Rabu, 12 Februari 2014

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

European influence on Tudor palaces cannot be measured easily, almost five hundred years of architectural history has made the evidence hard to examine in detail and much evidence has been paved over or laid to waste. In order to examine the subject in any depth the research of scholars must be examined and their interpretations of the remaining structures and artifacts assessed.
How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

King Henry VIII himself would have had an overwhelming influence over building works of the time. He was learned, the first King of England to write, publish and print a book and he read compulsively (Steane, J. 1998, p. 207). He desired power, and perhaps wished to be more powerful than the King of France (Gosman, M. 2005, p. 138). This ambition coupled with his academic knowledge may have been used to build palaces designed to surpass their European counterparts.

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

Two different examples will be used to examine European influence on Tudor palaces: Hampton Court Palace and Nonsuch Palace. The impact of European influence will be evaluated alongside the proposition that the growth and power of the Henry VIII and his court was a greater shaping force on their architecture. European influences will be considered in relation to the following themes: external appearance including building materials, internal layout and the aesthetic interior. For these themes each palace will be considered in turn. Before launching into the themes, it is useful to give a brief history.

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

The period of the Reformation saw Henry VIII break from Rome and form his own church (Gosman, M. et al 2005). This period can be viewed as both disastrous and bountiful for architecture in England. It saw widespread destruction of ancient abbeys and priories that had stood for five centuries (Summerson, J. 1993), but it also saw Royal building work to an extent that had never been known before. By the end of his reign Henry VIII owned over fifty houses (Summerson, J. 1993). These architectural works were built on the basis of a break from Rome, and as such, it could be said that this was a factor against European influence.

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

Hampton Court Palace is an accretive building that began in 1514 as the largest house in England (Watkin, D. 1997); it was owned by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (c.1471-1530) and given to Henry VIII in 1529. Half of the Tudor palace is still visible next to the newer part of the palace built by Christopher Wren (1632-1723) from 1689-1694 (Tinniswood, A. 2001). Nonsuch Palace was begun in 1538; it was built from scratch as an elaborate "hunting lodge" and was not completed by the time of the King's death in 1547 (British Archaeology, 2009). Unfortunately, whilst in the hands of Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine in 1682, the house was demolished and its parts and land sold (London Borough of Sutton, 2009). It is necessary to examine the remaining artefacts, including pictures and descriptions to form an accurate picture of Nonsuch Palace. There is some debate over when Henry VIII's improvements started and Cardinal Wolseys finished, (Thurley, S. 1988 and Curnow, P. 1984). When Henry VIII took over the palace from Wolsey it had not been designed as a traditional Royal residence.

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

Hampton Court's external appearance heralded a new era for Royal residences; it is constructed of distinctive red brick. The tradition of brick usage in Europe probably came from Rome (Edson Armi, C. 2004), but the use of red-fired brick was a Burgundian concept. The Burgundian Court used brick even when there was an abundant supply of stone, as can be seen from the Palais de Savoy in Michelen, Belgium, built from 1507-1527 (Markschies, A. 2003). Brick, and its different bonds - including Flemish for laying walls and other structures - had a huge impact on buildings from the early sixteenth century and Hampton Court Palace is a prime example of this. In 1532 special brick kilns were built near Hampton Court Palace to supply the enormous number of bricks needed (Thurley, S. 1988).

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

One of the surviving images of Nonsuch is a print by George Hoefnagle (1545-1600). From this image we can see the huge octagonal turrets that stand guard on the outside of the building, these may have been an emulation of the Chateau de Chambord or they may merely have been an expansion on normal Tudor theme - a mass flanked by octagons, as seen at Richmond Palace (Summerson, J. 1993). Of more impact in this image is what we cannot see: the village of Cuddington that was swept away; the stone from the monasteries with which it was built. All of these were symbolic of Henry VIII's ambition and ruthlessness (British Archaeology, 2009).

How Significant Were European Influences on the Development of Tudor Palaces?

