitions in Nineteenth-Century England (Ann Arbour, 1984), pp. 4247 .

13 Watkin, David, The Life and Work of C.R. Cockerell (London, 1974), pp. 207–10.

14 London, Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library [hereafter ‘BAL’], vol/77, `Reminiscences of my twenty-six years association with the late Professor C.R. Cockerell Esq. with a supplement of the late F. P. Cockerell Esq. to 1878’ [hereafter ‘Reminiscences’], f. 42.

15 Port, M.H., ‘Destruction, Competition and Rebuilding: The Royal Exchange, 1838–1884’, in The Royal Exchange, ed. Saunders, Ann (Leeds, 1997), pp. 286–93.

16 The ground plan of the site issued for the competition offers the clearest depiction of this: MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 26 March 1839, Instructions to Architects, p. 4.

17 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 26 March 1839.

18 London, London Metropolitan Archives [hereafter ‘LMA’], CLA/062/04/019, Royal Exchange: Extracts and Reports, ‘Proceedings Connected with the Rebuilding of the Royal Exchange, 1838–1844’ [hereafter ‘Proceedings’], 26 March 1839.

19 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 26 March 1839.

20 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 24 April 1839, letter from T.L. Donaldson to the Joint Gresham Committee; ‘Paper read by W. Tite, esq., President of the Architectural Society, at the Last Soiree of the Season, 1839’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 2 (July 1839), pp. 242–43.

21 Royal Exchange’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 2 (May 1839), pp. 173–74.

22 Extract from a Report of the Committee appointed to consider the subject of Public Competitions for Architectural Designs. Laid before the Special General Meeting, held 24th January 1939’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 2 (May 1839), p. 183.

23 Hopper, Thomas, A Letter to Lord Viscount Melbourne on the Rebuilding of the Royal Exchange (London, 1839), p. 5.

24 Reviews: A Letter to Lord Viscount Melbourne on the Rebuilding of the Royal Exchange. By Thomas Hopper, Architect’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 2 (April 1839), p. 143 .

25 Ibid., p. 143.

26 MC, GC, minutes of meetings held on 27 August 1839 and 6 September 1839.

27 LMA, CLC/521/MS04952, bound volume of papers by Joseph Gwilt relating to the Royal Exchange’ [hereafter ‘Gwilt Papers’], ‘The Royal Exchange – Report of the Architects’, 2 October 1839, f. 2v.

28 For a rough plan of the exhibition and Gwilt's initial comments see LMA, CLC/521/MS04952, ‘Gwilt Papers’, 11 September 1839, ff. 11r–12v.

29 LMA, ‘Proceedings’, minute of a meeting held on 5 November 1839.

30 LMA, ’ Proceedings’, minute of a meeting held on 14 November 1839.

31 BAL, CoC/1/31: C.R. Cockerell Royal Academy lecture notes, 20 January 1848, ff. iv–v.

32 LMA, CLA/062/04/019, Royal Exchange: Extracts and Reports, ‘Proceedings’, minute of a meeting held on 5 November 1839.

33 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 3 February 1840.

34 RIBA, BAL, VOL/77, ‘Reminiscences’, f.42.

35 LMA, CLA/062/04/019, Royal Exchange: Extracts and Reports, ‘Proceedings’, minute of a meeting held on 11 February 1840.

36 RIBA, BAL, VOL/77, `Reminiscences’, ff. 42–43.

37 LMA, CLC/521/MS04952, ‘Gwilt Papers’, 28 September 1839, f. 17v.

38 LMA, CLC/521/MS04952, ‘Gwilt Papers’, undated, f. 27r.

39 London, Royal Institute of British Architects, Drawings Collection, SC88/15(13): C.R. Cockerell, preliminary studies for competition design for the Royal Exchange, perspective sketch of interior courtyard looking east.

40 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 28 April 1840. Letter from C.R. Cockerell to the Joint Gresham Committee.

