Victorian Brick and Terra-cotta Architecture in Full Colour (Dover Architecture) Paperback – 2 Aug 1990
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168pages. in4. Broché. Un vol. couv. imp. , int. frais. Très nombreuses illustrations en coul.
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This book shows how brickwork was done a hundred years ago, when some incredibly skilled craftsmen plied their trade. Houses, townhouses, churches, even engine sheds were treated to elaborately designed and intricately detailed exteriors. Somehow, those ugly rectangular bricks were formed into wonderful arches, framing windows and doors. Walls are anything but flat, with bricks courses forming shadow lines that give the humblest buildings incredible character. Terra-cotta was carefully applied like make-up on an actress, to boldly add accent and interest.
Some of the patterns shown are a bit too intricate, with the contrasting colours becoming garish and distracting, subtracting rather than adding to the building's beauty. Terra-cotta, like make-up, can be over-applied or misapplied, again to ill effect. Still, if you're considering a building with a masonry exterior, and prefer attractive to drab, you really want this book. No, you really *need* this book. A couple caveats though. There aren't a lot of folks left who can do this kind of work, and if you can find someone qualified, they won't be cheap. Also, if you really like the terra-cotta, you may be out of luck. From a thriving industry in the 1800s, it's nearly disappeared today. There are a few manufacturers left in the U.S., but they mainly cater to commercial development. You'll have your work cut out for you if you want terra-cotta on your new residence.
One note, there is very little text to go with the plates. Not a lot should be needed, but when you give a plate of "Styles of Brick Bonds", you really should label each. Not every reader is going to know the terminology. There are plenty of other places where a few words of explanation would come in handy. Over all though, this book occupies a unique niche, and fills it very well!
The title, however, is completely misleading. To call French architecture from the 1880's "Victorian" is bizarre. Although there is a handful of examples from Belgium and Holland, there is nothing from Britain and its Empire (that is, where Victoria reigned), from the US, from eastern or southern Europe, etc.
So do buy the book and enjoy the architectural renderings, but don't expect a general survey of Victorian brickwork!
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