At this point Henry VIII's love of chivalry and tradition should be mentioned. Inspired to build Nonsuch by the birth of his long awaited son (London Borough of Sutton, 2009), the palace was intended as a triumphal celebration of his power and grandeur. It could be argued that Nonsuch was inspired by Henry VIII's love of chivalry, tradition and English antiquity. Henry VIII would have kept close contact with scholars of his age, including John Leland (1502-1552), who received a Royal Scholarship in 1526. Leland journeyed widely and gathered much information (Williams, C. 1996), some pertaining to the "legend" of Camelot. In which case, perhaps Camelot and not Chambord would have been Henry's inspiration.

When talking about external appearances and Tudor palaces, it is important to note that looks can be deceptive. Henry VIII liked to keep up appearances and we can see this from the Field of the Cloth of Gold, when Henry VIII met with Francis I of France. He erected a magnificent palace. Built on brick foundations, the palace walls and roof were made of canvas, painted to create the illusion of solid materials. The timber framework for this was imported from the Netherlands and was floated to Calais (Lloyd, C. & Thurley, S. 1990). The overwhelming presence of timber products in the Netherlands at this time made it the obvious source for this structure (Te Brake, W. Klooster, W. (eds). 2006)).

The internal layout of Hampton Court was very different from the Royal castles that had gone before because it had no Keep. Earlier castles had been designed with fortification in mind. Another difference was that the hall was not the only imposing interior (figure 1). Henry VIII added to the state apartments and designed them for an increasingly leisured and luxurious way of living (Summerson, J. 1993). He also added a long gallery and whether this was influenced by the French King Francis I's Grande Galerie at the Chateau of Fontainebleau is not clear - building work began at Fontainebleau in 1528 (Markschies, A. 2003). The addition of the gallery may merely be an English tradition brought from Herstmonceux Castle (Coope, R. 1986).

Up until Henry VIII's reign, the English monarchy had been lagging behind the French in terms of power and influence. Henry VIII probably tried to equal the French King in every thing he did, especially building structures that demonstrated his grandeur and power (Gosman, M. 2005).
Henry VIII paid great attention to the building of a library and here we see a strong Flemish influence. Almost all of Henry VIII's houses had libraries. The King's librarian at the time was Giles Dawes, a Fleming by birth, who had been Henry VIII's childhood tutor (Thurley, S. 1988). It can safely be assumed that Dawes enthused Henry VIII with his passion for reading and therefore, libraries.

The monarch's attitude towards courtly life had also changed. The building of tennis courts, bowling alley, leisure gardens and jousting yard were a signal for a more leisured way of life, although the tennis court may have been Wolseys work c. 1529 (Thurley, S. 1988). This leisured way of life is almost certainly influenced by the Burgundian Court where jousting and other recreational activities are documented long before Henry VIII set about his extensions (Cannon-Willard, C.1967). In the 1930's the Privy Garden was compartmented, this was a system that dominated sixteenth century gardens across Europe and was hesitantly adopted in England (Jacques, D. 1999). In terms of layout, Nonsuch Palace is easier to understand because it was built from scratch, (figure 2). (Steane, J. 1998) says that a "fully-fledged ordered planning of a Royal palace is reached with Nonsuch." This may be because Henry VIII built it in the last nine years of his reign, with a great deal of architectural experience behind him.

Nonsuch was built around two courts. The basic plan of the palace is straightforward and mostly symmetrical - although the functions of the individual rooms are much more debatable given that the palace was demolished over 300 years ago. With the "king's side" on the west and the "queen's side" on the east, they were connected through a privy gallery in the southern wing. The ground floor was taken up with rooms housing the queen's servants and, on the "king's side" a grand staircase led from the guard chamber to a waiting room adjoining the presence chamber (Steane, J. 1998).

Steane also describes Nonsuch as a fusion of Renaissance styles derived from France and Italy. It is commonly accepted that Nonsuch Palace was Henry VIII's attempt to emulate, and even "out do" Francis I's hunting lodge at Chambord, which had been in progress for twelve years when Nonsuch began (Summerson, J. 1993). Chambord would have been a magnificent building for the sixteenth century and Henry VIII probably wanted to make Nonsuch even more imposing - hence it's name.
Both Hampton Court and Nonsuch Palace had lavishly decorated interiors; we know this from surviving artefacts and records. In terms of architecture, the decorations used in Nonsuch and Hampton Court Palace, had a distinctly European influence. For the decorative finishing there is no doubt that Henry VIII used foreigners (Summerson, J. 1993). According to Evelyn, Nonsuch was filled with plaster statues and bass relievos (Summerson, J. 1993). The timbers were covered with slates, which were arranged in different patterns. This use of slate was unusual and probably directly influenced by Francis I use of slate at Fontainebleau (Platt, C. 1995).

