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Architectural Antiquities of Normandy   By: (1782-1842)

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First Page:

ARCHITECTURAL

ANTIQUITIES

OF

NORMANDY,

BY JOHN SELL COTMAN;

ACCOMPANIED BY HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE NOTICES BY DAWSON TURNER, ESQ. F.R. AND A.S.

VOLUME THE FIRST.

[Illustration: Coat of arms of the Duchy of Normandy. Emblems of the towns of Rouen and Caen.]

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR JOHN AND ARTHUR ARCH, CORNHILL; AND J. S. COTMAN, YARMOUTH.

MDCCCXXII.

[Illustration]

PREFACE.

An artist, engaged in the illustration of the Architectural Antiquities of England, could scarcely do otherwise than often cast a wistful look towards the opposite shores of Normandy; and such would particularly be the case, if, like Mr. Cotman, to a strong attachment to his profession and the subject, he should chance to add a residence in Norfolk. This portion of the kingdom of the East Angles, in its language and in its customs, but especially in the remains of its ancient ecclesiastical architecture, abounds in vestiges of its Teutonic colonists. The richly ornamented door ways of its village churches have, in particular, long been the theme of admiration among antiquaries. Bred up in the midst of these, and warmly partaking in the admiration of them, Mr. Cotman devoted his pencil and his graver to the diffusion of their fame. Common report, aided by the suffrages of the learned, and in some degree by locality, designated them as Saxon: at the same time, when they were compared with what is left in Britain, of workmanship avowedly Norman, the points of dissimilarity appeared trifling or altogether vanished. Was it then to be inferred that, between Norman and Saxon architecture, there was really no difference; and, carrying the inference one step farther, that the hordes of barbarians denominated by these different appellations, although they might not have embarked at the same port, were only cognate tribes of one common origin, if not in reality the same? The solution of the first of these questions, the only one immediately in view, seemed best to be sought in that province of France, where the Norman power had been most permanently established, and where it was therefore reasonably to be expected, that genuine productions of Norman art might, if any where, be found. With this view, Mr. Cotman crossed the channel; and the result of three successive journies, in the years 1817, 1818, and 1820, is here submitted to the public.

Those who find pleasure in inquiries of this description, will join in the regret, that an undertaking like the present was so long delayed. Incalculable had been the advantages, had it but commenced previously to the period of the French revolution. That fearful storm burst with tremendous violence upon the castles of barons, the palaces of kings, and the temples of religion. Many of the most sumptuous edifices, which had mocked the hand of time, and had been respected amidst the ravages of foreign or domestic warfare, were then swept from the face of the earth. Others, degraded, deserted, neglected, and dilapidated, are at this moment hastening fast to their decay. Yet no small portion of what is valuable has been happily left. The two royal abbeys of Caen, though shorn of much of their former grandeur, are still nearly entire. Château Gaillard, the pride of Richard's lion heart, and the noble castles of Arques and of Falaise, retain sufficient of their ancient magnificence, to testify what they must have been in the days of their splendor: the towns and châteaus, which were the cradles of the Harcourts, Vernons, Tancarvilles, Gurneys, Bruces, Bohuns, Grenvilles, St. Johns, and many others of the most illustrious English families, are still in existence; and, of more modern date, when the British Edwards and Henrys resumed the Norman sceptre, numerous buildings of the highest beauty are every where to be met with... Continue reading book >>




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