The following comes from the Quarterly Review’s of four works on architecture, including the . Encyclopedia Britannica on the subject as well as issues of The Builder. and The Building Chronicle.

We look to photography, which has already achieved wonders, and which, from improvements in the process, is every day achieving greater, for many most essential services to architecture. Its delineations of buildings are incomparable, and must cause the ablest draftsman to despair of emulating them. No amount of skill and diligence could possibly attain to such perfect simili tude. This fidelity, quite apart from the beauty of the produc tions, is of inestimable value. Excellent as drawings may be for their pictorial merits, there is always more or less doubt of their truthfulness. The better the artist, the more is he apt to indulge in the furberia dell' arte — putting in captivating effects which are not to be seen in the original. Deception to a practised eye is frequently written upon the pretended portrait, as when, in order to enhance the majesty of a building, the staffage or figures are made so much too small that the edifice appears considerably larger than it is. Falsehood is falsehood, however stated or expressed, and what good end is answered by this par ticular species of it we are unable to perceive, while it has the obvious disadvantage of causing disappointment when the orginal comes to be seen in its actual dimensions.

But though photography will, no doubt, supersede to a large extent extent the labours of the architectural draftsman, there is one thing which must ever be beyond its powers of achievement. Not only is it incapable of getting at plans and sections, but also of producing geometrical elevations. Architects must them selves supply the requisite complement of graphic illustration, which, we are sorry to perceive, they are backward in doing. Those of the present day do not, like many of their prede cessors, publish the designs of their principal works, and which, being engraved from their own papers, would be accre dited documents. The building itself cannot be visited by many, or must be hastily and therefore imperfectly studied. The engraving brings the cathedral, the palace, the gallery, within our own doors, and is a source of constantly recurring pleasure. Neither must it be overlooked that, although a solid construc tion may be expected to last, under ordinary influences, for an indefinite length of time, its duration may be cut short either through the accident of fire, or by deliberate demolition. [346-47]


“The Present State of Architecture.” Quarterly Review. 101 (1854): 338-63.

Last modified 28 November 2019