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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 11, no. 252: January 11, 1873

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AND BUILDERS' GUIDE Vol. XI. NEW YOKK, SATURDAY, JANUAEY 11, 1873. No. 252. Published Weeklu bu THE REAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOCIATION. TERMS. One year, in advance......................$6 00 AU communications should be addressed to C. "W-. SWHIHÎT. •7 AND 9 AVARHBN STREET. No receipt for money due the REAL E.>7r.\TE RECORD will be acknowledged unless .signed by one of our regular collectors. Hknry D, SiliTil or TrfOMAS F, Cirjl.MiXGS. AH bills for collection «-ill besent from the office on a rega- larly nrinted form. The Index of tlie Conveyances of Real Estate for New York City Avill be ready next Saturday, January 18. The messages of G-overnor Dix and Mayor Havemeyer are, on the Avhole, timely and well written documents, and contain much that is of vital interest to property-holder.s. It is évident that there will be an active canvass at Albany over the new city charter, and that the dominant party Avill split upon the question of patronage, The dispute will be whether a charter shall be given the city without référ¬ ence to party, and solely in the interest of good government, or whether the republican party will hâve ail the city patronage. We judge the latter view will prevail, and that the party in power in the Fédéral government will also con¬ trol the city in ail its departments. This is not exactly what enthusiastic reformers hâve had in Adew, but it will at least give us a re¬ sponsible government. We wUl know who to blâme in the event of gross misgovemment. We judge that the views of Mayor Have¬ meyer as to the necessity of throwing ail power, législative and executive, into the hands of the M lyor and Common Council, wiU not prevail, but that we will be governed by boards and independent executive olficers as hereto- fore. We fear there is but a slight prospect of any diminution of taxation ; indeed ail the in¬ dications are that the rate will increase. . We are enabled to announce that the Cen¬ tral Underground road is revived. It is under- stood that an English banking-house furnishes the money, the Seligmans, who had a lien on the charter, selling it back tô Matthew Byrne. It would be odd, after ail, if the Central Under¬ ground should be built before the famous Van- derbilt route. There will be plenty of schemes this winter, and we judge more than one com¬ mencement wiU be made to supply New York with rapid transit. The Gilbert scheme looks very promising, but will hâve to go through some vexatious litigation before it can com¬ mence work. AECHITECT AND CRAFTSMAN. A VERY lively sensation has recently been created in the Avorld of art by an article in the English Quarterly Beview, wherein the writer, in criticising modem architecture with some véhémence and much ingenuity, advances some new and startltng doctrines. His leading idea is that no one can possibly be an architect who is not at the same time a craftsman ; i.e., ca¬ pable of carrying out the deAdces of his imagin¬ ation by the labor of his own hands, To many this may, at first sight, appear plausible enough ; but expérience does not sustain this notion ; and it is not therefore strange that the gauntlet thus defiantly thrown down by this writer has been taken up by many anxious to enter the lists with him. If architecture and building were one and the same thing,—if an elaborately contrived édifice, every square inch of which is inge- niously arranged to meet some desired end, could be improvised and put together as bées construct their hives or beavers their won- drously intricate dweEings, there might be something in the argument of this writer, and the most sumptuous édifice might in conception and exécution be the Avork of craftsmen. But it is impossible to entertain such an idea re- specttng any great work of architectirre, wheth¬ er of ancient or modem times. Without some one controUing intellect to invent the whole, and to see to the harmonious blending of the varions parts, it is inconceivable that any other resuit could take place than the confusion which overtook the builders of the toAver of Babel—each craftsman talking in a language incompréhensible to his fellows. Look at the old cathedrals of the mediseval âges, with their marvellous intricacy of design and ornamenta- tion. Could they hâve been piled together without some one directing mind ? Who Avere William op Wyiceham, Abbot Seabroke, and the others who hâve immortaiized them¬ selves by the stupendous works they hâve handed down for our instruction ? Were they architects, designing those noble cathedrals and seeing each part faithfuUy carried out to the m.inutest particular, or were they merely crafts¬ men like the- rest, toiling with their own hands at one portion of the structure, whUe each other craftsman worked out his individual in¬ spiration upon some other portion ? That, in those halcyon days of art, when each workman threw his whole soûl into his Avork as a matter of love and faith, considérable latitude was given each man to work out his individual fan- cies, is doubtless true ; but to think that aU this beautiful workmanship was then left to fall into its allotted space by individual Avhims, and that such harmonious magnificence could hâve resulted from any thing else than one coa- trolling direction, is simply preposterou^. But while it is absurd to expect that ail com¬ pétent craftsmen—carpenters, masons, brick- layers, etc.,—are capable of assuming the parts of architects, painters, and sculptors—^being artists and workmen at the same time—there is nothing whatever to prevent architects from being craftsmen, and craftsmen architects. But the caUings are totaLy distinct; and perfect akiU. in one does not necessitate perfect skill in the other. That a knowledge of practical workmanship—the use of the tools—^in one or two of the leading branches of building, would be of essential use to architects, nobody, how¬ ever, Avill deny ; and in this respect the éduca¬ tion of most of our architects is unquestionably. faulty. Any skilful craftsman who has taste and imagination enough to qualify him for the higher aBsthetic studios of architecture, Avill find himself working to great advantage over those who hâve not undergone the same amount of practical tuition. Having been a craftsman himself, he knows more minutely precisely what knoAvledge craftsmen require to hâve im- parted to them ; and therefore, as a gênerai rule, the détail drawings of such men are far more easy to be followed by workmen. To this extent practical knowledge of workman¬ ship is of the same use to an architect that a sea-captain finds in haAring in his youth handled the ropes ; but to assume, as many seem to do, that this knowledge of handicraft enables a man to cope Avith the higher and more intel- lectual reach of architectural design, is jusfc as absurd as to imagine that a seaman who can handle ropes skilfully is necessarUy a skilful navigator. There are few professions so little under- stood as that of an architect, and none but those who hâve sttidied it can comprehend how complicated it is in aU its ramifications'. To compare such an art with sculpture or painting is perfectly idle. It is true that both the sculpter and patnter are—so to speak—crafts¬ men as weU as artists, That is to say, they exécute with their own hands what their imaginations hâve conceived. But to expect an architect to be at the same time a craftsman —i.e., to require him to be capable of doing vsdth his oAvn hands what his brain has con¬ ceived,—is to expect something superhuman. A sculpter is confined to the model, and a painter to the canvas, in their studios ; but an architect's conceptions, to be carried to fruition, may run over the whoie range of human industries in constructive art ; and how could he—though ten Michael Angeles roUed into one—be expected to master personaUy ail the handicrafts necessary in carrying out his invention? The writer in Oie Quarterîy Beview has evidently overshot the mark, but the discussion to which he has given rise is cal- çulated to be productive of good. There is no