paintings and drawings by raphaelby w. e. suida

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  • Paintings and Drawings by Raphael by W. E. SuidaReview by: Ruth Wedgwood KennedyThe Art Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Jun., 1943), pp. 166-167Published by: College Art AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 00:12

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    street . .. and next, upon the John and Thomas Lord Houses in Greenwich Street (possibly at Number 34)" (p. 137). It may sound petty to go into the problem in such detail, yet the case of the Lord doorway is quite illuminating because it illustrates the complicated situation in which one finds himself when trying to tie up the drawings and the notations of the Diary. For the question arises whether a house was actually built for Thomas Lord by the firm or whether only a new front door was added to an old house and, in either case, whether this door was designed in the style of the Classical Revival.

    No less than eight documents are or may be related to this door. In the Diary there is this notation for 1829: "Front Door, with tripod pedestals, for Thomas Lord." (Underneath this there was another line which has been very carefully scratched out. Could this have read "Never executed"?) Moreover there are seven drawings in the Davis collection in the Met-

    ropolitan Museum, all designs for doorways in the Classical Revival style, with notations on the reverse that are apt to create utter confusion. Three of the designs show the doorway flanked by tripod pedestals, and one of these has plain pilasters at either side and is lettered, "The first design and drawing ever made for N. York doors." Underneath this in pencil, all but obliterated is, "Door made for Thomas Lord Green- wich St." In the hand of Davis's son is written on the reverse, "Designs made in 1827 & 9 J.B.D." but the "1827" read originally "1829." The second design with tripods is labeled on the back, 1829. The third drawing has tripod pedestals, a very elaborate door, and no pilasters. This is labeled on the reverse by Joseph Beale Davis, "Design for Thomas Lord, Greenwich St., 1829, Transition from old forms" (this is the drawing reproduced in Mr. Newton's book as fig. 3). A fourth drawing of a doorway flanked by pilasters and with no tripods but with iron trellis work up- rights is labeled on the back by Davis Jr. and signed "J.B.D. Diary, p. 2o, This is the first breaking away from the old colonial forms, Ward's on Broadway, 1831." Then comes a doorway quite different but still in the style of the Classical Revival; it shows an en- tablature supported by two Ionic columns and, border- ing the crosspiece, a classic band of ornament in which is set the street number "34." On the reverse this is labeled, "Study of Classic form applied in Doorway of Thomas Lord by Alex. J. Davis --see 'studies' 1829 and diary p. 2o Illustrated. J.B.D." A last draw- ing makes the confusion complete. It has no pilasters and no tripod pedestals, but is very like the doors of early nineteenth-century houses. This is signed on the face, "A.J. Davis del." and labeled, "Door of Thomas Lord, I827."

    It seems quite obvious that only one of these designs could have been actually executed for Thomas Lord. Also if this doorway was built in 1829, the design made in 1831 could not have been the "first breaking away from the old colonial forms," and been done for Mr. Ward on Broadway. It would appear that the labeling of the drawings by Joseph Beale Davis, about a hundred years after the designs were made, was not only inaccurate but at times confused. As the records of New York property are easily accessible, it seems a pity Mr. Newton did not consult them. Had he only

    looked in the Directories he would have learned that Thomas Lord lived not at 34, but at 55 Greenwich Street from before 1825 to 1831. In this year he moved to 521 Broadway, where he remained until 1834. All of which raises the question whether the doorway for Thomas Lord ever existed except in the imagination of A. J. Davis, who was an inveterate maker of all kinds of sketches for all kinds of houses that were never built.

    The question of whether or not Davis designed the first doorway in New York City in the Classical Re- vival style raises another question: who actually set the styles? Mr. Newton is very sure about it; yet John Haviland in his Builder's Assistant, Volume ii, pub- lished in Philadelphia in 1819, when Davis was six- teen, gives a design for a door in the style of the Classi- cal Revival as well as a number of examples of orna- mental details in that style, for pediments and ceiling decorations. It is also to be remembered that Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, the earliest English publication of the Empire style, came out in London in I807. It seems highly unlikely that New York City was twenty-two years behind the style of London and ten years behind the style of Philadelphia.

    A book on Richard Upjohn by his grandson was published by the Columbia Press in 1939. It is a model of terse and accurate scholarship. Both text and pic- tures are clearly arranged and perfectly supplement each other. There is an appended list of the works exe- cuted by the architect, arranged by town and date to- gether with a full bibliography. One can only wish that Mr. Newton had taken this book as his model. As it is, the author has relied too much on his acquaintance with nineteenth-century literary chat to offset his evi- dent unfamiliarity with the pictorial contents of the architectural publications from which Davis drew his inspiration and many of his unusual "Firsts."


    Metropolitan Museum of Art

    W. E. SUIDA, Paintings and Drawings by Raphael (Phaidon Edition), New York, Oxford University Press, 1941. Pp. 33; o9 plates, 24 illustrations in the text. $4.50.

    Inexpensive books on art are such a real need in America that, after the war, those of us who are in- terested in teaching and studying art will have to give the problem serious attention. For some time the Phai- don Editions of the Oxford University Press have been trying to meet this need with a series of volumes, some of which have contained a useful text and have been illustrated with fresh and provocative photo- graphs. But the Phaidon Raphael is so disappointing that it seems worthwhile to treat it as an object lesson and learn from its faults what an inexpensive art book ought to be.

    First of all, Suida's text seems to be written in a vacuum without regard to any particular audience, either academic or popular. It is a biography in terms of the artist's works, a perfectly defensible scheme, but it is neither pointed enough nor broadly enough con- ceived to be recommended to a beginner, nor is it meaty enough to be of value to a more advanced stu-

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    dent. Anyone who knows the material will find the text a reasonably accurate compression of the data about Raphael, but he will find little that is new. It has its good points - such as its emphasis on Raphael's study of Leonardo's drawings, on his own contribution to Correggio, on the originality of the color and light of Raphael's late works; and it has its weaknesses - such as its underemphasis on Raphael's indebtedness to Michelangelo; but one would hope for something less banal from so distinguished a scholar. The text seems equally unsuited to a popular, non-academic audience. Raphael does not emerge from it as a clear enough figure either as an artist or a man. There is almost no hint that he lived in a particularly significant time or that he had a share in forming the character of his time. Furthermore, any book written for a popular audience should be written in a lively and stimulating style, calculated to arouse an interest in unfamiliar ma- terial; yet no such concessions to popular taste have been made. Still more certainly, any book written for an English-speaking audience should be written in idiomatic English. The text is full of phrases which would have sounded well in German but which in English are barely comprehensible or painfully awk- ward; there are many flaws in the use of articles, or prepositions, or participles, and many proper names are incorrectly Anglicized. The notes err even more in English syntax than the text and seem to have been very little revised.

    The jacket of the book states its aim as a visual re- habilitation of Raphael, an aim with which we should heartily sympathize. We may never again feel as Ca- valcaselle did when he opened his great monograph with the words, "Raphael! At the mere whisper of this magic name, our whole being seems spellbound," but we must, nevertheless, recognize when we look with unprejudiced eyes at Rapha