Sunday, October 20, 2019

Portraits of Master Builders with Their Compasses, Part I

This past year I have given 8 presentations on Practical Geometry, the last 3 at the International Preservation Trades Workshop (IPTW) in Stirling, Scotland. My workshop begins with a power point introduction about how geometry was used in construction. Then we practice using compasses, straightedges, pencils, and twine (chalk lines, anyone?) to layout and design frames and buildings. 
The portraits here of master builders holding a compass, the symbol of their profession,  are part of those presentations.

Sebastiano Serlio, 1475-1554, master builder and author of    'On Architectura'
 posthumous portrait by Bastolomeo Passerotti c. 1575, 
now in the Martin von Wagner Museum,  University of Wurtzburg.

I wrote an introduction to Serlio here:

 Andrea Palladio,  1508-1580
architect and author of The 4 Books of Architecture, 1570

The engraving and the painting it came from may have been made 100 years after Palladio died.

James Gibbs, born in Scotland, died in England: 1682 - 1754. Architect of St. Martin's in the Field church, 1722. author of the Book of Architecture. 1728. This book of engravings of his buildings is known to have been in the Colonies. It influenced a great many designs.

Portrait in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

William Buckland - 1734-1774
indentured to  George Mason of Gunston Hall, 1755 

Master Builder in Virginia and Maryland

Note his compass on the table below his hand 

I write about him here:

Peter Nicholson  - 1765 -1844  
Author of texts for master builders, architects and engineers, and mathematicians beginning in 1793 , extending through the 1840's. His books were in print many years after he died and went through many editions both in London and in the States. Asher Benjamin and Owen Biddle credit him in their pattern books. Minard Lefever says (here I paraphrase):  "Refer to Nicholson . He's the master!"

For more on Peter Nicholson see:

Much of what I taught this year is not yet on this blog.  It should be, so this is a beginning.

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