41 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 28 April 1840. Letter from William Tite to the Joint Gresham Committee.

42 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 28 April 1840.

43 BAL. CoC/3/16: ‘Copy of C R Cockerell's report to the Committee of the Gresham Trustees for carrying into execution the rebuilding of the Royal Exchange in London, 4 May 1840’, f. 1v.

44 Malafouris, Lambros, How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement (London, 2013), p. 27.

45 Ingold, Tim, Making: Anthropology, Archaelogy, Art and Architecture, (Abingdon, 2013), p. 21.

46 £400 in 1840 was worth approximately £24,430 in 2010. As a point of comparison, in 2010 a professionally made 4.5m long architectural model, in painted timber and perspex of a site in central London at 1:50 scale, cost approximately £20,000.

47 BAL, VOL/77, ‘Reminiscences’, f. 43.

48 Leeds, W.H., ‘Article III: The New Royal Exchange’, Westminster Review, 35. 1 (January 1841), p. 66 .

49 ‘New Royal Exchange’, Morning Chronicle, 22 May 1840, p. 4.

50 Royal Exchange’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 2 (May 1839), p. 173 .

51 Academy, Royal, Royal Academy Exhibition LXXII (London, 1840), p. 46, no. 910.

52 This occurred in a model of Langton House produced for Cockerell in 1825. See: Knox, ‘Cockerell's Model for Langton’, p. 66.

53 Otter, Chris, The Victorian Eye: A Political History of Light and Vision in Britain, 1800–1910 (Chicago and London, 2008), pp. 4748 .

54 LMA, CLA/062/04/019, Royal Exchange: Extracts and Reports, ‘Proceedings’, minute of meeting held on 22 July 1840.

55 ‘New Royal Exchange’, Morning Chronicle, 6 June 1840, p. 4.

56 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 14 May 1840; 10 June 1840.

57 BAL, VOL/77, ‘Reminiscences’, f. 43.

58 ‘New Royal Exchange’, Morning Chronicle, 22 May 1840, p. 4.

59 Ibid., p. 4.

60 Ibid., p. 4.

61 Ibid., p. 4.

62 RIBA, BAL, vol/77, `Reminiscences’, f. 53, newspaper cutting on far left of sheet: Leader, Globe, 3 June 1840.

63 BAL, vol/77, `Reminiscences’, f. 50.

64 BAL, vol/77, `Reminiscences’, f. 53, newspaper cutting on centre left of sheet: ‘New Royal Exchange’, Globe, 3 June 1840.

65 In particular see: Quatremère de Quincy, ‘On Effect in Architecture’, The Architectural Magazine, 3.26 (April 1836), pp. 144–49.

66 RIBA, BAL, vol/77, `Reminiscences’, f. 53, newspaper cutting on centre left of sheet: ‘New Royal Exchange’, Globe, 3 June 1840.

67 Editorial, The Globe, 6 June 1840, p. 1.

68 ‘Anon. Letter’, The Globe, 6 June 1840, p. 5.

69 ‘A Constant Reader’, The Times, 9 June 1840, p. 3.

70 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 27 July 1840.

71 Leeds, W. H., ‘Article III: The New Royal Exchange’, Westminster Review, 35.1 (January 1841), pp. 5288 (p. 67).

72 Ibid., pp. 62–88.

73 Ibid., p. 77.

74 Ibid., p. 78

75 Ibid., p. 80

76 Ibid., p. 87.

77 Ibid., p. 88.

78 MC, GC, minute of meeting held on 30 September 1840, letter from Tite to the Joint Gresham Committee.

79 Victoria and Albert Museum, Sculpture Department, museum number: 1069–1873.

80 Roscoe, Ingrid, Sullivan, M.G. and Hardy, Emma, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851 (New Haven and London, 2009), p. 349.

