G.E. Street in Rome: a Victorian architect and his churches

Wednesday 12 March 2014 18.00 – 19.30

G.E. Street in Rome: a Victorian architect and his churches

This lecture will examine the two Roman churches of the great English architect of the Victorian period, George Edmund Street (1824-81): St Paul’s Within-the-Walls (1872-6), Via Nazionale; and All Saints’ (1880-7), Via del Babuino.

Then, as now, Street was known for his sensitivity and intelligence as an architect, particularly in the domain of ecclesiastical design, which led to him receiving the two Roman commissions. He also had an unrivalled reputation as being among Victorian Britain’s most knowledgeable architects on Italian medieval design, having travelled to Italy many times throughout his career, even writing a critically acclaimed book on the subject entitled Brick and Marble in the Middles Ages (1855, 2nd ed. 1872).

These two churches will be considered in the context of Street’s oeuvre, as well as within the wider context of Victorian architectural theory and practice, providing a nuanced interpretation of the churches’ sources, context, and meaning. These two churches—now landmarks within the city—are often characterised as being very ‘un-Roman’ and therefore somewhat ‘out of place.’ However, as lecture will attempt to demonstrate, these apparent peculiarities were not out of any ignorance on the part of the architect or his patrons, but instead a very considered response to the context, both political and artistic.

Alex Bremner (Edinburgh / BSR Paul Mellon Centre Rome Fellow)