(Watkin, D. 1997) explains that the elaborate stucco decoration at Nonsuch was inspired by the palaces of Francis I at Chambord and Fontainebleau, where the Italian mannerists, Rosso and Primaticcio, had been at work since about 1530. Stucco is one of the materials used by plasterers and the term is used to describe the decorative plasterwork executed in stucco (Gapper, C. 1999). Timber was used to build the inner court at Nonsuch, in order to hold the long sequence of stucco panels that were to be its fame (Biddle, M. 1984).

The Nonsuch stuccoes appear to have been carried out by an English artificer, (?William) Kendall, and then by a foreigner called Giles Geringe (Biddle, M. 1984). Biddle proposes that Nicholas Bellin of Moderna, who had previously worked at Fontainebleau, drew cartoons for the stuccoes. He describes them as being in the mannerist style of Fontainebleau and proposes that Bellin was able to keep up to date by receiving descriptions and illustrations from his friends at Fontainebleau.
This would be entirely in keeping with the fashion, where ideas and designs came across the channel in pattern books, and English craftsmen would re-create the work of their European counterparts using the books. Although there is little evidence of pattern books from the building of Nonsuch and Hampton Court Palace, there are surviving pattern books from the medieval period. Together with the knowledge that Bellin received descriptions and illustrations from across the channel to aid his craft, it could be proposed that pattern books existed in some form at this time. Students of Tudor architecture have the paintings of Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601) to thank for the lasting images of Nonsuch and its intricate stuccoes.

A visit to Nonsuch by John Evelyn (1620-1706) in 1666 led him to write that the plasterwork must have been the work of "some celebrated Italian"(Summerson, J. 1993) and there is further evidence for this. Henry VIII must have employed European craftsman because French writing has been found on the underside of decorations, indicating where to position them (Museum of London, 2009). Tapestries were an integral part of both palaces, bringing decoration and warmth to the large spaces devoted to monarchy and court. (Steane, J. 1998) described tapestried walls in the presence chamber at Nonsuch and there is a much-documented evidence about the tapestries at Hampton Court Palace. Henry VIII is believed to have owned over 2500 tapestries in total.

An inventory of his belongings in 1547 included a set of Acts of the Apostles tapestries, dated before 1528 and undoubtedly made in Brussels (perhaps in Pieter van Aelst's workshop). Only a small fraction of Henry VIII's tapestry collection survive and it is difficult to know which pieces were at Nonsuch and Hampton Court. However, we know that these tapestries would probably have originated from the Flemish regions of Europe (Campbell, T. 1996).

This essay does not give enough scope to discuss all the decorative architectural features of the chosen palaces, but the painting and frescoes at Hampton Court Palace should be noted. According to Thurley, the ceilings of the privy gallery were decorated with the standard Tudor "all over" decoration of divided sections with gold batons (Thurley, S. 1988). He says that Henry Blankston and the painter Maynard, both English men, were responsible for this type of interior decoration. However, when it comes to Henry's study, which must have been of great importance to him, he seems to have designed the room himself. Hung with paintings by the Italian painter Toto del Nuziata (1498-1554), it is probable that he also painted the fresco around the upper parts of the wall (Thurley, S. 1988). Toto del Nuziata held the office of sergeant painter for the last ten years of his life.
It can be seen that, from their outward appearance through to their planning and interior design, Europe quite significantly influenced the style and construction of each of these two palaces. Henry VIII was a powerful Tudor ruler, he was extremely proactive and prolific in his building works, and was well read and well educated. The period in which these two palaces were built was extraordinary, the Reformation forced the closure and destruction of the monasteries and abbeys and freed up much land for the Crown and nobility. All these things would have influenced the building of Tudor palaces and it is difficult to say which is most important. However, we know that Henry VIII's ambition was instrumental. In Hampton Court he desired to have the biggest lodgings in England and in Nonsuch his ambition was to "out do" all of Europe. This combination of European influence and Henrican desire was the driving factor in the building of these two palaces.

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