81 Royal Academy, Royal Academy Exhibition LXIX (London, 1837), p. 56, no. 1155.

82 ‘Architectural Society’, The Gentleman's Magazine, 1 (February 1834), p. 209.

83 ‘Architectural Exhibitions’, The Architectural Magazine, 1.1 (March 1834), p. 89.

84 Wilton-Ely, ‘The Architectural Models of Sir John Soane’, p. 10.

85 This author is in the process of compiling a bibliographic index of architectural model-makers active between 1830 and 1920.

86 LMA, CLA/062/04/019, Royal Exchange: Extracts and Reports, ‘Proceedings’, 26 March 1839.

87 Ibid., minute of meeting held on 16 October 1840.

88 Ibid., minute of meeting held on 16 October 1840.

89 Ibid., minute of meeting held on 16 October 1840.

90 Ibid., minute of meeting held on 15 January 1841.

91 Ibid., minute of meeting held on 15 January 1841.

92 Architectural Society’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 4 (4 June 1841), p. 237 .

93 ‘Architectural Society’, The Times, 2 June 1841, p. 5.

94 ‘Art. X. Laws and Regulations of the Architectural Society’, Architectural Magazine, 2.19 (November 1835), pp. 513–14.

95 Parissien, S. P., ‘Tite, Sir William (1798–1873)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 ; online edn, May 2013 (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27479, accessed 3 Sept 2016)

96 ‘Architectural Society’, The Gentleman's Magazine, 1 (February 1834), p. 209.

97 Wood, Jane, ‘A Culture of Improvement: Knowledge, Aesthetic Consciousness, and the Conversazione’, Nineteenth Century Studies, 20 (2006), pp. 7998 (pp. 80–81).

98 Alberti, S.J.M.M., ‘Conversaziones and the Experience of Science in Victorian England’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 8.2 (Autumn 2003), p. 223 .

99 Architectural Society’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 4 (May 1841), p. 201 .

100 Architectural Drawings, Royal Academy’, The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 4 (July 1841), pp. 232–33 (p. 232).

101 For a full description of the ceremony see: Wilson, Effingham, Description of the New Royal Exchange (London, 1844), pp. 8092 .

102 ‘New Royal Exchange’, Observer, 17 January 1842, p. 3.

103 The Ceremony of Laying the First Stone of the New Royal Exchange by Prince Albert’, The Ipswich Journal, 22 January 1842, p. 1 .

104 There are various accounts of the occasion. See: LMA, ‘Proceedings’, 28 October 1844; ‘Opening of the New Royal Exchange’, Illustrated London News, 2 November 1844, pp. 276–85. ‘The New Royal Exchange’, Illustrated London News, 9 November 1844, pp. 291–93.

105 ‘Opening of the New Royal Exchange by Her Majesty’, Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 November 1844, p. 2.

106 ‘The New Royal Exchange’, Illustrated London News, 9 November 1844, p. 292.

107 LMA, ‘Proceedings’, p. 67.

108 ‘Day, The Architectural Modeller’, The Builder, 7 October 1848, p. 490.

109 From 1831 to 1847 there were fifty-three architectural models exhibited at the Royal Academy. Then between 1848 and 1894 there were only four models exhibited: two in 1853, one in 1862 and another in 1866.

110 Flour, ‘On the Formation of a National Museum of Architecture’, pp. 229–34.

111 At present this author is working on a history of architectural models and their exhibition in nineteenth-century Britain.

112 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851: Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue, 4 vols (London, 1851) 2, p. 830, no. 161A.

113 Ibid., p. 831, no. 182.

114 International Exhibition of 1862: Official Catalogue of the Fine Art Department (London, 1862), pp. 101–02.

115 Ibid., p. 101, no. 2126.

116 ‘University College’, Illustrated London News, 19 August 1865, p. 158.

117 Leslie, ‘Inside Outside’, pp. 159–200.

118 Department of Science and Art, Twenty-First Report of the Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education (London, 1874), p. 411, no. 1069.1873.

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