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Victorian Mannerist c. 1840—c. 1890

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  07 St. Scholastica’s College  02 Former Rocks Police Station  017 Pitt Street Mall
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  019 Sydney Trades Hall    
 
Classical styles of the second half of the nineteenth century gained much of their inspiration from the architecture of the High Renaissance in Italy and France, so it is not surprising that some Victorian architects looked a little beyond those major influences towards the Mannerist style of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Italy. Mannerist architects delighted in taking liberties with the rules established by the High Renaissance. Giulio Romano was the Mannerist architect par excellence; Michelangelo was the towering genius who gave the style a tragic dimension. Later, in eighteenth- century Britain, Nicholas Hawksmoor’s architecture contained an element of strangeness which placed it in the Mannerist tradition. Deriving its name from maniera, which simply means ‘style’, Mannerism was often a matter of stylish virtuosity for its own sake, with a dash of deliberate illogicality. Its numerous monuments provided plenty of source material for nineteenth-century architects who wanted to adorn their buildings with elaborate and distinctive façades. An example is C. R. Cockerell’s Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, where columns and entablatures stand proud of the wall supporting nothing but statues.
In Australia, the Victorian Mannerist style takes its place between Victorian Academic Classical and Victorian Free Classical, combining the scholarly rigour of the former with the permissiveness of the latter. Mannerist architects used a wide range of motifs to draw attention to their buildings. Parts of a façade were given an assertive texture by the use of rusticated masonry (imitated in stucco on buildings of lesser rank), and sometimes even the shafts of columns were rusticated. The size of arch voussoirs—especially keystones—was often exaggerated. A single façade may exhibit some pediments that are triangular, some that are segmental, and others that are ‘broken’ or ‘open’. But to appreciate a Mannerist building, one needs to look not only at the ‘kit of parts’ from which it is composed but also at the way in which the parts are put together. The overall composition usually displays a sense of cleverness and a desire to be unusual, even perverse. For example, in Melbourne’s Block Arcade many disparate elements are crowded together to generate a surging, undulating rhythm which gives the façade a surprising unity. Cooma Courthouse, on the other hand, presents what promises to be a consistently handled Free Classical façade which is then deliberately disrupted by a wildly over-scaled Palladian motif thrust into the centre of the composition.

Entrance building, Bathurst Gaol, Browning Street, Bathurst, NSW. James BarneS, Colonial Architect, i886. A very severe and forbiddingly scaled portal.
   
  Quoted from:
"A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Austrlian Architecture; Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present"
RICHARD APPERLY, ROBERT IRVING, PETER REYNOLDS. PHOTOGRAPHS BY SOLOMON MITCHELL.
Angus & Robertson Sydney 1995 ISBN 0207 18562 X
Copyright © 1989 by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds.
 
  Former Mutual Store. Flinders Street, Melbourne. Completed 1891
 
  Stalbridge Chambers. Little Collins Street, Melbourne. Completed 1891.
 
  Benvenuta. Carlton, Victoria. Completed 1893.
 
  Former Prahran Arcade. Prahran, Victoria. Completed 1889. Grand interiors and exteriors even without its Second Empire styled mansard roof.
 
  Lygon Buildings. Lygon Stret, Carlton, Victoria. Completed 1888.

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